The Miyagi Records storefront presents a contrast between the peeling white-painted wood of the building and the slick sans-serif store logo on its large, spotless bay window.
Miyagi Records is so close to the Green Line that you can see the tracks just to the east in this photo. Credit: Courtesy Miyagi Records

On Friday, April 14, Miyagi Records opens its Washington Park brick-and-mortar shop at 307 E. Garfield. Miyagi has been in business since late 2019, when producer and DJ Nigel “Trew” Ridgeway launched it as an online-only shop. He’d been a record dealer on the side since 2002, and he wanted to do more—a choice the pandemic helped push along, since selling used vinyl was suddenly a more secure source of income than DJing. Ridgeway augmented the online store with a monthly Miyagi pop-up shop in a storage facility, for which customers had to reserve blocks of time online in advance. Rebuild Foundation founder Theaster Gates heard about the pop-ups and gave Miyagi the support to open a physical space in the Arts Block, a stretch of commercial and cultural spaces on Garfield between King Drive and Prairie that Rebuild has helped develop as part of a decade-long University of Chicago project.

Ridgeway will run Miyagi with producer Marco “Maker” Jacobo, who came aboard just before the idea of a storefront became a reality. Jacobo and Ridgeway got to know each other two decades ago at local hip-hop shows (in 2004, Jacobo released the first of several collaborations with Typical Cats MC Qwel) and on message boards for Galapagos4 and Soul Strut. They became roommates in the late 2000s, which furthered their creative collaborations; today they produce remixes as Altered Tapes and run the boutique label Heat Rock Records.

After starting conversations with Rebuild, Jacobo and Ridgeway first visited the site of what would be Miyagi Records in late 2022. “Once we decided to do it, it was rolling,” Jacobo says. The storefront had previously been home to Bing Art Books, and it already had some of the things Miyagi would need, including a sound system. Ridgeway and Jacobo announced the opening on the store’s Instagram account March 18. “Miyagi has been operating like a shop for years now,” Ridgeway says. “So now it’s just transplanting it to a proper space.”

Miyagi sells exclusively vinyl, and the owners say they have six or seven thousand used records in stock, with a spread of genres. “A little bit of everything,” Jacobo says. “Jazz, funk, soul, house, and disco.”

“The core will be genres that are endemic to this area,” Ridgeway says. “So Bronzeville back in the day: blues, soul, jazz.”

Miyagi will also have a small selection of new vinyl, chosen by South Rhodes Records founder Grant Crusor. In July 2021, Crusor and Ridgeway launched a sporadic record show called Chicago Vinyl Connection, the 17th iteration of which happens at Emporium’s Logan Square location on Sunday, April 16. 

Miyagi Records will host all-ages in-store performances throughout its opening weekend. Friday’s lineup features influential veteran the Twilite Tone, Trew and Maker in their Altered Tapes guise, Shazam Bangles, Rudy De Anda, and Hameedullah; their all-vinyl sets begin at 5 PM. Music starts at 1 PM on Saturday and Sunday; the selectors on Saturday are Jesse De La Peña, Sean Doe, Nosha Luv, Sonido del Wero, and DJ Rogue One, while Sunday’s program is a beat session that includes a plug-and-play “open mike” for producers. Regular store hours are 4-9 PM on Thursdays, noon-9 PM on Fridays, and 11 AM-7 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Vinyl bins being stocked at Miyagi Records Credit: Courtesy Miyagi Records

Bassist Wayne Montana and drummer Areif Sless-Kitain are one of the city’s most formidable rhythm sections, manifesting seriously heavy avant-dub grooves in the Eternals; they also play together in I Kong Kult, where Montana switches to guitar. Over the past few years, those groups have been relatively quiet, so Montana and Sless-Kitain (a former Reader staffer) have taken the opportunity to work up music for a new band called Radio Outernational, which also includes Eternals guitarist Aaron Shapiro and versatile woodwind players Nate Lepine and Hunter Diamond. Sless-Kitain says that Radio Outernational “is multidimensional, exploring psychedelic grooves, snaking Ethio-funk, and beyond.” They’ll make their live debut at the Hungry Brain on Friday, April 14, with drummer Quin Kirchner opening with a solo set. 

Chicagoans have had plenty of chances lately to hear V.V. Lightbody play her tender, atmospheric indie rock—the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist also known as Vivian McConnell has played in town frequently between tours. But in this wolf’s opinion, we haven’t heard nearly enough new studio material from her over the past few years—she’s only released one single since her stellar 2020 album, Make a Shrine or Burn It. Last week, though, McConnell dropped an outstanding new song, “Itinerary,” and she’ll perform at a sold-out show at Thalia Hall on Thursday, April 13, as part of a tour opening for Fruit Bats. 

Vivian McConnell jokes about “Itinerary” on Instagram: “I like the guitar solo that I played 100 times.”

On Friday, April 14, pedal-steel player Sam Wagster and drummer Skyler Rowe are dropping a new album as Mute Duo: Migrant Flocks arrives Friday, April 14, via pace-setting experimental label American Dreams. Wagster adds organ and drum programming to his pedal steel on Migrant Flocks, and Rowe augments his palatial percussion with piano and vibraphone; on early singles “Trust Lanes” and “Night Guides,” the interplay between the two musicians surges into intricate, propulsive, and luminously beautiful crescendos. Mute Duo celebrate the arrival of Migrant Flocks at the Empty Bottle on Thursday, April 13, with openers Helen Money and Ibises.

Mute Duo’s Migrant Flocks features guest spots from Emma Hospelhorn, Douglas McCombs, and Andrew Scott Young.

It’s hard to believe that workaholic garage-rock siblings Francis Scott White and Alex White have been playing together as White Mystery for 15 years. Feels like this brother-sister powerhouse dropped their self-titled debut just yesterday, but it turns out that was in 2010. Time flies when you’re a cartoon wolf! Anyway, White Mystery will celebrate with a blowout at House of Vans on Saturday, April 15. Fellow sibling band Neptune’s Core and rootsy indie rockers the Roof Dogs open; comedian Fred Armisen will emcee, and Jill Hopkins will DJ. The show starts at 7 PM, and it’s free with RSVP.

White Mystery subscribers on Bandcamp get access to live recordings and demos dating back to the band’s first year.

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