Chicago Blues Tour During Blues Fest

During Chicago Blues Festival weekend, yours truly (Chicago Detours) will offer a rare chance for local music lovers. Our Jazz, Blues, and Beyond Tour will be available to the general public. It’s normally only bookable by private groups, like field trips and corporate outings. This very special event on June 14 starts at 10:30am, before the Blues Fest shows begin. We meet at the Jazz Record Mart, a staple of Chicago music history, and then we visit architectural landmarks significant to Chicago jazz and blues history that tourists and even residents rarely see. We normally offer the tour only to private groups, for corporate team building or family reunions, and offer it to the public just once a year. And every year it sells out!

chicago blues tour woman face guitar
Photo Credit: Kate Joyce

This isn’t your typical tour of trivia history. We dig deep into the people, politics and culture that have made Chicago a hotbed for musical innovation. The two-and-a-half-hour special tour integrates presentation of archival images and video, expert guide commentary, and even a live blues performance on the bus with a harmonica lesson (always an unforgettable experience!) In between stops in Chicago neighborhoods from north to south, we use video screens on the bus to illuminate the past with historic interviews performances and photographs of recording studios, blues and jazz clubs and theaters.

Guests on past tours of Chicago blues and jazz have described it in five-star Yelp reviews: “An amazing adventure,” “Loved the harmonica lesson,” and “This is a MUST do if you live in Chicago.”

You can see a sneak peak of the Chicago Blues Tour in this video.

I was motivated to develop this tour a few years ago for a few reasons. One is that I love of Chicago music and its history. Two, with Chicago Detours we like taking groups on our tours to Chicago’s South Side. And lastly, despite that Chicago jazz and blues is such a big part of understanding Chicago, no tour company was offering an educational, fun tour that really involves tour guests with the history and architecture of Chicago music history.

bus tour chicago blues jazz history
Photo Credit: Kate Joyce

Come on this very special Chicago blues tour and you’ll hear vivid stories and thought-provoking perspectives on the Great Migration, Maxwell Street Market, and Chess Records. A game (with prizes) caps off a lesson on differences and similarities between jazz and blues. And not to forget a blues musician who hops on board to teach you how to play blues harmonica.

Another thing I love about this tour is that we start and end at the Jazz Record Mart, which is owned by Bob Koester. He’s been a fixture in the Chicago music scene for decades, and his Delmark Records has rights to plenty of recordings from Chess Records and other Chicago blues staples.

private group teambuilding activity jazz tou
Photo Credit: Kate Joyce

Reservations for the Chicago Blues Tour with Jazz on June 14th are required via Adult tickets for this premium experience are $65; students/seniors $60; kids under 12 $50, and include bus transport, tour guide commentary, multimedia presentation, live blues musician performance, harmonica lesson and gift, and other extras. We keep the group capped at 26 so no one feels like they are being herded around. It sells out every year and we hope you can join us!
— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


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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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