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Best Ways To Support Chicago's Local Music Scene

By Jacqueline Runice

You can see live performances by local artists every night of the week in Chicago but what you can't decipher by taking in a show is if the venue is pocketing the cover and not paying the band - or even giving them a few free drinks for the effort. Local artists slog away at day jobs, rehearse, record, promote their shows, schlep equipment, pay for gas and try to make the rent on paltry amounts of money. So many are genuinely talented and extremely driven but your support can mean a push toward success of the national level. Support these businesses and you'll be doing a solid for Chicago artists.

2683 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 348-9800

Lincoln Park's aliveOne presents live music performances every Wednesday and Thursday nights that very locally driven. Check the web site for free shows featuring local bands. "Many of our staff are local musicians as well," explains David Halpern, Managing Partner, 4 Entertainment Group, LLC.  Home of the all live jukebox, ailveOne has been at it for more than 20 years.

The Owl
2521 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 235-5300

The Owl currently has a monthly Monday residency with the beloved but now closed Double Door, called "Double Door Presents."  The booking menager from the old Double Door books two local bands for the show which is the first Monday of every month.  Sarah Crossley, General Manager at The Owl says, "We also have a monthly Sunday residency called Neo Beats which usually has two local bands booked per bill.  I personally book a couple of shows each month that also have at least one to two local bands per bill."  Pair your visit with a great craft beer list and gazing at an indoor waterfall. Aptly named, The Owl is open until 4 a.m. every night, 5 a.m. on Saturday.

(312) 767-8663

Do312 is a media platform for event listing and promotion that focuses on highlighting the city's burgeoning music scene. When you want to get out any night of the week, you can quickly connect with shows relevant to your tastes on the site. It also provides  tools for artists to connect with fans: artists have a profile on Do312 to showcase their media and upcoming shows and fans can follow an artist on Do312 to receive notifications whenever they add a new show. Do312 works with musicians to drive interest and grow their fan list. Not just an event calendar, content on Do312 is handpicked by a team of humans who genuinely love music and festivals. Don't miss the annual Rock'n'Roll Market with performances by local rock bands, food trucks, activities and vendors from the DIY scene.

Related:  Best Locally Owned Coffee Shops In Chicago

Bric-a-Brac Records & Collectibles 
3156 W. Diversey Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 654-3915

Bric-a-Brac Records & Collectibles  frequently hosts all ages events and tries to coordinate shows with larger touring groups playing 21+ or 18+ clubs so everyone gets a chance to see them. According to manager, Nick Mayor, "While we do take more of an active curatorial role in booking the local acts that play the shop, we never turn a local band down if they have cassettes or vinyl releases they'd like to sell on consignment. We also try to work with local visual artists for our in-store decor as well as poster designs." It sounds as though local artists have a friend at Diversey and Kedzie.

The Whistler
2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 227-3530

The Logan Square space is a cocktail lounge, art gallery, live music venue and in-house record label called Whistler Records. The record label and digital music platform, Weekly Free, gives all proceeds back to local and touring artists. It's the first independent label to give all of a record's sales profit (vinyl, cassette, digital download and CDs) back to the artist who has played venue's stage. Owners Billy Helmkamp and Rob Brenner recently opened Sleeping Village, an all-day gathering spot for coffee, beer, cocktails and live music in a 300-capacity music venue that will also feature local and touring artists.

Related: Best Places To Meet New People In Chicago


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