Inside Dynamite Vinyl in Fresno's Tower District
Dynamite Vinyl is a museum to all things hip, punk, indie and obscure.
It’s also a record store.
It is the kind of place you go to find the new Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires 7-inch, or a cassette tape from the long-defunct Visalia punk band Plaid Retina. If you’re into ’80s hardcore, the store has the entire catalog from Fresno’s Capitol Punishment (some of it is signed by the band). In all, there are close to 4,500 new titles and an equal number of near-mint and or unplayed records. The rare stuff – the foreign and colored pressings – line the walls of the shop.
“We have more rare, Big Butter than anywhere in the world,” says Dynamite Vinyl co-owner Paul Cruikshank about the band from lowbrow artist (and former Fresnan) Tim Biskup. Fans of the art magazine Juxtapoz will know the name.
Fresno’s Capitol Punishment is the store’s best-selling band.
Technically, Dynamite Vinyl has been open at 1746 Van Ness Ave. since March, but it hosts its official grand opening Aug. 28-29 with live music (Sleeve, Wallflower, the Inciters), a punk rock photo exhibition (from Martin Sorrondeguy) and a special listening party for the Subtractions’ “It’s Exposed” EP.
The Subtractions were one of Fresno’s first punk bands. The group recorded “It’s Exposed” in 1980. The album is finally being released after 35 years on Chicago’s Hozaxc Records. The store will be playing the test pressing of the EP.
80local band demos are available at the store.
Cruikshank is no stranger to record stores or Fresno’s indie and punk scene. He owned Fresno’s Ragin’ Records in the ’90s and promoted concerts at places like Patterson Hall and the Cadillac Club. Fresno punk fans of a certain age will know the face, if not his name.
The grand opening events give an idea of what Cruishank (and his partner, Michael Kanz) have in mind for the store. They want to become more than retail space – a hub for the local punk and indie scene. Having a place for bands to play is prerequisite for a record store these days, Cruikshank says. At least for the really good stores like 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland.
Dynamite’s space is strictly DIY. There’s no stage or production lighting, just a tiny black room, a PA and a few mics. It’s free to promoters looking for a place to house a show. If the shows get customers in the door, all the better.
If you’re going to be serious about indie and punk anymore, you have to have a space to do shows.
Paul Cruikshank, owner
“That could be the capitalist upside,” though it’s proven to not be the case, Cruikshank says.
Except with the touring bands that stop through that tend to fall in love with the shop, he says.
George Esquibel was in love with the shop before it even opened. He was a regular at Ragin’ Records and couldn’t wait to get inside Dynamite. He’s at the store every few weeks and is never disappointed in what he finds.
His most recent score? An EP from Ohio alternative band The Reactors. It was a record he had been looking for for 20-plus years.
“It has to be a cool record,” Esquibel says.
It’s a mentality that he shares with the store’s owners. It’s the reason that Cruikshank and Kanz, two guys with a combined age of 112 years, keep so easily in touch with the latest in indie and punk scenes. They understand the clientele. Much of Dynamite’s initial stock comes from their personal collections, or the collections of their close friends.
“We never got out of touch,” Kanz says. “It’s our culture.”
- 1476 N. Van Ness Ave.
- Opens at noon
- (559) 266-7865 or DynamiteVinyl on Facebook