Today's blues scene is more on the up-and-up - an electrifying nightscape that holds its own against any in the world. If you want to hear authentic blues, head straight to a blues club. Blues clubs remain unequaled for blues ambiance. Popular blues clubs are home of some of the best blues artists playing there every night. Blues fans of every conceivable type crowd the clubs to hear stalwart blues acts lay down the real deal. The experience in a blues club like that is authentic and the music is top-notch. Some blues clubs are always jammed and present some of the best blues coming through or the best regional stars. In some clubs you get Acoustic Blues, Soul-blues, Zydeco and roots seven nights a week.
Chicago has been designated as the "Home of the Blues". The city boasts the most authentic blues clubs in the world. Although the blues weren't invented in Chicago, they were certainly shaped there. On the surface most Chicago's blues clubs feel ramshackle and rusty - the barstools are worn out, the plaster is falling off the walls, and the floor seems barely mopped. But if one pans across their smoke-filled, dimly lit rooms, one begins to notice the bouncers with their headsets; the souvenir shops loaded with t-shirts, trinkets, etc.; and the well-heeled out-of-towners who arrive by limousine and tour bus.
Like Hollywood's best film noir, these clubs are in the business of producing middle-class fantasies of urban life, thrilling and dark. But in reality, most of these places feel more like Disneyland with booze. Not all blues clubs are in upscale neighborhoods though. A place like the Checkerboard Lounge has often been described as the classic Chicago blues joint. It's there that Keith Richards jammed with Muddy Waters. But forget the contrived shabbiness of the club; the music is what's important anyway. Chicago blues bands typically perform the same cover songs night after night. and while some musicians get sick of playing those songs, they we have to play them, because they're the songs that people know and they want to hear.
Some tourists in Chicago only want to hear black bands, because they want to see an authentic Chicago blues band, and they think a black band is more real, more authentic. People want German cars, French chefs, and they want their bluesmen black. In reality, though, blues musicians come in all sizes.
They are black and white, Japanese and German. When they are not playing at night, some maintain straight jobs as day laborers, but many others are schoolteachers and computer programmers. The musicians tend to deemphasize the race or the educational background of their fellow musicians, but they think a lot about how they play. Today the Chicago blues audience is mostly white, whereas many black consumers prefer hip-hop and rap, reggae, jazz, and dance music. Blues clubs represent some of the most racially integrated public spaces in the city. Today, the city relies on the blues to attract tourists from all over the world especially due to the annual Chicago Blues Festival. Anyhow, a visit to a Chicago blues club is truly classic.