Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri August 26 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | August 26, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Top 4 Chicago Reggae Hotspots

    Top 4 Chicago Reggae Hotspots

    PHOTO: Julian and Stephen Marley performing at The Wild Hare. (photo courtesy of The WIld Hare)

    Chicago may be famous for blues and jazz, but this multifaceted city serves up lots of other genres, including reggae. No, the city doesn’t have the palm trees and salty breezes to accompany the cool rhythms, but we do have the musicians, the laidback vibe and all the Red Stripe you can drink. Whether you like to sway to the easy melodies of Lovers Rock or you prefer the driving beats of Dancehall, Chicago has got you covered. Although many bars include reggae in their regular music mix, these are the places to go to experience the city’s small reggae scene in the flesh.

    The Wild Hare

    An iconic club that helped established Chicago’s reggae scene 30 years ago, The Wild Hare and Singing Armadillo Frog Sanctuary is the ultimate place to hear live reggae. This is the place where Nina and Darius danced seductively in the classic movie, “Love Jones” and it’s also where a lot of touring Jamaican bands perform when they visit the city. Although this isn’t the original, slightly grungy Wrigleyville spot, the new Lincoln Park location has upped the game with an extensive food menu (jerk chicken, red snapper escovitch, oxtails) and a roomier space. The Wild Hare is the go-to spot for major reggae acts including the Marleys, Morgan Heritage and Beres Hammond, as well as local players like Gizzae and Devon Brown.

    READ MORE: Classic Chicago Eats: The Silver Palm

    Exedus II

    This dimly lit dive bar is a fave of the local Caribbean community. Exedus II features DJs and bands that deliver hard driving dancehall rhythms and cheap drinks. A Wrigleyville highlight for over 30 years, this bar is not for the casual reggae fan but for culture aficionados familiar with reggae traditions like “wine up” dancing. The bar doesn’t typically start jumping until midnight so it’s a great place to end the night.

    Mr. Brown’s Lounge

    With a name snatched from a Bob Marley tune, you can expect great music and authentic food at Mr. Brown’s Lounge. This lounge and restaurant features well-prepared Jamaican dishes and reggae classics in two locations. The West Town spot offers up a charming neighborhood eatery and the weekly music events Real Vibes Friday for an explosive mix of roots reggae, dancehall, hip hop and soca by reining local DJ Boom Bostic and Extreme Caribbean Nights on Saturdays for the latest hits.

    At the Loop location next to the Hard Rock Hotel, grab a plate of brown stew chicken and take in Live Reggae Thursdays or Lush Fridays for reggae, soca, afrobeat and reggaeton spins. And if you can’t make it for the events, both locations keep a steady soundtrack of old school reggae playing for diners.

    READ MORE: Chicago’s 4 Best Food Tours


    This Wicker Park mainstay just debuted an annual reggae fest but for a weekly dose of hits, you can’t beat Subterranean's legendary Reggae Gold dance parties. This basement bar serves up a diverse selection of music every night but Thursdays are when it’s all about slinky rhythms. Head downstairs and DJ Papa G plays non-stop reggae enjoyment.

More Chicago


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
Journey on an Avalon River Cruise

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships