The Compassionate Blues


Where does the nation’s heart still beat? Once upon a time, the thump-thump of compassion was not hard to hear. The footsteps of those who marched for justice and equal rights generated a powerful rhythm that was audible around the country.

Today that beat is a little softer, but the echoes can still be heard among the abandoned buildings, vacant lots and potholed streets of Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods. The nation’s heart was beating loudly the other night at Lee’s Unleaded Blues. Located at 75th Street and South South Chicago Avenue (the double south to indicate the direction of ‘South Chicago Avenue’), Lee’s is among the last of the city’s ‘juke joints.’ Seven nights a week, Lee’s hosts authentic Blues acts for a largely African American crowd. Everyone is welcome at Lee’s, though, and on many nights, you can see working class people along with college students and even a few downtown types. In a city infamous for its segregation and racial tension, Lee’s is a rare haven for those who long for a truly multicultural place to have a good time.

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