When you bring all-vinyl DJs and local food vendors together, "sampling" takes on a whole new meaning. This summer, 58th and Halsted will be the best place in the city for vinyl aficionados to come together and pore through crates of records, all while eating delicious local food, dancing to music from esteemed local DJs and learning about exciting community initiatives.
Vinyl and Vittles—a new record fair and food market collective from event producer Erik Jones of Sound Voyage, DJ Mr. Jaytoo and the community organization Grow Greater Englewood—will take over the Englewood Village Plaza every third Sunday of the month June through October this year. The event will feature local record vendors sharing their wares, delicious local food, live music from a curated lineup of DJs and more fun for the whole family.
“Music is and always has been the ultimate icebreaker,” Jaytoo says. “It just seemed very elementary to base some gatherings around music.”
Tanya Ward, a cultural steward with Grow Greater Englewood, says the event is part of a larger effort to create a vibe and a destination at the Plaza. “We hope to make this space live in the summer," she says. "We shouldn’t have to drive and wait in traffic to be in community."
Grow Greater Englewood has been working to activate the plaza space at 58th and Halsted for years, with initiatives including the popular, music-filled Englewood Village Farmers Market and the proposed Englewood Nature Trail, a two-mile linear park connecting the neighborhood’s urban farms and gardens. Jones serves as the music curator for the farmers market, and began having conversations with Grow Greater Englewood’s lead steward, Anton Seals Jr., about bringing what would become Vinyl and Vittles to life.
“We’re building it out so that someone doesn’t just think, ‘Well, I don’t record collect, so why should I be there?’” Jones says. “We want to have DJs who can read the room. We want there to be flow where you’re outdoors. The nature trail is there and you’re talking to people about the programs that are coming up, not for them to just drive down Halsted and see just vacant lots. No, there’s some amazing planning that Grow Greater and other organizations are doing.”
Music is and always has been the ultimate icebreaker.
Seals says there’s a deep love and appreciation for music in Englewood, and Vinyl and Vittles is an opportunity to celebrate the best of Black music and culture in a way that is for the community rather than extracted from it, and to integrate the music with what Grow Greater is doing around local food and public space.
“Black culture in Chicago created a lot of global culture, period, so that’s where a lot of the stories are being held by a lot of people that will come—the blues scene, the soul scene, not just the singers but all the players, the producers, behind-the-scenes, the arrangers,” Seals says. “That’s our thing as Chicagoans. We birthed rock and roll, so that history is what we want to capture, and it gives us space to have a conversation.”
Jaytoo says it’s important for the music to make an intergenerational crowd feel welcome and engaged, and takes that into consideration when curating a community event where grandparents and grandkids can both have fun.
“I want to open people’s eyes to new old stuff and new-new stuff as well, and then from that part, you have to get the right people in place, who understand we’re in the middle of Englewood on a Sunday afternoon,” Jaytoo says. “You can’t treat that Sunday market like a Friday night at midnight. We may have young people, old people, so it’s important to consider your potential audience, and have people I know who can read the room.”
The event gives people who are not already a part of vinyl culture an opportunity to peek into it. “I am excited because I grew up in that part of Englewood and I’m a vinyl lover,” Ward says. “I still go back to CDs. Having something like this in the place I grew up and having a part in making it dope, there’s nothing better than that.”
For the first Vinyl and Vittles of the season on June 5, Erik, Jay and their team have curated an exciting music lineup of veteran DJs, including DJ I.N.C., Mikey Mike and DJ Erica Kane, while vendors include Pilsen-based Shady Rest Vintage & Vinyl. Park Manor-based Doughboys will be serving comfort food, and guests can sample local beers from Moor’s Brewing Company in between dancing and browsing the crates of records.
“There’s a lot of a-ha moments,” Jones says. “People will come to these events even if they’re not record collectors. They’ll have this connection to the past. They’re going to reminisce about family members playing this music or even knowing some of the artists who might have come through Chicago, that discovery and having everyone here, having DJs playing vinyl right there for you.”
Vinyl and Vittles takes place at at Englewood Plaza, 5800 S Halsted St, from noon–5pm on select Sundays this summer and early fall (June 5, July 10, August 7, September 11 and October 2). For more information on updated vendor and talent lineups, visit the Vinyl and Vittles Facebook page.