Best Folk Music Venues In Chicago

August 18, 2016 7:00 AM

Having begun in the 1940’s and then surging in popularity in the 1960’s, American folk-music again is enjoying a revival of sorts. Maybe it’s because of the recent wars in the world and people yearn for peace, or maybe because it’s one of those things that have stood the test of time as fads rise and fall by the wayside. But regardless of why folk music always seems to appeal to a great many music lovers, it’s here to stay. And fortunately the Chicago-area is always just filled to the brim with great music options – folk being one of them, so here are some of the best folk music venues in Chicago to check out.
77 Beats (Photo Credit: Old Town School of Folk Music's Facebook)

77 Beats (Photo Credit: Old Town School of Folk Music’s Facebook)

The Old Town School Of Folk Music
4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60625
(773) 728-6000

Since first opening its doors in 1957, The Old Town School of Folk Music has been the primary place to hear live folk music, and to actually learn how to play it as well. With more than 6,500 students today – almost half of which are children – The Old Town School of Folk Music offers hundreds of music classes and workshops and it’s all happening seven days a week, 48 weeks per year. And as far as checking out some great live music, most Wednesdays offers free concerts year-round. Check out the website for a full list of all the classes offered for everyone from babies to adults, and the full list of concerts and events coming up as well.

The Lake County Folk Club
Primo restaurant
720 Milwaukee Ave.
Gurnee, IL. 60031
(847) 336-3446

With a mission of promoting the performance and preservation of folk music, The Lake County Folk Club is leading by example. Offering concerts, open stages, and workshops and more throughout Lake County and beyond, this interactive not-for-profit group provides folk music simply for the love of it – – – and for everyone else who loves it too. The group meets on Sunday evenings at Primo Restaurant – on the second Sunday of each month is the group’s open stage night hosted by an accomplished banjoist and guitarist, singer, songwriter and music teacher. On the third Sunday of every month The Lake County Folk Club holds their live concert stage performance in an intimate setting, and on the fourth Sunday of each month is the song circle. Participants form a circle where each person can choose to play a song a song of their own choosing, or simply relax and enjoy some great tunes and the kinship of the circle.

(Photo Credit:

(Photo Credit:

1245 Chicago Ave.
Evanston, IL. 60202
(847) 492-8860

Not exclusively a folk music venue but one where it’s enjoyed often is SPACE in near-by Evanston, Illinois. Warm and homey, since 2008 SPACE hasn’t allowed themselves to be pegged as a ‘folk club,’ ‘jazz club’ or a ‘rock club,’ etc, they’re simply an intimate ‘space’ – if you will – where kindred spirits can come together to enjoy some of the best in music. Check the entertainment calendar on SPACE’s website for your folk-favorites coming to play live, and once there you can decide what sort of experience you’d like to have, be it seated at a table or swaying on the dance floor. And one of the great things about SPACE is that unless otherwise indicated for a particular performance, all of the shows are all ages, so you can bring the entire family to take in some great tunes together.

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City Winery
1200 W Randolph St.
Chicago, IL. 60607
(312) 733-9463

Whomever coined the term ‘chill’ pertaining to a relaxing place to hang out in was probably thinking about City Winery located in the heart of Chicago. Originally a food distribution warehouse, this 1911 structure was transformed into the intimate venue it is today by using original wood beams and bricks as well as classic masonry, resulting in a warm place with character to see live music, learn how to make wine, and enjoy dinner and drinks with friends and loved ones. With live performances seven nights a week, check City Winery’s website for a full list of events and all of your favorite folk artists coming to play in this wonderful setting. Carleen Carter, Del McCoury & David Grisman, Solas, Duffy Sainte-Marie, and Donovan Woods are just a few of the great folk artists and bands coming to City Winery in the weeks to come.

Schubas Tavern  
3159 N Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60657
(773) 525-2508

Smack-dab in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is a gem for kicking back with friends over a few drinks and enjoying some live music – Schubas Tavern. Formerly a public house for Schlitz Brewery, the charm has remained and continues on in this lively yet relaxed, intimate establishment. Known for bringing some of the best folk, country, and indie artists out to play live, Schubas has also got a quality level of acoustics for a bar in the city, making the live music performed there even more enjoyable. Without a bad spot in the house to both see and listen to live acts, and with an extensive food menu it’s a great place to grab some dinner as well.

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Soon after earning her BA in journalism, Melanie Falina began writing about one of the loves of her life – music. Since then, she’s covered some of the biggest names in music, in addition to writing on an array of other topics as well. She has written for Black Belt magazine, KISS: The Official Authorized Quarterly Magazine, Examiner,, Yahoo Voices, and more, and was editor for Don Lemmon’s KNOW HOW Book Three, Refuse To Fail. Melanie is also a poet with six published collections of poetry available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various establishments.