Walkin’ in Memphis? No, This is Dearborn Street

House of Blues Foundation Room

House of Blues Foundation Room

It’s funky. There’s voodoo in the air. The green room isn’t green, but its bathroom bears the autographs of Lady Gaga, Michael J. Fox and countless other celebrities.

Michael J. Fox signature at House of Blues

Michael J. Fox signature at House of Blues

If you figured out I’m not describing the First United Methodist Church, you’d be correct.

This is the Chicago House of Blues. The Bertrand Goldberg-designed concert venue-restaurant-bar inside Marina City.  The venue was erected in 1967. During the CAF’s 2013 Open House Chicago weekend, I explored the inner sanctum at 329 North Dearborn Street.

The tour began oddly, as one would expect. We took the freight elevator upstairs. It was kind of grimy, although the burning candle offered a touch of class.

“All the stars come in this way,” said the elevator operator. “Sometimes, we clean it up a little, if B.B. King is coming. Or Mayor Emanuel.”

I’d never really considered Rahm a blues legend, but what do I know?

House of BluesThe green room does have some green in it. Reds, blues, cyans, verdigris, and maybe another gazillion colors, as well. For that matter, the entire joint is pretty colorful inside, but it’s dimly lit. Your eyes eventually become acclimated to the gauzy, hazy House of Blues vibe, though.

We also got a close-up look at the stage facing in the main concert hall.

“It’s dedicated to Isaac Tiggrett’s mom,” an HOB staffer explained about the founder, “because she was an opera singer, and the room has an opera house feel.”

The symbols of various religions above the stage is a nod to the House of Blues mission to promote racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence.

House of Blues stage

House of Blues stage

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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