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Boneset Records plans to open August 21 on the East Side

Musician Maggie Denman aims to create a cozy basement space full of vinyl and VHS.
Maggie Denman is shown standing in the doorway to the office building where her shop Boneset Records will operate. Behind her is a brick wall with a partially opened door in it, and to her left is a window and a large shrub.
Maggie Denman outside the East Johnson Street entrance to Boneset Records.

Musician Maggie Denman aims to create a cozy basement space full of vinyl and VHS.

Madison’s newest record store, Boneset Records, will open its doors at 222 North Street. Owner Maggie Denman plans to be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, “with the goal of opening more, but for now that’s what I can do.”

Denman, a visual artist and Madison musician (she’s played in bands including No Question, Proud Parents, and her Margerat Dryer solo project), is setting up shop in a basement space in an office building at the corner of North and East Johnson Streets; customers will enter through a door on East Johnson. (Full disclosure: Denman has also contributed editorial illustrations to Tone Madison.) Boneset Records joins a tradition of charmingly tucked-away record stores, including The Door in Monona and the much-missed Resale Records and Ear Wax.  

Boneset began to take shape when Denman took over the remaining inventory at Atwood Avenue’s Sugar Shack Records, which closed in April. With that collection as her starting point, Denman says she plans to flesh out the store’s selection to encompass “the kind of music that I like, which is kind of all over the place. Obviously, I want to have a really good punk and metal section, but at the same time, I don’t need to have a really big section of that, because I have a small space. I also want to have a really good reggae and dub section. This past year, I’ve been really diving into Japanese city pop… so it’s kind of a collection of stuff that I really enjoy and I think other people would. I’m sure a lot of my friends would even say [that] when I come across an album and I think they would like it, I’d send it. It’s something I really like.” 

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Andy Villanueva‘s poster design for the store even nods to Denman’s love of ska, incorporating horns into a very-metal array of dragons and skulls. Denman named the store after an album by folk artist Diane Cluck, another element in the idiosyncratic cross-section of music Boneset plans to offer. 

Another big inspiration for Boneset is Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Records, a charming and cozy record store that stubbornly runs on its own logic.

“It’s been very rare that I walk into a record store and I I love what’s being played overhead, and I ask to buy the record. I usually like what’s going on, but I usually either know it or it’s usually a playlist, you know, not a full record. But when I went to Portland, and I went to Mississippi Records—that is the model of what I would like this store to be. That kind of a collection.”

In addition to the music selection, Denman is setting up a shelf of used VHS tapes and plans to host a rack of vintage clothes from Milwaukee’s Return To Odd. Boneset has a like-minded neighbor, a collectibles store called Sig’s Treasure Chest. Between the two establishments, the ’90s-kid energy is unmistakable—Goosebumps, The Noid, Ninja Turtles. Denman even bought a large stuffed Gizmo from Sig’s, which currently occupies a spot on a couch she’s placed in the store to invite people to hang out a while. Boneset might also host a few low-key events here and there, though plans aren’t firmed up for that yet. “I’m making a store that is a store that I would want to go to. Really, this is a place for me to hang out,” Denman says.

The store will be opening as the Eken Park area fills out. In addition to neighborhood staples like Dexter’s Pub, Ogden’s, and the Tip Top Tavern, a new business, Northstreet, will offer a mix of food, coffee, and beer starting this fall. “People kind of forget [that] there’s a lot of foot traffic around here,” Denman says.

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