Things sure have been grooving around here this week. (Friendly reminder to turn your radio dials to KUOW 94.9FM for the live streaming Wheedle’s Groove session going down with host Steve Scher today from 9-10am). It only made sense to have this week’s Record Store of the Week go to Dusty Groove America in Chicago, IL. Dusty Groove’s all around nice guy/ big boss man Rick Wojcik talked to us about his little oasis of funky, worldly and otherworldly musical delights.
Can you tell the world a little bit about Dusty Groove?
We’re mostly a jazz/funk/soul specialty store — with a strong focus on material from the 50s to the 80s — but we also carry a fair bit of unusual African, Latin, and Brazilian bits — as well as a very groovy collection of soundtracks, vocals, and other loungey bits — plus a smattering of important contemporary work from the Neo Soul underground, the global groove scene, and assorted hip hoppers. We sell mountains of vinyl every week — usually adding a few hundred titles to the store/website every single day — but we also have a strong CD selection as well — particularly towards the more unusual side of the spectrum you won’t find in your average record store. Since we’re not primarily a rock store, like most other indies, we’ve got a different focus that really makes for a dynamic mix of music.
We’ve been open since early 1996 — first online, as a website only at www.dustygroove.com — then as a bricks and mortar retailer, at our present location at 1120 N Ashland Ave, in Chicago. The website’s still our flagship business, but the local store is very important too — and we really like the mix of customer viewpoints we get from having both at the same time.
How many people work for Dusty Groove?
About two dozen.
What kind of folks frequent your store, and what sort of records do they typically buy?
That’s very hard to say, as we’ve got a pretty diverse customer base — I’m not sure it’s possible to nail down a specific customer type. We’re pretty open to just about anyone, and we hope we’ve got something to offer any customer looking for unusual music.
What’s your favorite record right now?
Man, that’s hard to say — almost impossible, really.
What record do you always find yourself listening to in the store?
Same here — it’s not like we play the same record all the time in the store. We’re always looking for new music we’ve never heard before.
What is your favorite Light in the Attic release and why?
Boy, I think we’d be doing LITA an injustice if we were to focus our love on just one record. The label’s done so much great stuff, in so many great genres, that it’s really hard to just pick one. They’re all pretty damn great — and our customers think so too. (Editors note: Did someone say “blush”?)
Do you do instore performances?
Well, we’ve tried instores before — but oddly, they’re usually dismal failures. There’s something about us — maybe we’re not cool enough — that whenever we’ve tried to do a performance in the store, we usually end up with less customers present than if we didn’t have a show. Must be a curse, or something like that.
What’s the funniest/weirdest/strangest encounter you’ve had with a customer in the store?
I’m not sure I can think of any funny or weird encounters — most of the folks who walk through our doors are usually pretty great folks — easy to deal with, and driven by a love of unusual music — so we don’t really get too many oddball experiences in the store.
What is the coolest/most prized record has come into your store that you never thought you’d ever see?
That’s tough to say. We’re usually just pretty happy that we get all the records we get — rare and common, expensive and cheap — as it’s a continual flow of records that keeps us, and our customers happy.
What do you love most about working at a cool independent record shop?
Getting to listen to good music every day of the week! I can’t think of a better job for keeping my ears happy — as a store like this is always a place to discover something new and unusual.
Dusty Groove America
1120 N. Ashland
Chicago, IL, 60622
Daily (M-Su) 10am-8pm