“Our Chicago Sound: Jazz, Blues & Beyond” is a tour with extras. Featured on WGN evening news, the two-and-a-half-hour event redefines the concept of the “tour” with an interactive dynamic, a one-on-one with a local musician, and glimpses at sites typical tourists never see.
Video screens on the bus illuminate the past while the guide delves into the people, politics and culture that have made Chicago a hotbed for musical innovation. Guests get to make music of their own with a harmonica demo, stop for a red velvet cookie break, and get an up -close look at relics of a former 1920’s jazz club where Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines once played.
Chicago Detours guides share vivid stories and thought-provoking perspectives on the Great Migration, Maxwell Street market, the rift between jazz and blues communities, and the recording techniques of Chess Records.
You get a lesson on different types of jazz and blues and an eye-opening walk around Uptown.
The photos and documentary clips bring you up to speed on musical artists, former recording studios, clubs and theaters.
Take a sneak peek with this video produced by Chicago Detours.
“We curate our tours to include a wide variety of perspectives,” Scotese says. “Both by connecting with people who have lived the history, and also by studying archival materials like personal letters, club flyers, and old magazines.”
Chicago Detours has other offerings, including a walking tour “Good Times Around Michigan Ave.,” that explores drinking culture, elite entertainment, underground clubs, and vices, tying it to architecture located on side-streets off the tourist thoroughfare.
If you need to get out of the weather, Chicago Detours’ indoor walking tour, called “Inside the Loop: Explore the Unexpected” let’s you stroll through the pedways and hidden underground connections between buildings in the Loop.
Guides do not take tips; rather they take donations for worthy causes, such as initiatives to give tours to local schools free of charge. For the Jazz and Blues tour, they have partnered with the Jazz Institute and Blues Camp to support their educational initiatives. Get information on hours and rates at www.chicagodetours.com/tours.
Jazz Record Mart serves as the meeting and end point for the tour. Reservations are required. Tours are held Saturdays through September 10th, the weekend after the Jazz Festival. Tours start at 10am and 1:15pm, and last 2.5 hours. Get a third off the ticket price, reservations must be made online using code THIRD. Contact: Amanda Scotese Phone: 312.350.1131 www.chicagodetours.com
- New Ways to See Our Town from Chicago Detours (chicagotalks.org)