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by Jeremy Benson

Over 15 years ago, Chris "Chris P." Palmer and some friends started organizing a weekend-long show to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Although the first three years of what became known as the Crispy Music Festival were successful, when Palmer moved to Lansing he lost touch with his co-organizers and fans of the festival. With a little help from electronic social networking, the Crispy Music Festival is finally returning, in a new venue and with a new lineup, to provide the scene with two days of sunshine and 23 bands of music. And Chris Palmer is still the man behind it all.

Jeremy Benson: This is the first Crispy Music Festival since 1994. Would you say it’s a continuation of the original, or is this just completely different experience altogether?

Chris Palmer: It's still along the lines of the original. I've moved it from Old Jamestown Hall in Bay City to White's Bar, and now the show is mostly all outdoors. This year I'm offering food and other attractions, too. On Saturday, professional wrestler Sabu will be out to sign autographs until 3p.m.. He just signed a contract with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, so he has to fly out to perform in a pay-per-view event. This will probably be his last independent booking for the next 6 months.

I'd say it's a continuation, but it has matured over the last 16 years.

JB: Are you nostalgic for those early years of the Crispy Music Festival?

CP: I look back on it and I wish we could have some of the bands who played then play again this year. Of course I’m still a fan of the early 90s music scene. One thing I try to do with the CMF is involve every type of music that I can.

JB: What styles or genres can be expected this year?

CP: Friday night we have blues, reggae and metal. Saturday we have power pop, heavy metal, punk, grunge, garage. Almost everything but hip hop and country, and that was only because I wasn’t able to find a hip-hop or country band at the time.

JB: Which groups are you looking forward to most?

CP:The All Girl Boys Choir, featuring Alicia Warrington, who is originally from Saginaw, though she's been touring with the Gore Gore Girls, Kelly Osbourne, and Hannah Montana. She and Gore Gore Girls guitarist Marlene Hammerle make up the All Girl Boys Choir. Also looking forward to the Ruiners out of Detroit and the Fifth Story from Chicago.

Really, I'm looking forward to the whole thing. I don't think I booked a bad band to play the show. If a band approached me, I had to hear a demo before I booked them.

JB:What made 2010 the year to revive the Festival?

CP: I moved in '97 to the Lansing area, so I lost touched with everybody who had been involved with the original shows. Once I got on Facebook and Myspace, I started talking to all those people again. We started planning a tribute show for a friend who passed away, but once I started talking with Bo White and realized that an outdoor show was possible, I decided to bring back the Crispy Music Fest.

JB: Where does the name Crispy come from? I thought because the show is outside that it has to do with sunburns.

CP: This is actually the first time the Crispy Music Fest is outside. The "Crispy" of Crispy Music Fest came about as a joke because of my name, Chris P. When we were organizing the first show in 1992, myself and a friend of mine were working on the flyer when Jason Lightner came in and asked, "How's the Chris P. music fest going?" So we just decided, hey let's call it that.

It seems to be a name that attracts attention just because people are trying to figure out what it means. I've heard it called Rice Krispie Fest, and all kinds of things.

JB: Are you at all concerned the outdoor show might be rained out?

CP:If the weather gets too bad everything will move inside. But the stage is covered, so the show will happen rain or shine. And looking at the forecast, it supposed to be a beautiful weekend. We're pretty lucky about that.

JB: All proceeds of the festival are going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Why the MDA?

CP: Yeah, that’s a tradition that started in 1993. We—the people I was working with and myself—decided that we were going to do a benefit twice a year. At one of the first shows, we raised money for AIDS research and treatments. When we started Crispy, we decided MDA would be a good fit. The show was going to be in August, and that’s about the time the MDA usually does most of its fundraising. I do know a few people with MD, and I'm happy to help support them.

JB: What's the word on Crispy Fest 2011? And beyond?

CP: White's Bar and I are have already begun to discuss plans, but we're going to officially sit down after this show—after we take a week off to relax. I'm hoping for better sponsorship opportunities for next year, and we hope to put together a full committee. This year I did most of the organizing for the fest myself. I had some help from my friend April, but for the most part it was just me. Trying to work a full-time job and set up a two-day, 23-band show is a lot to juggle. I could certainly use a few more people to help, even if it's just reminding me to order shirts in time.

JB: How do you feel about going up against Taylor Hicks and the Pig Gig?

CP: Someone the other day joked about sending an invitation to Taylor Hicks, telling him to come out to see some real music. I say you can either see someone who a bunch of teenage girls voted in, or you can see 23 bands that all just really love music. The musicians have been playing for years, just because that’s what they want to do. The $5 ticket is for the entire two days of music, so come out for the full show.

Tickets for the Crispy Music Fest may be purchased online at The show gets underway at 6p.m. Friday with Scott Baker and the Universal Expressions. For a full line-up and more information visit the official Crispy Music Fest 2010 Facebook page.

© Jeremy Benson, 2010