Your Complete Guide to the Chicago Blues Scene
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Celebrate Mardi Gras 2013 in Chicagoland
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” falls on February 12 this year and is the last day of feasting, drinking and dancing before Lent kicks in on Ash Wednesday, when we are supposed to give up our physically lustful ways and be good until Easter. Now, we all know that blues fans aren’t known for their self-control or their denial of earthly desires, so we here at Chicago Blues Guide want help our loyal readers with some recommendations on where to celebrate Fat Tuesday in Chicagoland, if they cannot make it to the official festivities in the Big Easy.
Mardi Gras has become much more than a New Orleans tradition, however, and is celebrated anywhere that people carry the spirit of the Crescent City in their hearts. So grab some hurricanes, eat something smothered in hot sauce, turn up the blues, zydeco, R&B or whatever you like, and join the party. And don’t forget to bring home some beads.
Brookfield Mardi Gras Fest/Pub Crawl
Sponsored by the Brookfield Bar Owners Association.
Feb. 9: 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Free trolleys will transport fest goers between 13 different Brookfield Bars and restaurants. Most bars will have live bands, Mardi Gras drinks and beads. Some venues offer Cajun and Creole cuisine. Venues include: Blue Water Lounge, Brixie’s, Cordial Inn, Grand Tavern, Irish Times, Joe’s Saloon, Off Broadway Pub, Phil’s Sports Bar & Grill, Ryan’s Public House, Salt Creek Wine Bar, The Sanctuary, Slager’s, Traxx Side.
6501 W. 79th St., Burbank, IL – Tel: 708-229-8700
Feb. 11: Hurricane Gumbo
Feb. 12: Sweet Potato Zydeco
New Orleans cuisine and Southern BBQ are only some of Chef Chuck Pine’s specialties in this SW suburban restaurant. To celebrate Fat Monday and Fat Tuesday, Chuck’s Café will offer both cuisines in a tapas style menu so diners can sample many Louisiana delights in one visit. Reservations are highly recommended. The live music goes from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. both nights.
681 W. North Ave., Elmhurst, IL – Tel: 630-279-9700
Feb. 12: Charity Benefit with Mojo & The Bayou Gypsies w/ Forget Hannah
Popular zydeco band Mojo & The Bayou Gypsies will literally let the good times roll as they perform for this benefit to raise money for the Special Bikes for Special Kids program. Shriners Chicago Hospital, in collaboration with Men in Brotherhood and Elmhurst Lodge, will host the event. For tickets, CLICK or call 630-415-1405.
420 ½ W. Diversey, Chicago, IL – Tel: 773-549-9090
Feb. 12: Mardi Gras party with Hurricane Gumbo
This Lincoln Park sports bar will throw its 12th annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball. The party package for $20 (advance tickets) includes a New Orleans style buffet. The price also includes hurricanes and all draft beers. Hurricane Gumbo, an eight-piece band that combines zydeco, R&B, jazz and funk to produce a sound that can only be called Louisiana party music, will perform. Get ready to catch some beads! The party goes from 8 – 11 p.m.
6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, IL -- Tel: 708-788-2118
Feb. 11: Jambalaya Cookoff w/ Paul Cebar & Tomorrow Sound
Feb. 12: Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Brother John Kattke, Roy Rubenstein’s Chicago Hot Six. This is a fundraiser for musician Tim Betts.
FitzGerald’s hosts its 18th annual Jambalaya Cookoff on Fat Monday 2/11. Patrons can taste the competing cooks’ entries, which will be judged by a celebrity panel. Paul Cebar will perform following the cookoff. The party starts at 7 p.m., $15 cover.
Fat Tuesday 2/12, will feature four bands, starting at 6 p.m., along with beads, New Orleans food and drink specials. $15 cover. This is a fundraiser for musician Tim Betts, who plays guitar with CJ Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band.
