Best of Nightlife & Entertainment

Best music hangout: Phono Select

Nicholas Lujan (left) and Dal Basi want to share the music with you at Phono Select.

Nicholas Lujan (left) and Dal Basi want to share the music with you at Phono Select.

photo by ryan donahue

Ask Dal Basi and Nicholas Lujan why they chose to open Phono Select, their record store in Midtown, and, as if on cue, they both laugh.

Launching the business in 2010, amid a still anemic economic market and after the closure of other record stores in the region—including Tower Records and R5 Records, both of which Basi worked at—their model was a little different.

“We don’t just sell music here,” Basi said, “we share music.”

For instance, Basi said the shop wants to “partner up with local bands,” with the goal of becoming more of a music hangout.

Longtime friends since their skateboarding days as youngsters in Stockton, Basi, 45, has been working in record stores for more than two decades. Lujan, 30, offered to help out if Basi—“an encyclopedia of [musical] knowledge,” according to his business partner—ever chose to open up shop himself.

They have stocked the shelves with releases by many local artists, including electronic, hip-hop, rock and experimental genres.

The shop is a champion of analog—“big fans of analog,” to be exact, per its website—and the biggest seller is vinyl, followed by cassettes. It’s a modest-sized space, clean and uncluttered—which is quite a feat for a record store, let alone one that sells new and used music. The design features a sky-blue wall with espresso-stained homemade wooden shelves along it, and a gray cinder-block wall opposite it behind the register, which is dotted with bottle-sized horizontal solar tubes, allowing a glimpse of green leaves from the outside in.

Recently, as part of its effort to be more of a community music center, the store hosted a live show behind the building called Punk N’ Junk, a benefit bake sale with a deejay, and a happy hour with beer, coffee and a mixtape exchange.

“We’re trying to find a new location that will allow us to do [more events] like that,” Lujan said. And just maybe room for arcade games, too. 2312 K Street, (916) 400-3164,