Editor’s Notebook: J-Roq in the city

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brian_clareyJ-Roq started to show the first signs of fatigue before things even got interesting Friday evening, which is to say before the sun dropped behind the industrial spires of downtown Winston-Salem. The culprit this time was the mild slope of Patterson Avenue along Bailey Park, which we traversed three times before gaining admittance for the Phuzz Phest kickoff concert and J-Roq, Hobbit-like, took in his second of three post-afternoon meals, a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, courtesy of the Camel City Grill food truck parked on the grounds.
J-Roq, as he’s known in select parts of the Triad’s westernmost city, has been working here for months, and while he’s become astute enough to nail down the best lunch spots and major players, I realized he hasn’t spent enough time on its streets. Which is ironic for a guy called J-Roq.
So when he called on Friday afternoon, I lassoed him into my plans for Winston-Salem’s best weekend, that hot moment in April when RiverRun reaches its crescendo just as Phuzz Phest tears through with an electric squeal.
Streets flow with bodies and sounds and aromas; you can hear people laughing from two blocks away; all the low-hanging parking spots are taken; and even the streetlights seem to be in overdrive, giving off a celestial glow.
Feels like a city to me.

Filmmakers and fans milled through the chambers of the Black Horse Studio, that brick Romanesque sentry on the southeastern corner of downtown, their quiet, reasoned tones a fine counterbalance to the crowded rock rooms across the street and down the block.


J-Roq, still in his work clothes, wheeled the Prius from a preferential parking spot at Bailey Park to the Center for Design Innovation at Winston-Salem State University for the panel discussion about sustaining a music scene, then looped around downtown to score a wristband at Ember Gallery. The space, reserved for hybrids, was still open.
We hit four Phuzz Phest events — my personal fave, a local product called Mama, blasted a crowd of converts at Reanimator Records — before taking in the RiverRun Spark party at the old wagon works.
Filmmakers and fans milled through the chambers of the Black Horse Studio, that brick Romanesque sentry on the southeastern corner of downtown, their quiet, reasoned tones a fine counterbalance to the crowded rock rooms across the street and down the block.
I lost J-Roq just before 11 p.m., when he hopped back in the Prius and I walked north to Test Pattern, where I saw Miami Dice fuse danceable electronica with a live horn, and the Garage where New York groove-metal trio Sunflower Bean laid the place to waste.
I hit the sweet spot for my drive back to Greensboro, an hour before the bars let out in earnest, and if I was of a mind to I could have made it to Walker Avenue a couple rounds before last call.
By then, J-Roq was all tucked up, sleeping off the proteins and the buzz of the city.