When Tower District Records proprietor Bob Lambert found out that four-piece pop outfit SpyGenius was coming to Fresno from Canterbury, U.K., he decided to make a party of it. Bringing SpyGenius’s local friends Blake Jones & The Trike Shop on board, Bob invited other regional power-pop bands to join the bill. Before long, he had more talent than a single weekend could contain, and since he was already planning to host ArtHop on Thursday, he decided to create a five-day festival.
And so this Wednesday, Aug. 1, the inaugural Don’t Let the Door Hit You Music Festival will launch at 6 p.m. and run through the weekend. The free, all-ages event will feature live performances from Fresno bands Sci-fi Caper, Jeff Bowman (whose Thursday performance coincides with ArtHop), Style Like Revelators, Victor Sotelo, and—perfect for Sunday morning—Ray Moore & Keysha Burns Isler Inspirational Gospel Music.
Other acts hail from Seattle (Flying Fish Cove), Los Angeles (Vanessa Silberman), Sacramento (Fifty Watt Heavy), San Diego (Rockford), Kingsburg (Blake Jones & The Trike Shop), Atascadero (Dave, Brian & The Forty Hour Work Week), Burbank (The Armoires), and San Francisco (The Bobbleheads).
Location attracts a new generation of vinyl lovers
While this isn’t the first show to rock the stage of Tower District Records, it’s decidedly the most epic event held since the store moved to its new location last October. The current spot, on Echo Ave. across from Fresno High, is the third incarnation of the shop, which has been operating in town for about four years. “It’s been great over here so far. We do a lot of live music,” says manager Nick Navarro, who’s been working for Bob since the birth of Tower District Records at its original location, a tiny spot on Olive next to The Stuffed Pipe that quickly outgrew its space. Specializing in used records, the shop stocks a dizzying selection of classic rock, R&B, jazz, country, and blues.
Sitting right across the street from Fresno’s namesake high school, the shop seems perfectly positioned to indoctrinate a new generation of young people into the hallowed tradition of vinyl.
And the timing couldn’t be better. As impersonal digital downloads have become the music industry’s standard, millennials are discovering and falling for the warm, fuzzy intimacy of the vinyl records beloved by their parents and grandparents. Specifically, the incomparable sound, as well as the hands-on experience of flipping through stacks of records and getting grabbed by big, bold, frame-worthy album covers that catch the eye and move the heart more than an itunes thumbnail ever could. Consider the Rolling Stones’ 1971 “Sticky Fingers” album, whose cover—conceived by Andy Warhol—features a working zipper, or 1972’s “The Four Sides of Melanie,” whose psychedelic colors and design evoke another world. Happening upon artifacts like these can provide the sort of visceral thrill usually reserved for the likes of Indiana Jones.
Shop holds more than records
Tower District Records not only affords patrons the increasingly rare opportunity to buy, sell, listen to, and look at records, it’s also a full-service shop for a total retro makeover. In the front room, Lawrence Cervantes’s Boomerang Vintage Audio buys, sells, trades, and repairs vintage stereo equipment. Turntables, speakers, and stereo receivers abound here, and Lawrence is on hand most of the time to field inquiries.
A little deeper into the shop, you’ll come to Belinda Enriquez’s nail salon setup. She’s also in the store most of the time, but you can book an appointment with her at beldoesnails.com. And to complete your new, vinyl-friendly style, you can check out the racks of vintage clothes and thrift-store treasures from Bad Kids Club. “A lot of the high school kids are super into that stuff,” says Nick, who, when he’s not at work, can be seen and heard playing with Style Like Revelators, which is set to perform at the shop on Friday night.
To the back of the store, you’ll notice an intriguing room filled to the ceiling with albums. This is where the shop’s new inventory and back-stock is housed, and where records are cleaned and flattened. On the wall nearby is a small shelf devoted to cassettes. And there’s even a self-serve tea station with complimentary tea, demonstrating the establishment’s willingness to let patrons hang out, explore, and steep in the ambience. On the back wall of the shop, a freshly painted mural flanks the stage where performers in this week’s festival will set up and play.
Festival lineup spans five days
The Don’t Let the Door Hit You Music Festival kicks off five days of live music on Wednesday, Aug. 1 and runs through the weekend. Free food and drinks will be provided. (And it may be worth noting that the record shop is conveniently located just a few steps from Ampersand, close enough that you can skip out for some ice cream and not risk a meltdown on the way.)
The festival lineup is as follows:
Wednesday, August 1
Sci-Fi Caper at 6 p.m.
Flying Fish Cove at 8 p.m.
Thursday, August 2
Jeff Bowman at 6 p.m.
Friday, August 3
Vanessa Silberman at 6:30 p.m.
Style Like Revelators at 8 p.m.
Fifty Watt Heavy at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 4
Victor Sotelo, 5 p.m.
Rockford at 6:30 p.m.
Blake Jones & The Trike Shop at 8 p.m.
SpyGenius at 9:30 pm
Sunday, August 5
Ray Moore & Keysha Burns Isler Inspirational Gospel Music, 11 a.m.
Dave, Brian & The Forty Hour Work Week at 12:30 p.m.
The Armoires at 2 p.m.
The Bobbleheads at 3:30 p.m.
Tower District Records is located at 1930 N. Echo. You can visit its Facebook page here or call (559) 478-4034 for more information.
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