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Jim DeRogatis

Bid farewell to Shake Rattle & Read this weekend

For as long as I’ve lived in Chicago and covered the local rock scene, Uptown’s Shake Rattle & Read has been an invaluable resource: a one-of-a-kind bookstore specializing in great rock tomes and magazines, many of them impossible to find anywhere else, as well as posters, memorabilia, movies, vinyl, and CDs. But the best thing you’d find in the lovably grungy store on Broadway sandwiched between the legendary Green Mill and the faded but beautiful Uptown Theater was its gregarious and consistently fascinating owner and operator for the last 30 or so years

I for one cannot imagine the local music scene without Ric Addy, to say nothing of having been able to write my own stack of books about rock ’n’ roll without the ability to turn to him for that one missing piece of the puzzle, or just to get his perspective on the music I was struggling to chronicle or describe.

Now, not long after celebrating the store’s 50th anniversary, Addy is beginning the process of closing up shop, as has been justifiably well-covered in the blogosphere. Early in the new year, he told me he’s heading to Florida in a few months because he’s tired of the Chicago winters—on a day like yesterday, who can’t empathize?—and he certainly deserves the sunny retirement. But Uptown also has broken his heart. I’ve been hearing the “Uptown is coming up” line for the last 25 years, and the neighborhood still hasn’t arrived.

No one knows when or if the Uptown Theater will reopen or begin its extensive renovations. The mayor’s Uptown Music District is still just one of many unfulfilled promises. From the big Borders bookstore (which actually was good for his business, Addy says) to innumerable and varied mom-and-pops, businesses are struggling or closing down. And soon a massive construction project will close Lawrence for several years, killing what little is left of the pedestrian traffic.

Addy was as big a booster of Uptown for the last three decades as he was of the Chicago music scene. But he finally quit the neighborhood council, frustrated that no one really has the area’s best interests at heart, and revitalization may never amount to anything but talk.

In typical style, Addy will be going out with a bang: A massive four-day sale (50-percent off everything except new vinyl, which is discounted 25-percent) begins tomorrow and runs through Monday. And on Saturday, the music on the store’s million moldering pages will come to life, with special acoustic in-store performances by James Porter at 3 p.m., Addy’s band Iggy Yoakam and the Pogo Ponies at 4, and Gentleman John Battles at 5.

Stop by, bid farewell, leave Addy with a little more gas money, and join me and many others in saying thanks for everything, Ric. Chicago won’t be the same without you.

Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

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