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Ray's Music Exchange

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Ray's Music Exchange
Real Location: Shelley's Loan Co
Address: 300 E. 47th, Chicago IL
Status: Location still exists

Description: By Dave Newbart (Chicago Sun-Times):
You can still pawn just about anything in the store where Ray Charles was pictured singing a spirited "Shake A Tail Feather" as hundreds danced to the beat outside.

The Bronzeville store -- re-created on a Hollywood set for "The Blues Brothers" -- was renamed Ray's Music Exchange for the movie and set in Calumet City.

But for more than half a century, the store actually has been known as Shelly's Loan and Jewelry at 300 E. 47th.

Its original owner has died, but you can still buy guitars, horns and even keyboards like the one Charles tickled for the movie and then sold to the Blues Brothers band. You also can get electronics like DVD players and big-screen TVs. The store still advertises "Cash in a Flash," as it did in the movie.

But the aging store could soon be out of place in Bronzeville, which is beginning to show signs of a revival. Many of its shelves, formerly stocked with pawned goods for sale, are now bare. Across the street from Shelly's, a sign on a remodeled greystone boasts, "Luxury has a new address."

An art gallery, spoken word cafe and posh eatery sit across the street from the year-old, $19.5 million Harold Washington Cultural Center on Martin Luther King Drive. Those all lie just on the other side of the 47th Street Green Line L station from Shelly's -- the same train station that filled with dancers, despite the chilly weather on the day it was filmed in 1979.
Movie director John Landis said those dancers weren't hired -- they just got off the train and started to boogie.

Longtime resident, 53-year-old Michael Brown remembers the filming of the movie -- he tried to get hired as a dancer but was rebuffed -- and also remembers artists painting the mural of rhythm and blues greats that occupies a half-blocklong wall outside Shelly's.

The store's current owner, Patricia Lowis, said she has had to restore the mural because it has been a target of graffiti artists. Although it's now faded, the larger-than-life pictures of Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Charles still occasionally attract tourists.

Sheldon Zuchman, store manager at the time, remembers the mural took a month to paint. The scene cost $600,000 to produce. In the movie, the mural was backdrop to a spectacular dance number that featured hundreds of extras "shaking their tailfeathers" as Charles sang.

Coordinates: 41.80929852285026,-87.61956233877473
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