The Crispy Music Festival

Landmark August 19th Showcase at White's Bar

    icon Aug 10, 2023
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Flashback to the year 1992. This was the year 31-years ago that an avid young music fan named Chris Palmer and his partner Kris Skentzos grew tired of driving down to Flint to catch shows featuring the emerging crop of young punk/thrash and metal bands that were breaking down barriers to sound & sensibilities and decided to stage the very first Crispy Music Festival at the Old James Towne Hall, which featured groups like The Rugby Mothers, Power on Hold, Silverspork, and The Mongrels.

Three decades down the pipeline and The Crispy Music Fest has managed to evolve into one of the most dynamic musical showcases of the summer, featuring local, statewide, and even national acts such as The Meatmen, who ride on the cutting edge of the alternative market; and now Palmer is busily putting the finishing touches on Crispy Music Fest 31, which will be happening on Saturday, August 19th at White’s Bar in Saginaw from 2:00 PM - 2:00 AM.

Featuring headliners Silverspork and The Mongrels, who have performed at every Crispy Fest since its inception, the festival will also include the groups Tiger Sex, Choking Susan, Whoremones, BadMouth, and more, along with food and art vendors.

“The first Crispy Fest actually started as somewhat of a joke,” relates Palmer, “as it was more of a going away party for me when I was going into the military. I continued the festival and then took a few years off, but back in 2010-2011 decided to move the festival to White’s Bar, because they were celebrating their 75th anniversary and I wanted to do something special in honor of the support Bo White has given bands through the years, and we’ve been doing it there ever since.”

Chris says the idea behind the Crispy Fest came from the fact he loves music. “I wanted to showcase local acts, and Silverspork have always been a festival staple and The Mongrels have also played most of the shows. I’ve got connections with a lot of the Detroit bands, so have been able to get them more regional exposure in this market, and every year I’m getting submissions from bands even before I finalize whether I’m going to do the festival or not. We’re featuring 10 bands this year, but I probably get about 20 to 30 submissions from various groups.”

Chris admits that between securing acts, enduring the ravages of thunderstorms, and generating sponsorship support, staging the festival is always a challenge, as for the last 18-months he has also been running the St. Charles area museum which consumes much of his effort, but this 2023 show was important to pull together because it’s a special year.

“Silverspork is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year and The Mongrels are celebrating their 20th Anniversary, so with their connection to the festival, both of these sets are going to be special performances,” he reflects. “Choking Susan is a great female punk band and Tiger Sex have been here several times and have also performed at the SOS Fest and Marxfest.  Last year they were in England and couldn’t make the Crispy, so this year they are making it up and we’re looking forward to their return!”

Chris admits it’s gratifying to look back at the great musicians and bands he’s been able to showcase over the years. “We’ve featured Easy Action, who’s lead singer is with The Laughing Hyenas now, Aceldema, and several bands who have gone on to bigger things. Last year we featured Mephistopheles, who are from New York and they drew people from Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, and New York who made the trip to Saginaw.”

Given the big anniversary years for both Silverspork and The Mongrels, what is the biggest growth and evolution with these bands that Chris has witnessed over the years?

Silverspork has always been way ahead of their time.  Recently, I played a song they’d written a decade ago and these people thought it was a brand new song. Every member of that band is unique. The lyrics singer & lyricist Brian Gretzinger writes are incredible, because he really reaches into his faith in God through the songs, which come through in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways; Jay Burk is one of the best bass players out there and he supplies the heavy foundation needed, while Mario Salcedo is one of the best drummers and power personified. And what guitarist Carl Abila contributes cannot be overstated because it’s so focused and simple that it’s great!”

“As for The Mongrels, they’re always true to their punk roots,” continues Palmer. “Tim Avram is a great songwriter and lyricist and I love watching him perform, while nothing can be said about Joe Balbaugh that hasn’t been said before; and Charlie I met when he was with the Honky Tonk Zeros when they brought him in as a second guitar player, and I think that really brought the group into focus. They’ve grown a lot as a band.”

While weather is always a factor with any outdoor event, Chris notes that he has Level 47 Productions handling the sound & lights and are always prepared.  “Bruce & Robyn are both fantastic people and I love having a good working relationship with them. I once booked bands for both the indoor and outdoor stages, but this year I’m only using the indoor stage on a limited basis in the event we have to make a switch and move some of the headliners indoors.”

Additionally, a new feature at this year’s festival will be local art vendors Moongirls Designs, Acascion Designs, Josh Comics, and Orc Leather on display featuring their works; and the After Party  will consist of Buzz Bin performing indoors after the festival.  “They’re a great band and are going to focus their set list on female grunge and punk music, so there will probably be a lot of Hole and L7, if they have that in their repertoire.”

Tickets to The Crispy Music Festival are only $10.00 in advance and $12.00 at the door and tickets can be purchased at White’s Bar or by visiting


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