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Feature Thu Mar 08 2007
Here's a couple of record shops to add to your list of great places to visit for a wide variety of musical tastes. The first, George's Music Room, not only has been operating for nearly 40 years, but has a second location in Midway Airport that you may have missed each time you're looking to kill some time before a flight. The second shop, Permanent Records, isn't even a year old yet, but already has a ton of fans and some great plans in the works for some stellar community involvement. Read on, learn, and head on out there!
Name: George's Music Room
Location(s): 3915 W. Roosevelt Road and Midway Airport, Concourse A
Hours: 9am-9pm, 7 days a week
Website URL: http://www.myspace.com/georgesmusicroom
First opened: 1968
Approx. Size (sq. feet) : 1400
Owner/Operator: George Daniels
Types of music sold (genre): Hip-hop, R&B, soul, blues, gospel.
Types of music sold (format): Cassettes, vinyl, CDs
Buys/Sells used cds/tapes/albums?: No buying or selling of used music.
Pilgrimages are for those places off the beaten path, where it is possible to go get something rare and highly desired. George's Music Room, located in Lawndale at 3915 West Roosevelt Road (as well as in Midway Airport), is the kind of place where one could make such a journey.
The store's decor consists of an impressive collection of gold and platinum record plaques from the artists who've come by the store during its 39-year existence. Pictures of the proprietor with various music world luminaries as varied as B.B. King, Janet Jackson, and Pharrell radiate from behind display glass. Posters for upcoming releases adorn the walls, and free standing displays of artists in various poses litter the floor space. There are no racks, so the floor space saved mostly goes towards a large table with various flyers, pluggers, newsletters ("Obama: The New Face of Hip-Hop!") and sexual awareness pamphlets ("Have Responsible Sex").
The main thrust of the store is the counter, which runs along the side of the store and is about 40 feet long. Much like a jewelers case, the musical selection goes from hip-hop to oratory and a bit of every black musical genre in between. The musical selection tends towards the old school. They seem to be a store aimed at the music connoisseur that knows what they want. Music-wise, there are CDs, cassettes, and vinyl available, although they differ in availability. Most of the store's inventory is at the counter as compact disc form. A few releases, most notably gospel, are in cassette form. Vinyl-wise, there won't be much for an acetate junkie to look forward to. The selection is rather thin, as it's mostly current-era rhythm and blues and rap albums, not much for the crate-diggers who want to find an obscure sample.
If you want to stand and pore over the glass at the counter, you'll see an amazing variety of music encased therein. Doo wop collections, the latest hip-hop releases and recordings of Malcolm X speeches are in the same case with noted gospel matriarchs, R&B standard-bearers, and blues classics. Prices are a bit on the high end. A single CD of anything hip-hop-related and recent is normally $16, with some classic R&B albums run $16.99 or so. Eminem's Curtain Call album is $19.99, next to a 8 MileDVD that costs the same price.
Music isn't the only thing for sale here. There is a rather large Collection of DVDs available, as well as a cottage industry in accessories of all kinds. Incense, fragrance oils, CD storage cases, a few selected book titles, and posters.
This is not a store to browse, really. No racks to pore over, but they take great pride in being able to order what they don't have in stock and to offer a listen to something a customer takes an interest in. This is really more of a beacon for the community, where the who's-who of R&B and rap come to pay respect to a man who set up shop on the West Side.
Name: Permanent Records
Location: 1914 W. Chicago Ave.
Hours: Sun-Thu: 11-8pm, Fri-Sat: 11-9pm
Website URL: www.permanentrecordschicago.com or http://www.myspace.com/permanentwax
First opened: October 2006
Approx. Size (sq. feet): 1400
Owner/Operator: Lance Barresi and Liz Tooley
Types of music sold (genre): "A touch of everything" — a strong pile of gems as well as new releases from most indie labels.
Types of music sold (format): CD and Vinyl, with some tape sets.
Buys/Sells used cds/tapes/albums?: Yes Yes Yes! No appointments needed. They also offer consignment for local bands.
Zaireeka the cat is one of the first things you're going to notice about Permanent Records when you walk in. If it's morning or midday, the five-month old kitty will be going wild about the store — knocking pens off the counter, chasing her tail in the sun, or pouncing upon customers with the friendliness usually only seen in dogs. However, come afternoon, Zaireeka will retire to her favorite spot — an empty CD shipper on the counter that fits her like a glove.
While Z will provide ample entertainment for all who enter, don't let her distract you from the store itself: it's got an excellent selection of media diversions for you as well. In addition to well-stocked racks of vinyl and CDs, Permanent also has a respectable used movie selection, recently boosted by the purchase of a personal collection focusing on obscure horror.
Ultimately, Lance and Liz (who co-own the shop) want Permanent Records to be "a community space". The shop has a performance space in the back — bands have been playing in-stores for a while now, with Times New Viking coming up on March 9th (keep an eye out in Transmission for details). They also own a projector, so some movie screenings are being planned. In the front of the shop, — under a secretive covering, lies a mural being painted by a local artist friend — when completed, they hope to have an unveiling party. With the various multimedia offerings they already have scheduled, Permanent Records looks to be well on its way to building that community.