Chicago Music History Lesson

June 21, 2024

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The outstanding music played every night at Howl at the Moon has to come from somewhere! We are digging all the way down to the roots, taking a look at the local legends and heroes that brought out the soul, the rock, and the pop of the cities that Howl calls home. We are kicking things off in the Windy City of Chicago, where there has been no shortage of musicians to have emerged and left a distinct stamp on the city’s musical voice. Here’s some of the finest musicians to gave the city on Lake Michigan its tone.

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Chicago has always been the northern home to the blues. From Muddy Waters to Buddy Guy and Howlin’ Wolf (our personal favorite), each musician applied a rustic, worksman attitude to their craft and found an audience with the blue-collar struggle of industrial Chicago through the depression, post-war era, and even the brighter days ahead. Since then, the Chicago blues influence has shined on in R&B musicians as diverse as Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan and more recently, Jennifer Hudson and Jeremih. With the genres offshoots growing in popularity over the years, pure-R&B musicians in Chicago can be somewhat of a rarity these days, but the soul that carried over from Chicago’s first blues musicians has touched an even new kind of artist—creating a unique brand of hip-hop that is distinctly Chicago.

Chicago’s rappers and hip-hop artists are about as prideful as they come. Whether they got their start performing at one of the city’s bounty of arts high schools and colleges or cut their teeth in underground shows and mixtapes, Chicago’s rap and hip-hop artists make up one of the richest and thriving musical scenes in recent memory. Groups and solo emcees such as D.O.D., Common and Shawna led the way in the 90’s, establishing a smoother sound that was unique from the rambunctious East Coast and West coast hip-hop collectives. The city finally found a true icon of hip-hop culture in the early 2000’s as Kanye West emerged as more than just a producer, but a hyper-qualified emcee himself. Kanye’s conquering of the industry, alongside fellow hometown rappers like Lupe Fiasco, cemented Chicago as a true hip-hop community and opened the door for contemporaries like Chance the Rapper and Kid Cudi to remix the score in their own image.

While the blues may have morphed itself into R&B and later rap, it also spun off another brand of music after World War II. Chicago experienced a boom in rock musicians as the genre began to dominate through the 1960’s and 70’s, again carrying over the unique soul of Chicago’s blues pioneers with thrilling performances and excitingly candid albums. The aptly named Chicago wowed audiences with a full brass band flanked by electric guitars while Patti Smith belted at the top of her lungs night-in and night-out. As music continued to spin-off through the decades, Chicago’s scene began to develop a heavier tone and became one of the country’s biggest hubs for punk rock’s rebellion. Since the 1980’s, Chicago has been the birthing place of legendary punk and alternative acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, Rise Against, Fall Out Boy, The Lawrence Arms, Matt Skiba and much more. Chicago’s centralized location made it the perfect grounds for a new breed of punk’s counterculture to arise, with no alliances to any coast or subset necessary—just the freedom to play exactly how you would like.

Live Music Venue

The spirit of Chicago’s music lives on seven nights a week at Howl at the Moon! Howl is Chicago’s best party venue to have a blast all night, featuring outstanding drinks, tons of space, and the best live music show in the city. Our musicians play the biggest hit songs and plenty of crowd requests throughout the night, meaning there’s never a dull moment during our show! Parties and events of any kind are even perfect at Howl, with table reservations, semi-private space, and full venue buyouts available for parties of up to 400 guests. Book with us today and get ready to make your next birthday party, anniversary party, bachelor party, bachelorette party, holiday party, corporate event and more howl!

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