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FEATURES -- Mardi Gras in Chicago 2010

Can’t make it to New Orleans?

Celebrate Mardi Gras in Chicagoland

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

 Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco will play the Cubby Bear on Feb. 19

By Mike O’Cull & Linda Cain

            Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” falls on February 16th 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 whip up 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.


In the Suburbs


6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, IL -- Tel: 708-788-2118

Berwyn’s musical institution will bring a bit of Louisiana up north for the entire month of February with a fantastic band lineup:

Feb. 5: C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band -- $15 cover.

Feb. 6: C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band plus Webb Wilder -- $20.

Feb. 14: Valentine’s party with Beausoleil avec Michael Ducet -- $15.

Feb. 15: Beausoleil avec Michael Ducet, Jambalaya Cook-Off -- $15.

Feb. 16: Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound, Chicago Cajun Aces, Roy Rubenstein & the Chicago Hot Six -- $10.

Feb. 19: Terrence Simien and the Zydeco Experience (catch beads as the barefoot bandleader tosses them out with his toes!). The Velvet Jimis will also play. This will be a special night to raise funds for Haiti relief-- $20.

Terrence Simien

Terrence Simien/photo: Jennifer Wheeler

FitzGerald’s really cranks up the party machine for two of those nights on the 15th and 16th.  Fat Monday, Feb. 15, is their annual Jambalaya Cook-Off which features live Cajun music from Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet at 8 p.m. Patrons will line up to taste the contestants’ entries, which will be judged by a celebrity panel. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the tasting begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15.

 Fat Tuesday will be even bigger, with beads, coins, drink specials and New Orleans cuisine. The musical gumbo will be served up by Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound, Chicago Cajun Aces and Roy Rubinstein’s Hot Six Jazz Band. Doors open at 5 p.m. with music starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10. Southern comfort cuisine will be available from next-door neighbor Wishbone.


Chuck’s Southern Comfort Café

6501 W. 79th St., Burbank, IL --  Tel: 708-229-8700

 Chef Chuck Pine, formerly of Frontera Grill, is planning a FOUR night party!  The band lineup is:

 Feb. 12: Hurricane Gumbo

Feb 13: Special 20’s

 Feb. 15: Daryl Coutts;

 Feb. 16: Nick Moss.

 Nick MossThe all-you-can-eat buffet will offer a vast spread of Cajun/Creole delicacies. The buffet is open from 7 – 9 p.m. and the party continues until 2 a.m. each night.  Tickets are $40 for adults and $15 for kids ages 4 -12.  The price includes all food and entertainment.  The cash bar offers hurricanes, margaritas, mojitos and more. Tickets are available by calling the restaurant.

Nick Moss/photo: J. Wheeler

115 Bourbon Street

3359 W. 115th Street. Merroinette Park, IL -- Tel: 708-388-8881

This South Suburban venue’s motto is “Where the Windy City meets The Big Easy.” So you can expect them to let the good times roll with the Queens Of Mardi Gras, a flamboyant female impersonator show on Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. with a set by Boogie Shoes.  There’s a $5 cover starting at 8 p.m. The restaurant menu always includes New Orleans dishes like jambalaya, gumbo and crawfish etouffee.  

In Chicago

Buddy Guy’s Legends

754 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL – Tel: 312-427-0333

If beads and debauchery aren’t your thing, but you still have a taste for blues and Cajun-style eats, Legends offers the best of both. Louisiana native Buddy insists on serving authentic cuisine and Legends’ kitchen cooks up tasty dishes like fried okra, crawfish etouffee, shrimp creole and several gumbos.  They are open for lunch, dinner and late night.  On Fat Tuesday, Vino Louden (guitarist for the late Koko Taylor) and his band take the stage at 9:30 p.m. $10 cover charge.


Blue Bayou

3734 N. Southport – Tel: 773-871-3300

This restaurant/pub brings a bit of the bayou to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Its daily menu offers a host of New Orleans classics such as po’ boys, Johnny cakes, fried green tomatoes, muffallettas, jambalaya and gumbo. The bar features Abita beer, hurricanes and absinthe.  On Fat Tuesday it’s Daryl Coutts Blues Band leading the festivities. No cover.


Duffy’s Tavern & Grill

420 ½ W. Diversey – Tel: 773-549-9090

Mardi Gras maskThis Lincoln Park sports bar will offer a Fat Tuesday party package for $20 which includes a New Orleans style buffet with classics like red beans & rice, jambalaya, cornbread and more. The price also includes hurricane punch 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. No advance tickets are needed.


Smoke Daddy

1804 W. Division – Tel: 773-772-6656

This favorite Wicker Park BBQ diner will celebrate Mardi Gras with New Orleans-style music, food and beer, plus festive decorations and beads for all on Feb.16. There’s no cover to hear Cajun/Zydeco band Carpet Bagger Local 606 at 9 p.m.  The Daddy’s delicious BBQ menu will be expanded to include Louisiana cuisine like chicken & sausage gumbo, boiled crawfish and more.  An Abita brewery representative will be on hand to give out free samples to patrons who order from the beer tasting menu.


Lee's Unleaded Blues

7401 S. Chicago Ave. – Tel: 773- 493-3477

“Chicago’s favorite juke joint” since the ‘70s, Lee’s (once the Queen Bee Lounge) is a South Side staple for down home blues and more. The club will celebrate Mardi Gras on Feb. 12 with New Orleans Beau & the Big Easy Band. The $10 cover includes munchies to go with your hurricanes. The party will go from 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Cubby Bear

1059 W. Addison – Tel: 773-327-1662

The Mardi Gras spirit comes to Wrigleyville a bit late on Friday Feb. 19, but don’t miss this chance to hear Louisiana’s premier accordion player, Buckwheat Zydeco, who was just nominated for a Grammy for his Alligator Records CD, Lay Your Burden Down, on which he covers Led Zeppelin, Gov’t. Mule and Captain Beefheart in his own style. Funk-soul-R&B horn band Lubriphonic opens. Put on your dancin’ shoes! Doors open 8 p.m. with showtime at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20.


Momo Mama Blue Chicago
Blue Chicago
536 N. Clark
Chicago, IL
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