He’s been described by Antifolk founder Lach as a pillar of Derby’s local music scene and for the last couple of decades Phil Burgess has been instrumental in bringing bands to the city across a number of venues. But it’s all about to change as he leaves his long term role with the Hairy Dog after nearly ten years in-house.
Promoters are often one of the hidden heroes of live music, or given a bad rap when they are called out. But Burgess has been the antithesis of the money-grabbing music-commoditising promoter many might think of; gently spoken but fiercely passionate about the bands he puts on and resolute in building audiences over time rather than a single show.
Over his time on the scene he’s promoted shows for bands including Slaves, Sleaford Mods, Martha, God Speed You Black Emperor!, The Buzzcocks, Napalm Death, Radiophonic Workshop, Skints, The Lovely Eggs, Old Firm Casuals, The Blockheads and Fishbone. And without wanting to stray into obituary territory – for Burgess is very much still with us and we’re confident will remain a lynchpin of the local scene – Storge feels recognition is long-overdue. And we’re not the only ones.
Lach, who founded the Antifolk movement in New York and has seen artists including Lady Gaga and Beck cross the stages he’s promoted, regularly returns to the Hairy Dog and has named it one of his favourite UK venues. He puts this down to one thing, “Phil Burgess and the scene he works so hard to keep going. He’s the gentleman that books the shows. He’s a righteous lover of true music as well as a talented artist and musician in his own right. My first gig or two there I was still an unknown artist in Derby but Phil treated me well and kept booking me and the crowds got bigger and bigger. It’s that kind of long-term vision that makes a scene happen.”
While he’s most recently been at the Hairy Dog Burgess has also been a booker at The Old Bell and the Victoria Inn as well as pairing up with independent promoters in the city including Reckless Yes, and Dave Hindmarsh. Writing on Facebook Hindmarsh said, “This weekend sees a sad landmark event in Derby’s live music history: Phil leaving the Hairy Dog.
“I’ve known Phil for longer than I care to remember, even before I met him I’d heard stories about him from kids I taught at school, who worked for him. When I did eventually meet him we got on straight away and started promoting together at the Victoria Inn, moving on to the Old Bell, promoting, setting up regular punk evenings and even DJing them and eventually moving to the Hairy Dog. We’ve even played in bands together.
“Phil has put some amazing gigs on in Derby and his passion and commitment to Derby cannot be questioned. He’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. His eclectic music taste and passion has bright some of the biggest names in music to Derby and has built up the Hairy Dog to be one of the first places on any bands list to play in the UK.”
A musician and artist Burgess currently plays in Prizefighter and has exhibited artwork under the name D Filis. Storge editor Sarah Lay worked with him in 2013 on a number of Bank Holiday all-dayers in Derby and has since worked with him through Reckless Yes. She said, “Always a pleasure to work with Phil Burgess is one of the rare people in music who do it for the love of it, and are passionate about looking after artists and putting on great shows whether three or 300 people walk through the door. It’s an often thankless task but the fact bands return to our small city time and again because of the experience they’ve had speaks volumes about Phil, backed up by his love and long-service to our local scene and the bands coming and going on it.”
Phil Burgess is putting on a night of music and art at Dubrek Studios on 12 May 2018 under his D Filis name. As well as his artwork and a debut performance by Storge favourites Sex Jokes the rest of the night will be revealed only to those attending. Find event details on Facebook here.