New Checkerboard Lounge

5201 S. Harper Ct. (5200S, 1500E) Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 684-1472)

What happens when the self-proclaimed “Home of the Blues” becomes homeless? The Checkerboard Lounge was opened in 1972 by Buddy Guy at 423 E. 43d Street in Bronzeville and played host to B.B. King, Magic Slim, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, and Robert Plant. In addition to local regulars, the Checkerboard attracted University of Chicago students and European tourists, who paid $8 for a guy on the street to watch their cars. The interior was run-down, but people loved the music, Aretha’s Corner (a waitress), and a guy that regularly dressed up as the Lone Ranger. When the city shut down the bar in April 2003 for building code violations, blues lovers lamented its demise. Fortunately, U of C made a deal with current proprietor L.C. Thurman and the club re-opened over two years later, in the old Women’s Workout World in the Harper Court Shopping Center. Today, a ramp leads up to the New Checkerboard Lounge, a more spacious and comfortable incarnation. Bands play on a checkerboard stage, observed by photos of Muddy Waters and Billie Holliday. Jazz and blues alternate during the week with bands starting at 9:30pm-ish and later on Saturdays. Sunday nights feature “CheckerJAZZ,” hosted by the Hyde Park Jazz Society from 7:30-11:30pm. For more information and to see who’s playing, check out the New Checkerboard website.

Full review coming soon…