The January Blues

After the memory of an uncharacteristically warm December fades, and the afterglow of the holidays dwindles, many of us find ourselves settling back into the rhythms of an icy January work week. We are only about a month from Valentine’s Day and two months from St. Patrick’s Day (and Easter shortly thereafter), but the blustery days of winter are already seeming to drag on.

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One great way to fight the chill is to take part in what has become an annual tradition for many Chicago Blues fans (myself and close friends included). Every January, the legendary Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy performs a series of concerts at his eponymous blues club in the South Loop (Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash Ave., www.buddyguy.com), and they are not to be missed.

Buddy has performed and collaborated with some of the biggest names in Blues, such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B.B. King, and has inspired and influenced multiple generations of guitarists and musicians, including Eric Clapton and John Mayer. And while his Legends Blues club hosts live music 7 days a week, all year long, it’s only once a year that Buddy takes the stage and gives his adoring fans what they really want to see… Buddy himself shredding, schmoozing, crooning and flirting his way through a 2+ hour library of blues classics that he has crafted over the past five decades.

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Regardless of where you live, it’ll be worth your while to head down to the South Loop for one of his Thursday-Sunday shows and catch Buddy in action while you can. Tickets and tables go fast, so reserve ahead of time and get there early. If you do, you’re sure to experience an amazing performance and to forget about the icy Chicago winter outside, if only for a while.

Buddy Guy’s Legends is located at 700 S. Wabash Ave., at the corner of Wabash and Balbo. Save on parking and take the CTA Red Line to the Harrison stop, just two blocks away.

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High Speed Rail Update

A friend of the blog tipped us off to a story the Des Moines press ran yesterday about a proposed high speed rail link from Chicago to the western edge of Iowa and eastern edge of Nebraska, with stops in the Quad Cities, Des Moines, and Council Bluffs along the way. With many Chicagoans having ties to the Hawkeye State (and vice versa), this seems like a great way to spur the adoption of mass transit across a large tract of the Midwest. Let’s hope there is the political will and funding required to make it a reality.

http://www.kcci.com/news/central-iowa/Meetings-planned-on-DM-to-Chicago-rail-service/-/9357080/17718324/-/14qbtrnz/-/index.html

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On the Go: State Street, that Great Street

Chicago’s great State Street department store has its halls decked and garland strung. Stop by the former Marshall Field’s building on a weekday to admire the 100+ year old store’s annual holiday celebration without all the tourist and weekend suburban throngs. As always, the State Street windows, Giant Christmas Tree, and Walnut Room dining are a central part of the downtown holiday experience. Whether you’re new to the city or have been here for decades, it’s hard to deny this is one of the best times to be a Chicagoan (slightly behind the May-September warm season). And for the less sentimental among us, visiting the store is an interesting peak into the past, when 1 million+ sq. ft. department stores were the centerpiece of Chicago’s high society. (To put that into perspective, the big-box stores of today are typically a couple hundred-thousand square feet or less.)

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Macy’s and the State Street shopping experience are accessible via any of the Loop elevated stations, or via the Red Line or Blue Line subways. Don’t miss it.

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Roosevelt Collection Update (via sloopin.com)

Sloopin, one of my favorite neighborhood blogs for ear-to-the-ground news, just posted this update on Roosevelt Collection’s latest retail announcement. Very exciting news for the South Loop…but we’re still waiting to hear about that often-rumored Apple Store! Check it out…

http://www.sloopin.com/2012/11/roosevelt-collection-announces-variety.html

Roosevelt Collection is just a few blocks west of the CTA Roosevelt Red Line stop.

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On the Go: The Wrigley Building’s Facelift

It’s hard to believe that it took so long, but this past summer, the City of Chicago finally granted Historic Landmark status to the Chicago River’s most elegant and universally loved building.  Now, nearly 90 years after its birth and a recent change of ownership, work is underway to deliver a series of interior and exterior restorations to the Wrigley Building (http://www.thewrigleybuilding.com/news.html).

While much of the ground floor is currently blocked from view, this quick shot of the newly exposed masonry columns provides an interesting glimpse behind the glazed terra cotta facade. This rare peek into the past also makes us ponder the future of our great buildings. For this writer, at least, it calls to mind the ruins of Rome and Athens, whose brilliant marble skins have long since been stripped away, leaving nothing more than columns that look very much like what we can briefly now see on Michigan Avenue.

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The Wrigley Building is within walking distance from multiple CTA bus stops, as well as the State/Lake and Grand train stations.

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On the Go: Jones College Prep

The new Jones College Prep building on south State Street seems to grow larger by the day, as construction crews continue to fill out the interior of the structural skeleton that went up this summer. The last we heard, the school is slated to open its doors to over 1,200 students next fall.

There is apparently some controversy over the fate of the current facility that is located on the north end of the same block (see http://www.reusejones.org and http://blog.chicagoarchitecture.info/2012/09/26/status-update-new-jones-prep-high-school/). However, there is no arguing that the new building will be a welcome addition to the South Loop, both for its sleek, modern design and its positive social impact on the neighborhood.

Jones College Prep is located immediately adjacent to the CTA’s Harrison Red Line stop.

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On the Go: The Big Tree

Yes, we are only 4 days post-Halloween, but the inexorable march of holiday cheer rolls on. A 64-foot Colorado Spruce from the northwest ‘burbs is now standing in Daley Plaza, which means that the holidays are just around the corner (well, kind of).

If you haven’t attended before, make sure to check out the tree lighting event on November 20, or at least the Christkindlmarket holiday village that opens on the same day. Even if the holiday season isn’t your cup of cheer, the hot wine and German beers are reason enough to make the trip.

Head over to http://www.christkindlmarket.com for more details.

Daley Plaza is served by the CTA blue line’s Washington stop.

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