It's been nearly 25 years since Michael Schmelling has lived near Chicago, but judging by his photos, you'd never guess he left. In Your Blues, a new solo exhib at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the River Forest-raised photographer captures the nooks and crannies of Chicago's music scene, including several portraits of now-defunct DIY house Animal Kingdom. 

"I left River Forest when I was 17," says Schmelling of the project's inspiration. "I wanted to reconnect with that piece of my youth. [So] I started going to record stores, looking at flyers, and looking for out-of-the-way venues. It happened very organically."

Over the last 18 months, Schmelling worked on the city's fringe where he could often be found snapping photos until the early morning hours. To get a sense of his search for Chicago's indie spark, I asked Schmelling to walk me through five of his favorite shots from Your Blues.

Go: Your Blues runs through December 21 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan.