I have a lot of long-running jokes about Winston-Salem, and I have to be honest: most of them aren’t particularly nice. Most of them do involve the notion of time travel and how if we could harness the vortex of six thousand miles from nowhere that Winston seems to exist in, we could actually build a TARDIS, so there’s that, but still, I don’t go to Winston-Salem very often, and I don’t bother looking to see if I would even want to go to Winston, which is selfish and stuck-up, really. So I’m grateful to Philip Pledger, who fronts Winston band Estrangers, for putting together this hot little festival to showcase his city and its bands — along with plenty of other NC bands, and national bands with connections to NC — because it forces me to work outside my safe little Chapel Hill-Carrboro-Saxapahaw box. (Saxapahaw is as far from my bed as I like to go. What? My bed is awesome. I have a million pillows.)
Check out the Phuzz Phest schedule here.
Philip was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of the festival; on Winston-Salem, the bands he’s invited, and the new single from Estrangers.
What inspired you to start a music festival in Winston-Salem?
It came about somewhat organically; the first year happened because Anthony Petrovic (of Burglar F*cker) & I had coincidentally booked shows 4 days in a row, and figured it would be easier to promote the shows as a whole under the umbrella of a “festival,” than it would to promote 4 individual shows. The shows were surprisingly well-attended and well-received, so that was the impetus to do a proper “Phuzz Phest” and plan a more intentional music festival here.
As someone who doesn’t like to leave Chapel Hill, I don’t know W-S very well. What are some neat things about your city those of us who don’t visit often should know about?
Winston-Salem can be a really cool place if you know where to look. It may seem un-rock-n-roll, but if you’re coming from out of town you should take a tour of Old Salem, and eat a meal/get a drink at Salem Tavern. Aside from that there are plenty of other incredibly good restaurants and bars in downtown Winston… ask a townie for a recommendation. You should also check out Reanimator, a rad new store behind Krankies that has a great selection of new/used vinyl, video games, music gear, books and other stuff.
Why the focus on North Carolina bands? How did you curate the lineup?
A big part of the lineup comes due to logistics, Winston-Salem is in a good spot as it’s within a couple hours driving distance from most of NC’s major cities. Conveniently, North Carolina has an overwhelming number of great bands, so it’s not hard to put together a strong lineup that’s heavy on our state’s talent pool. With that as the base, we basically just try to get the best talent from across the east coast within our budget and see what happens. Hopefully we can continue to grow and expand the scope of the festival in coming years.
Anyone you’re really sad ISN’T playing PP this year?
The War On Drugs. Any of the great bands from the San Francisco garage-rock scene… Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin. We briefly talked with How To Dress Well’s agent, which would have been fun. Chromatics would be sick.
And, I know you’re not supposed to play favorites, but who are you most looking forward to seeing play?
Mount Moriah, Eternal Summers, Spider Bags, William Tyler, Toddlers. I’ll also probably never get tired of seeing Airstrip.
You play in Winston-Salem band Estrangers. Close us up by sharing your favorite track by your band.
We recorded our new full-length this past January at Winston’s best kept secret, ¡El Guapo! Recorders, an incredible analog studio on the south side. We mixed the album ourselves (with our keyboardist David-Todd Murray doing most of the real work), and our new material is my favorite since the band started. Shuffle Magazine debuted the first track from the new album, it’s called “Love’s Pure Light” and streaming/free for download.