South Side Blues: Artis’s Lounge
No visit to this city is complete without a night out grooving to authentic Chicago blues. Each of our clubs offers its own unique experience, so you should visit them all. But if you’re looking for an intimate performance in a cozy South Side bar, Artis’s Lounge is the spot to hit. A short walk from the 87th Red Line stop in Avalon Park, Artis’s is open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.
Unlike other blues clubs, there is usually no cover charge. Also distinct to this place is the décor. Patrons sit in red pastel chairs around a large circular bar in the middle of the club. The walls, which carry a yellow shade, are cut with mirrors and windows — the bar seems a little bigger, and the crowd gets a closer look at the already close performers. The drinks are served in typical South Side fashion: beer “on the rocks” is a popular choice with the locals, running close with gin and juice. The majority of tourists stick to the blues bars downtown, so this is usually crowded with friendly South Siders. In other words, be prepared to be heckled if you wear your Cubs hat here. Or a Yankees jersey. Just sayin’.
Mondays are highly recommended. Hometown favorite Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues usually start the night with a few sets followed by some collaborations with other performers who happen to be in the house. Tre’ and the BlueKnights Blues Band take the stage on Sundays. For you karaoke lovers, Wednesday is your night, but patrons are often encouraged to take the microphone any night and sing along to bands. Thursday showcases “Old-School House and Stepping Music.” A small dance floor lures the soul moves (or in my case, Elaine Benes dance moves) out of you. If you stop in during the day when bands aren’t playing on the stage, feel free to pick a few songs from the jukebox.
The verdict is pretty simple. Artis’s Lounge offers good music, good drinks, and good people.
Location: 1249 East 87th Street