Allysen Mahaffey, who became involved the second year; since then she’s become a board member and also Pledger’s sister-in-law:
I’ve lived in Winston since 2010. I’ve always gone to local shows and love music. I feel like my scene in Winston has changed a little bit. Before I would just go to random stuff or I would go out of town to like Charlotte and things like that.
I think I first went [to the festival] in 2012. It was like a small set, at Krankies patio. I can’t remember if it was Michael Taylor or Hiss Golden Messenger but one of them was playing on Krankies porch the first year. That’s my only memory of that first year.
I was with just a couple friends. I hadn’t really heard of Phuzz Phest but a friend wanted to go so I went.
I went to the full festival in 2013 and every year after that.
The second year was I think where it started popping off and that was fun because we utilized the entire block of the Werehouse.
There was shows [the second year] in the lower parking lot of Krankies. They had a stage, and the Krankies stage and a few things in Reanimator, and the Cycle Your City spot was still empty so there was a show in there. It was really fun just being on the block all day.
I think one of the coolest ones was one that was pretty far off the radar and kind of unassuming, but it was Hiss Golden Messenger played on the porch of Krankies. I’ll have to check: I believe that was 2013? Wait. No, that’s 2012. That was just a solo set with Michael Taylor, with like a dozen people on the porch. And it was super, really intimate and really incredible. Obviously, he’s gone on to do some pretty amazing things with Merge Records and getting some international acclaim.
That same year Calvin Johnson was really cool. Beat Happening [Calvin’s band]. That was the first time T0W3RS ever played in Winston. That was also maybe one of the Bayonets last shows.
Calvin Johnson, who is a long time indie-rock person from Portland [Ore.] and runs this record label K Records and had been a part of Beat Happening and the Dub Narcotic Sound System. He ended up playing at Krankies solo, sort of just standing there with an acoustic guitar. It was very fun and unexpected, and he and I just had a conversation afterwards about being in a very small town and a very small music scene. He’s from Olympia, Washington, which is a similarly small town. I just remember having this very great feeling of enthusiasm afterwards that this festival is really awesome… it built enthusiasm in me in a really great way.
One of my favorite experiences was the second year. There was no shows on a Sunday and we did a show where four or less of us were gonna just play acoustic guitar songs in the backyard of Krankies. That day more and more people kept showing up. We were handing over the guitar, handing over the piano, just a lot of local people drinking and screwing around, just a really cool thing that could never be duplicated if we planned it that way.
I mentioned Elliott’s. Krankies has obviously evolved a good bit. When it first started, a good portion of the shows were at Krankies. The stage was at a different location in the space, and we used the back lot for that big-tent stage at the very beginning, which was fun. Kind of a very hapharzardly put together sound system and stuff. Over the past two years we’ve gone and added bigger spaces like the Millennium Center and Bailey Park, which is really exciting. Kind of our goal from the beginning, whether it’s the music or the stages, our goal has been to showcase the best side of Winston and give the best snapshot of Winston. And so we really wanted to show of the natural spaces, like the urban landscape of Winston-Salem. And then Reanimator’s gone through a couple of iterations as well. I think they’re a super important member of the music and arts and just weirdo culture here in Winston.
[Krankies] was the first time I ever saw the band the Tills. It was an afternoon show and they were just stunningly good, just this crazy garage-rock performance and these guys really knocked my socks off. They later on went on to work with Philip and release a record on Phuzz’s record label.
The second Phuzz Phest also began its relationship with the Garage, which in 2012 had just been taken over by Tucker Tharpe.
I knew right away it was a real festival. The guys had made their mistakes before they came to me. I never had any self doubt or anything. When they came to me they had a bunch of badass bands. As soon as they came to me I knew I was sponsoring it — if Anthony and Philip were doing it, I was on board — I can’t think of anyone else in town I respect more, musically.
That was everything for me in the beginning, knowing it was Philip and Anthony — I had a real interest in aligning myself with those guys even more than we had already done. We were already brothers and sisters, but I wanted to do more.
I had my own motives. The Garage couldn’t not be a part of something that cool.
I remember Mount Moriah at the Garage. That was when I first heard of Mount Moriah and saw them live. Heather [McEntire], their lead singer, is incredible.
I really love the Garage. I love that venue. I think it’s just fun that it has a lot of the old posters and everything that’s playing there and it’s small and intimate and kind of grungy. [McEntire] really knows how to captivate an audience because her style and lyrics are so incredible. It’s very vulnerable and authentic. You can tell she’s very convicted and writes from a true place and I think that comes out in her stage presence.
I think the Love Language played and I thought they were really fun, and maybe Judy Barnes but I can’t remember if she was in 2012 or 2013.