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Chicago Treasures: Kingston Mines

J.W. Williams performs on Kingston Mines’ North Stage

Chicago’s unique connection to music has always been part of the city’s rich identity. In the early 20th century, Black Americans migrated from the South to cities like Chicago, bringing a vibrant tradition of blues. Today, we’re taking a look at one of the city’s most established venues that has continued to expand the blues genre throughout its 54-year existence, Kingston Mines

J.W. Williams performs on Kingston Mines’ North Stage
J.W. Williams performs on Kingston Mines’ North Stage

Founded in 1968, this iconic blues club received its name from another influential venue in the community, the Kingston Mines Theatre Company, which lived just three blocks from the bar’s current location in Lincoln Park. The local theatre was a pioneer of its own, launching the original musical production of Grease in 1971 before it traveled to Broadway just one year later. 

Kingston Mines opened as a café within the renowned theatre. After the venue’s closure in 1973, the café survived as a blues club in the building and eventually moved to its current location at 2548 N Halsted St in 1982. 

Today, the beloved club continues to expand its legacy as the largest and oldest operating blues club in Chicago. The venue holds multiple unique staging setups that allow two bands to take the stage every night for intimate yet thrilling performances. Throughout its nearly 55 year history, countless blues icons have graced Kingston Mines’ stages, including Magic Slim, Koko Taylor and Carl Weathersby, among other regular performers. 

Along with their legendary music, the club is heralded for the tasty meals served at Doc’s Kitchen, their in-house eatery. Hungry visitors can find anything from the iconic catfish and burgers to gumbo and wings. 

For years, Kingston Mines has garnered awards and accolades that recognize its passion for preserving and advancing the blues genre. Along with being named the Best Blues Club by the Chicago Reader, they have been acknowledged by Chicago Music Awards as the Most Popular Blues Club and the Torch Bearer of Blues in Chicago Award. 

Whether you’re going to Kingston Mines for one of their always-exciting performances or for their delicious bites, you’re sure to have a night you won’t forget. The blues club is open Thursdays and Fridays from 7 p.m. – 4 a.m. and Saturdays from 7 p.m. – 5 a.m.