STAFF PICK: Is there, in this fair land of many music stores, a crazier place than our own Chicago Store? Pray thee not. The first impression is that of some crowded, cacophonous third-world souk, crammed to the gunwales with every musical noisemaker ever invented. Violas, trombones, bajo sextos, guitars the guys in Sonic Youth dream about, accordions, drum kits and pedal steels, all piled in apparently random and scarcely controlled mayhem. Call it music retail imitating chaos theory. And that's just the main floor! God knows what treasures, artifacts, mummifications, relics and archaeological wonders survive in the basement or on the second floor. Remarkably, Joe knows every last instrument and what he paid for it 40-plus years ago. It's all for "sale," more or less, though bargaining sessions with Joe can take on epic proportions. Players from all over the map have heard of the place. As David Midalgo of Los Lobos once memorably quipped, "You all know the Chicago Store, right? Ever buy anything at the Chicago Store?"
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