Chicago Blues Fest and a Bus Tour

As Chicago gears up for Blues Fest this weekend, we at Chicago Detours are preparing to celebrate the musical history of Chicago with our Jazz, Blues & Beyond tour, held this Saturday, June 8, 10:30am-1:00pm. This bus tour explores neighborhoods north to south and details Chicago blues and jazz’s roles in our cultural heritage.

Jazz, Blues, and Beyond Bus Tour

This tour only offered to the public twice a year during Blues Fest and Jazz Fest weekends. I had the pleasure of taking this tour last June. I am usually a tour guide with Chicago Detours, so it was a lot of fun to step out of the limelight for a moment. With Amanda as our tour guide I could just be a curious tourist. After meeting at the Jazz Record Mart, we hopped on our tour bus and headed towards Uptown. On the way, Amanda used the video screens on the bus to present all sorts of historic multimedia.  These sound and film clips helped to explain the beginnings and the popularity of the jazz scene in Uptown

The Green Mille and the Aragon Ballroom

Chicago blues tour
Photo Credit: Kate Joyce

Once there, we stepped off the bus to discuss and enjoy the architecture of both the Aragon Ballroom and the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, which just so happens to be my favorite bar in Chicago. As per usual, I was impressed that Amanda could point out aspects of the Green Mill’s architecture that I had never noticed before. A lot of locals on the tour were surprised, too. They had gone by these venues so many times, but never paused to really look at the architecture.

The South Side and Bronzeville

Then we headed south while discussing the evolution and characteristics of jazz and blues. We did this with a rather heated game, which many on the tour said was their favorite part. In Bronzeville, we really got into the social aspects of music. Amanda told us about the Great Migration and the Stroll. This is where the big names of Chicago blues and jazz started to get dropped: Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy and Louis Armstrong among many. We also got to see Chess Records, a landmark for Chicago blues history.  The tour bus even paused so we could enter a historic jazz club. This exclusive access let us see the decades-old mural that decorated its stage.

Photo Credit: Kate Joyce

Harmonica Lesson and More Fun!

On our way back north, a blues musician joined us. He played us some Chicago blues and taught a rather exhilarating harmonica lesson to the group.  My guest on the tour considered this the highlight of the tour experience. And, if you promise to continue your practice, you get to take home your harmonica as a gift from Chicago Detours.

Since this is such a fun and educational tour, you might be asking yourself why we only offer it twice a year. Well that’s because it is offered year-round as a private tour for company team-building and all sorts of celebrations. As a private group tour it also has optional add-ons, like a soul-food buffet for a lunch or dinner stop.

But I recommend you check out this blues history tour this Saturday with a date or with a few friends as a part of your Blues Fest weekend. Reservations for this tour, to be held Saturday June 8, 10:30am-1:00pm and expected to sell out, are required via Hope to see you there!

— Elizabeth Tieri, Chicago Detours Tour Guide


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F

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