About Chicago Slim

Blues is my Religion

Who is Chicago Slim?

When he is not on stage, Chicago Blues All-Stars frontman Daniel “Chicago Slim” Ivankovich is an orthopedic trauma and spine surgeon who covers some of the roughest neighborhoods in the Windy City and also gets called from all over the world as a first-responder.

What is Chicago Slim's background?

I was born in Zagreb, Croatia (the former Yugoslavia)  to immigrant physician parents. My family defected  and moved to Chicago in 1968, eventually settling in the Chicago North Shore suburb Glenview.

How did the Blues get a hold of Chicago Slim?

As a teenager, I never considered music to be a long-term option for me. I was an All-State and All-American basketball player with a lot of promise and pro potential. After I hurt my knee and basketball got ripped away from my life, it left a big hole that I was able to fill with Blues music. The music touched me to my core, because it reflected what I was feeling after my loss. 

Did Chicago Slim have a career in radio?

Yes, I did. From 1981 to 1987, between undergrad and medical school, I worked as a radio announcer, production engineer, and graduate advisor at WNUR-FM in Evanston. I produced several shows at the CMJ-awarded station, most notably as host (under the moniker The Right Reverend, Doctor D) of Out of the Blue, which featured Chicago blues music, live performances and interviews. The all-night show was picked up by KOST Broadcasting for syndication and ran in over 60 markets across the country from 1985 to 1987.[ Later I worked as an announcer and producer for WCKG, the top-rated rock music station in the Chicago market

Is it true that you treat patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay

It’s true. OnePatient does not turn away patients, and treats patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Why did you decide to help patients so generously?

While working at Cook County Hospital and after 20 years as a doctor, I observed patients being ignored and waiting months or even years for surgeries and had difficulty getting basic orthopedic services, while their injuries worsened.

One day while treating a 48-year-old woman with knee arthritis, I realized that fixing her knees would not fix her poverty issues, and I had the idea to start a clinic that would help bring the patient “from disability to functionality.” In 2009, my now-wife Karla Carwile Ivankovich and I founded the Chicago-based nonprofit OnePatient Global Health Initiative, with a mission to treat patients from all over Illinois who have musculoskeletal health disorders, regardless of their ability to pay and without prejudice.

You have spearheaded many initiatives to help those in need. What is your latest project?

We are collaborating with Fernando Jones and Blues Kids to bring blues to Chicago public schools and expose children to the blues.  It’s very important that the circle of life continues to flow through our youth. It’s the only way to perpetuate the stories and music. For me, I believe that music can be a vehicle to develop inquisitive young minds and teach about healthy lifestyles.

We also help uninsured or underinsured musicians get access to healthcare.

One of the common threads that I’ve seen over the past 30 years in Chicago has been that Blues musicians lead challenging lives. They don’t always take care of themselves and health care isn’t always accessible when they need it most.
I made a commitment a long time ago that I was going to do something for the Blues in the name of my musical mentors, Eddie Taylor Sr., who passed far too early from complications that arose from untreated diabetes.

Where can I find out more about your work?

You can find out more about Chicago Blues All-Stars at our website. You can help us raise money for healthcare and school programs by contributing at Chicago Blues Society.  You can read more about me on the Home Page right here. 

You can read about my efforts in helping the underserved community with medical assistance and care from an article that appeared in Blues Matters. 

This article from American Blues Scene is about my nomination for CNN hero of the year for my efforts in bringing healthcare to ‘Chicago’s Mean Streets’.

Do you play in a band?

Yes, I play with the Chicago Blues All-Stars

Can I hear your music?

Sure can.