44 Yorktown Convenience Center, Lombard, IL – Tel: 630-495-2700
Feb. 12: Downtown Charlie Brown w/ Washboard Jo
This New Orleans style restaurant’s impressive menu serves up authentic Cajun & Creole cuisine daily, including gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish etouffee’. Of course any eatery that serves beignets knows how to throw a fun Mardi Gras party with live music, hurricanes, Abita beer and beads for all.
329 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL – Tel: 312-923-2000
Feb. 11: Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings
House of Blues will be serving up Mardi Gras specials for lunch and dinner from Feb. 8 – 12, including seafood gumbo, Cajun catfish bites, beignets and hurricanes. If you order from the Mardi Gras menu, you will receive an extra special set of beads which can be used for a 20% discount at the HOB souvenir shop on Fat Tuesday. (Note: the restaurant will be closed on Fat Tuesday night for a private event).
600 N. Michigan at Rush St. (2nd Floor), Chicago, IL – Tel: 312-280-7774
224 S. Main Street, Naperville, IL – Tel: 630-717-0777
Feb. 12: Professor John at Rush Street location
Le Travaillent at Naperville location
This well-known Cajun eatery is owned by Chef Jimmy Bannos, where every day is Mardi Gras. Or as they like to say, “Party now, sleep later.” Heaven on Seven has locations in Chicago and Naperville, while the original lunch diner is still in Chicago’s historic Garland building, 111 N. Wabash on the 7th floor. Thus the name, Heaven on Seven.
13301 S. Old Western Ave., Blue Island, IL – Tel: 708-388-3461
Feb. 12: The Mudcats (Dixieland jazz)
Open since 1975, The Maple Tree Inn is Chicagoland’s longest running Cajun/Creole restaurant. The “Louisiana brasserie” will celebrate Fat Tuesday with a four-course sit down menu with many entree choices for $35. Reservations are required. There will be a heated beer tent offering dozens of brews, along with beads, masks and of course hurricanes and Creole voodoo zombies, a house specialty drink.
510 Lockport St., Plainfield, IL --Tel: 815-230-2790
Feb.12: Harmonica Hines, Chicago Blues Angels
This suburban French Quarter-themed restaurant and nightclub’s daily menu items include po’ boys, jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish etouffee, alligator fricassee, Caribbean cuisine and more. So of course they go all out for Mardi Gras. Two bars will serve up cocktails galore, including hurricanes, planters punch, Abita and Dixie beers and much more. King cake will be offered to revelers, along with masks and beads that will be tossed out all night.
21 E. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL – Tel: 312-527-2722
1900 E. Higgins Rd., Schaumburg, IL – Tel: 847-517-2722
Feb. 11: Big Dog Mercer at Chicago venue
Feb 12: Matt Steadman at Schaumburg venue
Mississippi Heat at Chicago venue
Both Shaw’s locations, in downtown Chicago and the NW suburbs, will let the good times roll with live blues, specialty New Orleans items like crawfish po’ boys, Cajun and Creole dishes, blackened redfish, jambalaya, gumbo and much more. Hurricanes and oyster specials (25-cents in Schaumburg and half-price in Chicago) will be offered at various times in each location.
Shaw’s in Schaumburg also will serve up free king cake to diners. Anyone lucky enough to find the tiny plastic “Baby Jesus” in their cake will be awarded a certificate entitling them to dinner for two at the Tokio Pub and also at the Grand Crab Buffet.
1400 S. Western Ave. (south of Ogden), Chicago – Tel: 312-243-7988 or 708-703-3162
Feb. 12: Victor Wainwright & the Wildroots
This low key neighborhood bar, located near the UIC campus, will go all out for Mardi Gras by serving up a New Orleans menu and importing high octane boogie piano man Wainwright & his ace band from Memphis! The popular Beale Street keyboardist is a multiple nominee for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player/ BMA Award from the Blues Foundation. Wainwright rarely performs in Chicago, so don’t miss him this time.