Erin Coburn delivers electric blues-rock performances in Chicago clubs


Photo courtesy of Rosa’s Lounge

Erin Coburn. The blues artist performed at Rosa’s Lounge on Oct. 1.

Jack Austin, Reporter

One of the youngest blues rock players in today’s scene, Erin Coburn is making a name for herself as a guitar virtuoso by playing classic Chicago blues clubs. 

Coburn performed multiple times at Buddy Guy’s Legends before COVID-19 and livestreamed concerts at Rosa’s Lounge during the pandemic. She returned to Rosas’s in early October, this time playing an intimate set to a live crowd. 

Chicago resident Jim Doyle, who found Coburn on Facebook, said he admires how she’s a natural performer. 

“Her stage presence and the way she commands the band is just amazing,” said Doyle, who has seen her Facebook livestreams and performances at Buddy Guy’s. 

According to Doyle, young blues players face a demographic challenge. Blues fans tend to be older. Doyle said Coburn, who started as a bluegrass player and has eclectic influences, also pushes toward rock in her original songs. 

The blues gave birth to most modern forms of music, Coburn said. Blues as a genre emerged as a way for Black Americans to share stories of pain and resilience in the context of slavery and racism in the early 20th century. Black men in the South and in Northern cities, especially Chicago, have long led the industry. 

Coburn said the blues will always remain a part of her music. She also believes the blues is alive and will continue to evolve. 

“The blues is a feeling, not a chord progression,” Coburn said. “We can play Nirvana songs, but it is still blues because of the feeling we are putting into it. The blues brings us all down to this mutual understanding of feelings and emotions that are so raw.” 

Tony Mangiullo, the owner and manager of Rosa’s Lounge in Chicago, praised Coburn’s musicianship, specifically how she incorporates multiple styles and genres. 

“She intermingles everything together, just like a cocktail,” Mangiullo said. “It’s just amazing to me the level of creativity and natural showmanship. There is no comparison (to the other acts that come to Rosa’s).”

Rosa’s features the blues along a wide spectrum, Mangiullo said. Coburn shifts among genres but leans toward the rock side. Mangiullo, who has hosted musicians pushing the envelope of the blues for 38 years, said he would welcome Coburn back “anytime.” 

Doyle said Coburn is very kind to her fans, calling her a “sweetheart” that will always stay to sign autographs. 

Coburn began playing guitar at two and got her first professional gig at age 12. When she heard a teacher playing the blues, she instantly wanted to learn. Coburn said the blues’ power lies in its simplicity. 

“No guitar solo is the same. When I am playing guitar onstage, it is from whatever I am feeling at that moment. You have a whole conversation with the audience,” Coburn said. “It is so powerful. You can say so much with so little.” 

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Twitter: @JackAustinNews

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