CHICAGO — Chicago is home to the blues and nothing is more synonymous with Chicago Blues than Kingston Mines.
According to co-owner Lisa Pellegrino, Kingston Mines was founded in 1968 by her father, Doc Pellegrino. It is the largest and oldest continuously operating blues club in Chicago.
Its two stages have been graced by the likes of Magic Slim, Koko Taylor, Sugar Blue, Billy Branch, Junior Wells, Mike Wheeler, Joanna Connor and scores of other musical greats.
The way the two stages work to bring music to the crowd is like a perfectly executed ballet. You can expect music non-stop for hours, all you need to do is walk 20 feet to the next room.
“We’re open at 7 p.m. Thursday. And Friday we’re open till 4 am. Saturday we’re open till 5 a.m.,” Pellegrino said. “Friday and Saturday the music starts at 7:30 p.m. with an acoustic set, then the first full-band set starts at 9 p.m. and goes till 10:30 p.m. And then after that the bands switch off playing every hour…. There really is no downtime because one band stops and the other one starts.”
Kingston Mines has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years including the Chicago Reader’s 2016 Best Blues Club, Chicago Music Awards 2016 Most Popular Blues Club Award. It’s the awards and accolades that have fueled this blues machine for over 50 years. (That and the great blues music that is showcased on a weekly basis)
What keeps Kingston Mines alive today?
“It’s the same thing that allowed its birth in the stormy 1960s. Passion,” Pellegrino said.
One of the hidden gems of Kingston Mines is the food.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the food we serve,” Pellegrino said. “Most people don’t know we even have a kitchen, but it’s all Southern fare food. Doc’s Kitchen has plenty of options from catfish and open your ears to some of Chicago’s best live music.
All they ask is to remember their motto: “Hear Blues – Drink Booze – Talk Loud – You’re Among Friends!”
To find a full schedule of blues bands playing at the club, click here.
For more Chicago Scene fun, follow @tomwgnchicago on Instagram.