Chicago's Famed Dusty Groove Record Store Celebrated with New Documentary

Watch a trailer for 'Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition'

BY Brock ThiessenPublished May 8, 2019

While the world of record stores and vinyl has been explored in film more than a few times, a new documentary focusing on Chicago's beloved Dusty Groove aims to shine a new light on the subject.

Titled Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition, the upcoming movie will focus not only on music and records but also follow the stories of customers selling their once-prized collections as they face major life transitions.

For the unfamiliar, Dusty Groove was founded in 1996 by Rick Wojcik and JP Schauer first as an online-only record store before soon emerging as a brick-and-mortar retail storefront in Chicago. Fast-forward to 2019, and Dusty Groove stands as one of the world's most knowledgeable and vast music retail hubs — both IRL and online — shining a light on new music, as well as the deep treasure troves of jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, soundtracks, library music and other obscurities.

Directed by Danielle Beverly, Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition will get its world premiere on June 8 at the San Francisco Indiefest. But right now, you can watch a newly revealed trailer down below.

The film synopsis describes the project like this: "In Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition, vinyl buyer Rick Wojcik walks us into the homes — and stories — of strangers, digging through their jazz, soul, and hip hop records, purchasing their once-prized possessions. Each seller shares a common reason: they face a major life transition. A collection of intimate narratives, akin to a record album of songs. About love, loss, and our deep personal connection to music."

In the store's mailout today, Dusty Groove itself had a whole lot more to say about the film, explaining that the project has been long in the works. Dusty Groove also assures us, "This isn't one of those 'vinyl is all warm and fuzzy' or 'people who like records are really cool' sorts of movies."

The film's been years in the making, and the director really took her time to get things right — following a few key stories of customers selling their records, with just the right amount of focus on the way that music has shaped their lives. We were first approached about the project a long time ago, and wanted to be sure that the film was not about Dusty Groove — so much as it was about the people who've taught us so much about music over the years, the folks who've shared their lives and loves with us — and really helped broaden our understanding of music. From the time we started the shop, we've always been as inspired by the people who love the music as much as the people who make it — and individuals and audiences have taught us so much more about music than we ever would have learned ourselves — so much so, that we know our lives would have been a lot less rich without them.

This isn't one of those "vinyl is all warm and fuzzy" or "people who like records are really cool" sorts of movies — as it's more about the longer, deeper relationship that records play in people's lives — especially from the Chicago perspective that we feel honored to be a part of. One key focus of the film is on an overlooked jazz musician in the city — alto saxophonist Grady Johnson, also one of the city's first African-American pharmacists — and there's also a key chapter in the life of one of the most important hip hop DJs in Chicago, a figure who helped give early space to later stars like Common and Kanye. But even without these semi-stars, the film does a great job of getting at the complexity of the world of records — where they flow, where they hide, and how their re-circulation on the planet really helps encourage an ongoing cultural dialogue. There's plenty of footage of the store and the staff, too — but they're less the stars of the film than the backdrop — and we're really proud to have been a part of this project, to help shed just a bit of light on the world in which we've been so happy to live for so many years.

Down below, watch the trailer for Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition, and stay up to date on the film either on Facebook or Twitter.

Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition - documentary official trailer from Danielle Beverly on Vimeo.

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