• Image about Chicago

If You Go

Buddy Guy’s Legends - 700 S. Wabash Ave.   (312) 427-1190   www.buddyguys.com

Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation   (former Chess Records studios) -   2120 S. Michigan Ave.  (312) 808-1286  www.bluesheaven.com

Market Fisheries - 7127 S. State St.   (773) 483-3233

Optimo Hat Company - 10215 S. Western Ave.   (773) 238-2999    www.optimohats.com

The original sites of the 708 Club (708 E. 47th St.) and Theresa’s (4801 S. Indiana Ave.) are still intact. The Checkerboard’s building is gone.

They’ve Got the Blues

Blues music is as integral a part of Chicago’s history as deep-dish pizza and the long-cursed Cubs. To learn more about the city’s oldest art form, we suggest the following:


› Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta (Penguin, $16) is the most learned, readable and deeply felt book about the blues. With both biography and musicology, Palmer traces the music from its origins in the Mississippi Delta to its postwar heyday in Chicago.

› In The Record Men: The Chess Brothers and the Birth of Rock & Roll (Norton, $14), Rich Cohen tells the story of Chess Records, with special insight into the complex relations between its Jewish owners and their black artists.


› As long as you don’t expect factual accuracy from a fictional medium, Darnell Martin’s film Cadillac Records conveys the flavor of Chess, particularly in the performances of Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters and ‹ Beyoncé knowles as Etta James.


The Chess Blues boxed set, released by the label in 1993, contains four CDs and an invaluable 64-page booklet. Two other compilations are well worth buying for the way each brought a new generation of blues musicians to light.

Chicago: Blues Today (Vanguard) combines into one boxed set three extraordinary 1965 LPs, which showcased Johnny Shines, James Cotton, Otis Rush and others.

› Four of the six albums in the Living Chicago Blues (Alligator) series, first released on vinyl around 1980, are now available on CD. These include breakout performances by Lonnie Brhoks, Jimmy Johnson and Magic Slim.


The Jazz Record Mart is quite possibly the greatest jazz and blues store on the planet. It doesn’t hurt that the owner, Bob Koester, also founded and owns Delmark Records, an excellent label. 27 E. Illinois St., www.jazzmart.com

› For soul food, Army & Lou’s has been a South Side fixture for 65 years. 422 E. 75th St.

Web-exclusive: Our picks for the five most influential albums by Buddy Guy

The Essential Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy’s prolific career as a blues sideman and a leader makes any must-have list highly subjective. We attempt to pick our five favorite albums.

Buddy Guy: Can’t Quit the Blues (Box set)
Silvertone, 2006
This definitive collection, released in 2006, contains three CDs that draw on a half-century of recordings as well as a DVD containing a documentary and 11 live performances.

Hoodoo Man Blues
Delmark, 1965
Hoodoo Man Blues is classic collaboration between Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. For a different side of their partnership, try 1991’s Alone and Acoustic (Alligator).

Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues
Silvertone, 1991
This album revived Guy’s recording career when it was released in 1991. An expanded version was issued in 2005.

Sweet Tea
Silvertone, 2001
Guy’s collaboration with songwriters and producers from the Fat Possum label makes for an album that is both spontaneously raw and innovatively produced.

Skin Deep
Zomba, 2008
Skin Deep has Guy working with his younger admirers, including Eric Clapton, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, as well as blues pedal-steel virtuoso Robert Randolph.