Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Groove Store on 55th

posted by chicago pop

Since it was a swamp, only little more than a century ago, Hyde Park has gone on to host many things which might strike a casual visitor as unlikely: over there, they more or less invented the atomic bomb; across the way, major strides are occurring in the translation of Demotic Egyptian, Hittite, and Assyrian; while over on 55th, next to a couple of hair salons, is --- the new vinyl store. The ending of the previous sentence is not meant to be deflationary, or at least, it will only sound that way to the unenlightened, which is what I was only week ago. Because Chicago -- and Hyde Park -- are world centers in the trade of old vinyl LPs.

Hence, Groove Store. There is a reason it's here.

You can get the skinny on Groove Store from an excellent piece in Chicago Weekly. The store's owner, a Frenchman, started shopping for vinyl in Chicago back in the 90s, around the time Chicago's Mecca for vinyl enthusiasts, Dusty Groove, first opened. Alexis Bouteville seems to have been part of the same trend, and opened the first Groove Store back in France.

“I’ve been coming to Chicago almost 20 years to buy records,” Bouteville says. It was shortly after his first trip in the early ’90s that he opened the first Groove Store in Paris. “In France nobody wants to buy CDs, everybody’s downloading,” Bouteville observes, and the Groove Store there sells vinyl almost exclusively. The new Hyde Park shop is the stateside extension of the Paris location.

Groove Store's Paris Location

Perhaps it's Hyde Park's ambiance as a cultural attic, where things generally forgotten elsewhere (like Demotic Egyptian, Hittite, and Assyrian, or change ringing) are kept track of and cultivated in proud defiance of prevailing trends. The neighborhood itself is a bit of an improbable relic, a geographical reality which seems to have infused the aesthetics of the U of C undergrads who, after working at campus radio station WHPK, went on to found Dusty Groove back in 1996. And Chicago's vast South Side musical heritage provides aficionados with almost as much research material as the tablets and shards at the Oriental Institute.

Rolling Stone describes Dusty Groove thusly: "Funk, soul, African, Brazilian, Latin, hip-hop, jazz, and disco are the specialties of this Chicago powerhouse — easily the finest shop of its kind in the United States." And its concept was born in Hyde Park. Add to that the local legacy of Dr. Wax, the ongoing concern of Hyde Park Records, and Groove Store seems much less of an oddity and much more of a new chapter in a vinyl tradition with deep roots, and continuing vitality, in Hyde Park and the South Side.

The Groove Store
1703 E. 55th. Street
Monday-Saturday, 11am-8pm
Sunday noon-6pm
(773) 938-0073

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