Know Your Neighbor: Damon Wood, Musician and Yakima Business Owner | Explore Yakima

Damon Wood has been part of the community since the 1990s. Although not a permanent fixture, he keeps coming back, making friends with more of the downtown Yakima scene every time he sticks around.

Originally from Stockton, California, Wood landed in Yakima in 1990 and stayed for seven years, playing drums for the band Stonefly.

He bounces back and forth between Yakima and Las Vegas and has been living here again since 2017.

Damon Wood poses for a portrait behind the bar at Punks in Yakima, Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

You may have seen him as a batter at the Yakima Avenue Sports Center. Or maybe a job at Kana Winery on Second Street. He also spent time at The Seasons Performance Hall and Hop Nation.

Wood is now co-owner, booker and bartender at Punks Bar, 31 N. First St. The bar is in the same building that once housed Hop Nation.

Punks Bar is the brainchild of Wood and co-owner Chris Cox. They both wanted Punks to be “a very non-divisive place where everyone can feel comfortable and come out and have live music,” Wood said. “Our hope is just to be a staple in Yakima, to be a destination, you know, where people will say, ‘Hey, what are we doing in Yakima?’ “

Wood has two daughters, Mackenzie, 24, and Sierra, 22. He beams with pride as he talks about their accomplishments. “My daughters are great. I mean, they’ve done a lot of great things around town,” Wood said.

His oldest is in Seattle after graduating from the University of Washington, and his youngest is in college here and is now a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Yakima YMCA Aquatic Center.

A friend of the downtown Yakima scene, Wood is pleased to be a part of the local beer, wine and music industry.

What do you like about Yakima?

I just love the people here. I remember when I first moved here, I remember driving down the road, kind of in the West Valley area, and people would just wave at you as you passed them. That struck me. I was like, “I don’t know this guy, what the hell is going on?” So I’ve always had this friendly feeling here, and there’s a lot of good people around.

The weather, the people, I love it, there’s just so much potential here. I think people feel a little dumb about how things might be happening at the time or whatever. There have been a lot of ups and downs lately, but there is still a lot of potential for people who want to get out of the big city rat race and start new companies here. I think it’s a city with really big growth potential. That’s why I think small businesses like ours (Punks Bar) and others should join other people.

What do you want to see in Explore?

Music, culture, arts, visual arts, all these things.

Cultural things, like in the Lower Valley. I think so many people forget about the Lower Valley when you live in Yakima.

Q&A with Damon Wood, owner of Punks Bar

Damon Wood sits for a portrait on the patio of Punks Bar in Yakima, Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

Historical stuff. I know you may not have made that much of it, but I remember an article in the newspaper about the history of dams and irrigation lines and how one family and another family that built these things had a feud and it was a big deal there. Things like these are really interesting and make Yakima really interesting.

There are so many obscure things that people don’t even know. I mean they could tell a historical story about this little street corner. You can probably make up an entire article just about that.

If you were the editor of Explore, who would you want to interview?

There’s a guy named Keith, he has a whole bunch of single wheel skateboards. One-wheelers. Punks Bar is certified for the one-wheeler charging station application. He comes here with his whole group and they walk around town and stuff. He participated in these competitions and was ranked third in the state. He is also an artist who brought a bunch of works that I just put up.

Dalton, I can’t remember his last name, but he owns a screen printing company and Winey Dogs. And I love that he just has a lot of motivation for the community. So I think it will be good.

I don’t really know much about them, which is probably why I want to hear about them, the guys who opened the skate and wine shop (Yakima Valley Emporium or AVE). They were here and we were kind of talking and we were going to skate here but the parking lot sucks.

5 favorite things

1. My daughters, I love them, they are so great, I wish I could spend more time with them.

2. Music. It’s always been a huge part of my life. Watching live music. It’s a big thing and I want there to be at least a two-day music festival here someday (waves at Punks Bar).

3. I like to travel, I wish I could do it more.

4. Food, new and interesting food. And it goes well with something for travel.

5. And Xander, my dog.

(Since pets are an easy answer, Zander, a regular at Punks Bar, had to give his five favorite things: 1. Ass and ear scratches. 2. Pizza. 3. Any human food. 4. Skateboards and bicycle wheels 5. New blanket from All Mutts Great and Small.)

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