Know Your Neighbor: Damon Wood, musician and Yakima business owner Explore Yakima

Damon Wood has been a part of the community since the 1990s. Although not a permanent fixture, he keeps coming back, befriending more downtown Yakima scenesters 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 bounced 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 on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Yakima, Wash.

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

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

Punks Bar was an idea developed by Wood and co-owner Chris Cox. Both punks wanted “a very non-segregated place where anyone could feel comfortable and hang out and get some live music,” Wood said. “It’s our hope to become a staple in Yakima, a destination place, you know, where people will say, ‘Hey, what do we do in Yakima?’ And I’d tell people, ‘Oh, man – you should check out the punks.

Wood has two daughters, Mackenzie, 24, and Sierra, 22. He beams with pride when talking about their achievements. “My daughters are very good. I mean, they’ve done a lot of good stuff around town,” Wood said.

Her oldest is in Seattle after graduating from the University of Washington and her youngest went to college here and is now a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Yakima YMCA Aquatic Center.

A friendly fixture on the downtown Yakima scene, Wood is happy to be a part of the local beer, wine and music industry.

What do you love about Yakima?

I just love the people here. I remember when I first moved here, I remember driving down the street, like in the West Valley area and people would wave at you as they passed you. It blew me away. I was like, ‘I don’t know that person, what’s going on?’ So I’ve always had that kind of friendly feeling around here and there’s a lot of nice people around here.

The weather, the people, I love that there are so many possibilities here. I think people go down a little bit about, like, things going over time or whatever. It’s had a lot of ups and downs lately but still has a lot of potential for people who want to get out of the big city rat race and start new companies here. I think this is a city with great potential for growth. So I think small businesses like ours (Punks Bar) and others need to join hands with other people.

What would you like to see in exploration?

Music, culture, art, visual arts, all those things.

Cultural things like in the lower valley. I think a lot of people forget about the lower valley when you live in Yakima.

Q&A with Punks Bar owner Damon Wood

Damon Wood poses for a portrait on the patio of Punk’s Bar in Yakima, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

historical matter. I know you haven’t done that much, but I remember an article written about the history of dams and irrigation lines and how some families built those things and other families clashed. It was a big deal. Things like that are really interesting and that’s what makes Yakima really interesting.

There are many obscure things that people don’t know. I mean, they could tell a historical story about this little corner of the street. You could probably come up with an entire article on that.

If you were an investigative editor, who would you want to interview?

There’s this guy named Keith, he has a whole bunch of one-wheeled skateboards. A one-wheeled vehicle. Punks Bar is a certified on-wheel charging station app. He comes here with his whole group and they go on rides around town and stuff. He’s doing these races and is like third in the state. He’s also an artist who brought in a bunch of work I just put up.

Dalton, I can’t remember his last name, but he owns a screen printing company and Wine Dogs. And I love that he’s got so much inspiration about community. So, I think he’s good.

I don’t know much about them, so maybe I’d like to hear about them, the guys who opened the skate and wine shop (Yakima Valley Emporium, or AVE). They come here and we kind of talked and we were going to do a skate thing here but the parking sucks.

5 favorite things

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

2. Music. It has always been a big part of my life. Watching live music. That’s great and I want at least a two day music festival here (gestures to the punks bar).

3. I love traveling, I can do more than that.

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

5. And Zander, my dog.

(Since pets are the easy answer, Zander, a regular at Punk’s Bar, had to give his five favorite things: 1. Butts and ear scratches. 2. Pizza. 3. Any human food. 4. Skateboards and bicycle wheels. 5. All A new blanket from Mutts Great and Small.)

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