Blues lovers in Chicago are fortunate to have so many options to hear the blues. We can hear live blues played in small clubs every night of the week. Is there another city that offers more live blues? I plan to write more about this in future post.
Chicago radio also provides many hours of blues for fans. Two radio stations offer weekly opportunities to listen to old favorites and discover new ones.
While it’s primarily a rock station, WXRT-FM (93.1) offers an hour of good blues on Tom Marker’s Blues Breakers program every Monday night at 9:00 PM. If you don’t live in the Chicago area, you can, of course, listen online, as is the case with most radio stations today. Complete playlists are also available online.
The best station for the blues isn’t even in Chicago. WDCB-FM (90.9) is owned and operated by The College of DuPage in the far western suburb of Glen Ellyn. While the majority of their excellent programming is devoted to jazz (I love jazz too, so I listen a lot), they devote many hours to diverse a array of blues.
Scott ‘Hambone’ Hammer hosts Hambone’s Blues Party on Thursdays from 10:00 PM to midnight. Hambone has hosted the Blues Party since November 1995. In addition to recorded blues, he often has musicians and bands in the studio for interviews and live performances.
If you need a reason to spend Saturday night at home, ten hours of blues is as good as any. The evening starts with the locally produced Blues Edition from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.
Blues from the Red Rooster Lounge has originated from Boulder’s KBCO 97.3 FM since April 1985. It runs on WDCB-FM from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Saturday. For 12 years the Rooster (known off-air as Cary Wolfson) was the founder and publisher of Blues Access Magazine.
From 10:00 to 11:00 PM, Leslie Keros’ Chicago Bound celebrates musicians with a strong Chicago connection. The Chicago blues scene has played a central role in the development of the music, so there is a lot to celebrate. Keros continues from 11:00 to midnight with Messin’ with the Blues, a program that explores the various styles of blues.
For the night owls, Steve Cushing hosts Blues Before Sunrise from midnight to 5:00 AM. Cushing has a deep and extensive knowledge of the heritage of the blues, as he has demonstrated for over thirty years on the show. Cushing plays early blues tracks you’ll here nowhere else. He has also published a couple of good books on the blues: Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews (2010) and Pioneers of the Blues Revival (2014).
If you don’t live in Chicago or simply want to listen to some blues right now, there are many options available online. Live 365, for example, lists 162 blues radio stations.