Stepping into The Blues Kitchen, the wise words of soul godfather Bobby Byrd ‘I know you got soul, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be in here’ ring true.
The venue is a portal to downtown Chicago, complete with murals of iconic soul greats adorning its walls – immersing you in the splendour of a 1960s hideaway. In the year that it’s been open in the city, it has become the new home to soul, complete with a live house band and one of the best club nights currently hosted in Manchester.
At whatever time of day you peer your head in, you’ll find people scattered around the venue, cocktails in hand or enjoying a menu of eclectic BBQ food, alongside a live soundtrack of soul classics.
Liam Hart, one of the venue founders, explained why they chose Manchester as The Blues Kitchen’s newest destination: “We really wanted to be part of the Manchester music scene, so we were over the moon when we stumbled upon this incredible venue a couple of years ago.
“We’ve all been huge fans of the city’s musical cultural heritage for years, so it felt right to open a Blues Kitchen here. I grew up in the 90s listening to music from Manchester, so I’ve always had a real love for the city.”
With the venue sitting right in the middle of a laid back jazz bar vibe and fully-fledged party destination, The Blues Kitchen is primarily focused on live music, which guests can get a glimpse of almost every day of the week.
Most notably, the venue’s Manchester’s Got Soul nights are a big focus. Every single Friday, you’ll find DJs spinning timeless soul and rhythm and blues classics across both floors until the early hours.
The Blues Kitchen’s legendary house band also takes to the stage every Friday for three outstanding live sets of classic funk, soul and rock n roll – playing homage to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder and The Rolling Stones. The bar’s happy hour is in full swing from 5pm – 7pm, too, and, with the largest bourbon selection in the city, you can guarantee you’ll be supping some finely crafted cocktails.
“We really wanted to hone in on the 1960s culture of Motown, Stax and Atlantic records, where the studio musicians would work with The Supremes, Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin. The idea of having a resident band totally comes from that era,” furthered Liam.
“I think that’s what sets us apart from other places in the city centre. As much as our wonderful DJs play an integral role in our events and club nights, we want to keep the soul torch alive and our live house band just take things to the next level. People have been dancing to live soul music and R&B for years, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.”
It’s not difficult to see what draws people back to the space time and time again. With the venue’s BBQ restaurant, well-stocked bar and calendar of non-stop music, alongside appearances from legendary and modern-day soul, disco and funk greats.
This Wednesday, the venue will host none other than funk and soul genius, Roy Ayers. The 81-year-old jazz legend pioneered the jazz-funk period of the 70s, which saw him release outstanding, soulful tunes including the timeless classic, ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine‘, and, with a career spanning 6 whole decades, his music is still worshipped worldwide.
Supporting Roy Ayers is Manchester’s Soulful Romantics, Lovescene, who have made quite the name for themselves recently, after the release of new album, ‘LOVESCENE’. Known for their blend of deeply evocative vocals soaring over smoky background scores, low-slung R&B and Neo-soul soaked in jazz – the band will fit right into The Blues Kitchen’s live-led, downtown US aesthetic.
Also coming up in the venue’s roster of incredible acts is Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Grammy award-winning Cedric Burnside and husband and wife blues and roots duo, The War and Treaty. Another award-winning act, the pair won the emerging artist award at this year’s Americana Awards in Nashville.
Evelyn Champagne King will also be making an appearance at The Blues Kitchen this July! The voice behind tracks such as ‘Love Come Down’ and ‘I’m in Love’, she was a true pioneer of the early disco scene of the 70s. Now in her 60s, her voice has far from dwindled, and she’ll be performing a stellar show at The Blues Kitchen on Thursday 28th July.
“It’s been heartwarming seeing all the love and appreciation we’ve had from the city since we arrived last year,” concluded Liam.
“It’s so refreshing and I think it’s an ode to the people of Manchester. We’re really looking forward to continuing to bring a great line-up of acts to the city, alongside our incredible club night, which I think has become an integral part of the city’s nightlife scene.”
The Blues Kitchen is not just a destination to dine and drink, it’s a place that transports you to the dance floor of 1960s Chicago, where music was the beating heart of the community. The venue carries the same ethos, and is set to be an integral part of the city’s musical landscape for years to come.