Roots Salon ~ History, Mission & Services

Roots Salon the Finale, Summer-fare,
June 20 read more


Roots_Member_Night_Postcard (1)

An Arts Incubator & Artist Gathering Space
in Lincoln Square, Chicago
Art, Music, Readings, Conversation, listening, Lessons, Community
See the blog for each event.
Join the Roots Membership: member page.
Read the Roots Artist Round-Up


Roots presents

Concerts, Showcases & Soirees
Poetry Readings & Author Readings
Art Exhibitions & Artist Talks
Master Speakers & Artisan Workshops
Member Events & Meetings
RootsFest, outdoor festival
Caroling at Christmas









The Roots Salon continues the century-old salon tradition of the O’Reilly clan, artists, activists and intellectuals in Chicago.  The Salon began in 2006 with a performance series hosted by Jamie and brother Beau, answering the need of Chicago artists seeking an intimate venue. Located in Jamie’s private residence, events at Roots are word-of-mouth happenings that present music, visual art, poetry and theater, with caroling at Christmas, a monthly Women’s Salon and the RootsFest in August.

Peter Swenson, Jamie

Jamie O’Reilly is an arts producer, consultant, singer, and teaching artist with a 40 year history as an arts activist.  With the Salon as office, Jamie and her coaching clients develop creative projects in one-on-one sessions. She teaches singing lessons (see Singing page), and is Salonniere and programmer for the Roots Salons.

The Roots “House” Bands are The Jamie O’Reilly Trio with Jamie on vocals and guitarists Michael Smith and Peter Swenson. Upstairs in the music room Midnight Moxie, the doo-op rock band made-up of Sarah Chang, Meg and Nia O’Reilly Amandes rehearse original material they perform in area clubs and festivals.

How did Roots Salon come about?

In the early 1990s, Jamie found cache of old letters and artifacts in a family archive housed at the University of Illinois Library. She was doing research for  “A Season and A Time”,  a program she and then husband Tom Amandes created for the series “1890s, A City Comes of Age”, at the Chicago Historical Society.

The O’Reillys, a vivacious clan of Bohemians, were newspapermen,  writers, poets, activists, musicians and theater-folk.  They came to Chicago at the end of the 19th century by way of Joliet, Il. Along with many first generation Irish immigrants, Grandfather James helped build the Illinois-Michigan Canal in Lockport, IL.

Grandfather James, an electrician, had two sisters: Mame and Nell.  They were labor union organizers. Mame was a teacher. Nell was a a dancer and a poet and one of the first students of the School of the Art Institute. Nell married Irwin St. John (“Friar Tuck”) Tucker,  a newspaper man, in 1909. Tuck and Nell were pacifists. Tuck was a close friend of Studs Terkel, appearing on his radio show many times.

Tex and Nell

Uncle ‘Tex”, Edward O’Reilly,  a newspaper man, rodeo rider and mercenary soldier, was the subject of Lowell Thomas’s biography. ‘The Greatest Living Soldier of Fortune”.  Imagine the political discussions around the O’Reilly table!

Roots Early Timeline

1910s-30s. The O’Reillys hosted late night soirees in the family home on Evergreen Street in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Political refugees (Fenians hiding out, Russians fleeing the Czar) spouted politics, and colorful characters recited poetry, played music, drank wine, and shared stories of “the four heavens and the fours hells.”

Dan Tucker

1940s – 2010  Tuck and Nell brought the soirees to their Rogers Park Home. Their son Dan, (dear “uncle”, guiding light of Jamie’s musical life) and his wife Margaret hosted “musicales” at their home in Evanston until he passed away in 2010.


Roots Salon Leavitt Street Timeline

RootsFest 2010

-2006 Jamie creates Roots Salon in her 100 yr old home

-2006/07  Rhino Theater Festival uses Roots as host-site

-2009 RootsFest,  annual music fest, is started

-2011 The Women’s Salon: Community of Voices is begun

-2012 Roots & the Women’s Salon produce “What Will the Neighbors Say”, art installation in Winnemac Park, with the Chicago Park District for Chicago Artist Month

Spring. New kitchen is designed to accommodate Salons
Summer. Roots Thrive Series and member card initiative is launched
Fall. Master Speaker series started. Winter Ancestor Series launched.
2014 Collaboration with St John’s Episcopal Church, HotHouse at Lakeside, MI
2015 Winter-Rising: Snowbound Artist Diaries



Women’s Salon Community of Voices

They offer her fragments of story
to take home to the other side,
stories already cut into pieces,
ripped down the middle,
large parts condoned off with razor-wire.
(from Working on The Border, Maureen Flannery)

The Women’s Salon is a group of writers from a broad spectrum of life experiences sharing conversation: Maureen Connolly, Maureen Flannery, Catherine Gallogly, Kristin Lems, Loretta Line, Anne Schultz. Mary Watson  and Jamie O’Reilly, Salonniere.  Save the dates for End of Liofe/Afterlife, October 24, 25 and 27, 2014 at St. John’s Episcopal Church.


Be a Member. See Roots Thrive membership page


Hosting the Roots Salon is an appropriate mission for
a cultural artist with a lifelong love of art & music!

Download Jamie’s brochure

Read more about Jamie throughout this site.
Artist & Project Development


Contact Jamie, 773-203-7661