by Lorie Lewis Ham
This past January a new music venue hit the scene in Fresno and it seems to be quickly growing into “the place” for concerts and events. Fulton 55 is in downtown Fresno across from the Iron Bird Café and Lofts.
According to General Manager Tony Martin, Fulton 55 doesn’t consider itself a club, but instead a venue. “We don’t like the word club, we like venue, as we are not open every day, only show days.”
The idea to open Fulton came about when the owner noticed that many concerts and events were being held in non traditional places. “He wanted to have a great place for live entertainment,” continued Martin. “The location was chosen because of its size and the fact that it had been vacant for 28 years, and being across the street from the Iron Bird Lofts is a plus. Our size, capacity and layout make us unique to Fresno.”
Fulton is 7500 square feet with two floors and two full service bars with a capacity of 500. “We are working on getting a kitchen in, and until that happens, we are a 21+ venue,” said Martin. “We bring in all genres of music, and are working hard to keep local acts in the loop!”
“It has a cool layout. Two levels. Upper looks down onto the stage and dance area,” said Christine Mitchell, who owns Entandem Productions in Fresno.
Local photographer and actor Ron Blackwell has been at Fulton for a mixer and Fresno Bee Party and agreed that the layout was nice. “There was a bar upstairs and down for easy access. When I was there it was very crowded but still had room to maneuver. There are two sets of stairs leading to the upper area and you can then look down on the floor below and watch the action.”
Martin, who has lived in Fresno since 1983, has extensive experience in the local music industry having managed local bands, been a promoter, booking agent and general manager at Club Fred for five years. He is excited about this new venture and what it could become. “We want to become a regional destination point for folks to see live entertainment. We are working hard on building the foundation of fans for Fulton 55 so we can be open for many years to come. We may be hitting singles and doubles right now, the home runs will come later!” He also hopes Fulton becomes a venue that picks up bigger acts that would normally pass Fresno.
So far the buzz is almost entirely positive despite a few parking issues. Writer/Producer at JP Marketing Anthony Taylor is already a huge fan. “I loved it! The place is super clean (almost too clean) inside with brick walls and art everywhere. Love the backdrop behind the band. Love the two levels. It feels like you’re in one of the many smaller Bay Area clubs I love going to when I go back home. Sound was good, drinks were strong and the service was not bad. I love that a place like Fulton 55 is working with local promoters to bring some awesome acts to town. I’m a big fan!”
Local bands also seem to be taken with the new venue. “It’s a fantastic venue,” said Noah Babcock, bass player for Fresno’s very popular band Shiver Fox. “The bar is great, the employees are all very friendly, it’s a clean place, and you couldn’t ask for better sound for a venue that size. It’s a top notch place that more folks need to know about.”
As far as what type of music people can expect to hear at Fulton 55, they are open to almost any type of music and even comedy acts, only excluding any type that tends to bring in rough crowds. “We go by what we think the draw will be, as well as mixing it up genre wise,” stated Martin. They also try to have earlier show times so people can get in and out at a reasonable hour.
KRL staff writer and local theatre director Heather Parish shares a description of Fulton:
“Your first impression of Fulton 55 comes at the door. A nicely dressed, professional-but-not-off-putting bouncer checks IDs and monitors the behavior of those going and coming.
Inside, there’s a sense of openness to the place. It doesn’t feel oppressive by too much black paint or sticky floors. The open brickwork of the walls and high-vaulted windows give the place a decidedly urban-chic feel. The ground floor features a large dance-floor, leather swathed benches and a shiny bar and tables at the back.
Upstairs is where it gets interesting, though. Fulton 55 features a mezzanine level with a second bar, more leather swathed lounge chairs, couches and ottomans and a few of the stage and dance floor from above. The windows up there also offer small views of the streets outside, making you feel like you’re in the big, big city. The Mezzanine level is perfect for those who enjoy clubs for socializing while listening to some great music rather than being in the thick of things on the ground floor.
The bartenders are pros, the environment is comfortable but swanky and a terrific addition to the Fulton nightlife scene.”
So if you’re looking for some great music and entertainment, why not check out Fulton 55 at 875 Divisadero Street (corner of Fulton and Divisadero Streets) in Fresno. I can’t wait for a chance to get out of Reedley and check it out myself–for you Buffy fans like me out there it sounds a lot like the Bronze! Tickets can be purchased at ticketfly and at the Iron Bird Cafe and The Laundry Room. To keep up with what acts are coming to Fulton you can check out their website or their event page here at KRL.