Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

It’s time to give Phuzz Phest a listen

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For five years, I have been hearing about Phuzz Phest, an up-and-coming music festival held in the heart of Winston-Salem, N.C., each spring. The festival returns to the Camel City on April 17-19 with more than 60 bands and this year, I am committed to going to hear some of the performances.

Phuzz Phest reminds me a bit of Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival held over Memorial Day weekend in Martinsville, Va. Rooster Walk started out seven years ago with a couple of bands and some kegs in a field and today has morphed into an event featuring such headliners as Yonder Mountain String Band, Lake Street Dive, Steep Canyon Rangers and Southern Culture on the Skids. But the first few years, I had never heard of the bands/performers. Despite the encouragement of some friends, I didn’t go until three years ago when Leftover Salmon was announced as a headliner. Now I am hooked and wished I would have gone sooner. I have a feeling I am going to feel the same way about Phuzz Phest.

Billing itself as Winston-Salem’s premiere annual music festival, Phuzz Records and Phuzz Phest founder Phillip Pledger says, We’re trying to build something special for Winston-Salem and our state.”

This year’s Phuzz Phest will include bands from as far away as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, New York and Australia. Headliners include Foxygen, a California band with roots in classic rock and baroque pop, and the 20-plus-year synth metal veterans Trans Am and rockers Protomartyr and Cymbals Eat Guitars.

As the festival has grown, so has its offerings of local talent. This year 25 bands from Winston-Salem and Greensboro will perform including Pledger’s band, Estrangers, and his former bandmate Caleb Caudle.

The festival press release states, “As one of North Carolina’s fastest growing music festivals, Phuzz Phest has built its reputation on keenly curating the best national, regional and local acts for a fantastic weekend of music, offering attendees a rare opportunity to see critically-acclaimed artists alongside hidden-gem locals in intimate settings that highlight the excellent character of Winston-Salem’s artistic community.

“When it comes to headliners, the talent and range of our top-billed acts serve as a preview for what will be a weekend of music unlike any which has ever taken place in Winston-Salem.”

In addition to the more than 60 bands/performers, there will also be extra-musical activities including the second annual Skateboard Jam and a new guitarpedal forum.

Phuzz Phest is also committed to remaining affordable. Wristbands are available for $70 for three days; $30 for Saturday; and $25 for Friday or Sunday.

Following are five reasons I am going to go to Phuzz Phest for the first time. What are yours?

1. Caleb Caudle will play at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, at The Millennium Center.  On the heels of releasing the Germantown, N.C., native’s fifth album, “Tobacco Town,” in five years, Blurt Magazine writes of Caudle “…jaw-droppingly fine songs steeped in classic Earle, Ely, Clark, McMurtry and Van Zandt.”

2. Tyler Nail will play at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, at The Garage. You can learn more about Nail, who is a songwriter, singer, drummer, guitarist and producer mired in roots music, on his website.

 3. Blackbird Blackbird will play at 11:15 p.m. on Friday, April 17, at Krankies Coffee. The band featuring Mikey Maramag promises to deliver “dreamy folktronica” from San Francisco.
4. Natalie Prass will play at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdya, April 18, at The Garage. The acclaimed singer-songwriter from Richmond has toured with Ryan Adams.
5. Must Be The Holy Ghost will play at 9:15 p.m. on Friday, April 17, at Krankies Coffee.  MBTHG is the latest vehicle for North Carolina’s longtime sonic traveler Jared Draughon.

The full eclectic lineup follows:

1970s Film Stock (W-S, NC)

Alex Cameron (Sydney, Australia)

Aquatic Ceremony (W-S, NC)

Blackbird Blackbird (San Francisco, CA)

Blursome (Raleigh, NC)

Boulevards (Raleigh, NC)

Cactus Black (W-S, NC)

Caleb Caudle (W-S, NC)

Celestogramme (Carrboro, NC)

Cymbals Eat Guitars (New York, NY)

Dad & Dad (Carrboro, NC)

Daddy Issues (Greensboro, NC)

The Dead Tongues (Asheville, NC)

Echo Courts (Greensboro, NC)

Echo Crush (W-S, NC)

Eggy Strange (Durham, NC)

Estrangers (W-S, NC)

Ex Hex (Washington, DC)

Family Bike (Southport, NC)

Field Spirit (Chapel Hill, NC)

Firekat (W-S, NC)

Foxture (W-S, NC)

Foxygen (Los Angeles, CA)

Free Clinic (Wilmington, NC)

Futurebirds (Athens, GA)

The Genuine (W-S, NC)

The Gotobeds (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hamilton Leithauser (Brooklyn, NY)

The Human Eyes (Carrboro, NC)

Jeffrey Dean Foster (W-S, NC)

Joy Classic (Baltimore, MD)

Judy Barnes (W-S, NC)

Las Rosas (Brooklyn, NY)

Let Speak The Gods (W-S, NC)

Mac McCaughan (Durham, NC)

Make Light (W-S, NC)

Must Be The Holy Ghost (W-S, NC)

Natalie Prass (Nashville, TN)

Nest Egg (Asheville, NC)

Primovanhalen (W-S, NC)

Protomartyr (Detroit, MI)

R Father (Greensboro, NC)

River Whyless (Asheville, NC)

Ships In The Night (Charlottesville, VA)

T0W3RS (Raleigh, NC)

The Tills (Asheville, NC)

Totally Slow (Greensboro, NC)

Trans Am (Bethesda, MD)

Tyler Nail (W-S, NC)

Unfortunate Gentlemen (W-S, NC)

Vel Indica (W-S, NC)

Volunteer (W-S, NC)

Winston Facials (W-S, NC)

Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves (W-S,NC)

Yes The Raven (Hickory, NC)

One thought on “It’s time to give Phuzz Phest a listen

  1. Lisa – I enjoyed meeting and talking with you at Phuzz. Be in touch – would love to connect again about the topics discussed and life in general! You have my email.. Angie K

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