MUSIC FESTIVAL: New wave of punk-flavored folk in spotlight at this year’s XFest

The band Black Horse Motel.
The band Black Horse Motel. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
The band Bath Salt Zombies.
The band Bath Salt Zombies.

IF YOU GO

What: The 17th annual XFest.

When: 7 to 10 p.m. June 9 and 1 to 10 p.m. June 10.

Where: Country Creek Winery, 133 Cressman Road, Salford Township.

Tickets: Visit www.xfsmusic.org or email xfsinfo@xfsmusic.org.

XFest’s edginess is back.

That’s according to new Xtreme Folk Scene president Damian Lynch, nephew of the music-loving group’s previous president, Kevin Lynch. Going over the individual acts of the upcoming, two-day public event at Montgomery County’s Country Creek Winery, he pointed out bands that play the acoustic instruments associated with folk music, but do so with a punk rock attitude and energy.

“We started with the mantra that we were going to go to the extreme side of folk. I felt that over the years, we lost some of that. As far as our vision, I think we’re getting back on track,” Lynch said.

One of the Saturday performers is a “hoodoo-grass” group from Florida called Bath Salt Zombies, a tongue-in-cheek reference to disturbing news reports of face-eating attacks by people under the influence of illegal psychoactive designer drugs.

“We considered other names for a time, but that was the attention-getter. It kind of acts as a filter; people that wouldn’t share our sense of humor wouldn’t book us,” said Bath Salt Zombies guitarist and vocalist Graham Woodard.

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They have one album of originals, one album of covers and are known to play twisted mashups of unrelated songs, such as The Ink Spots’ “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” and “Firestarter” by The Prodigy, or the Kermit the Frog hit “The Rainbow Connection” with the ‘80s metal classic “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio.

With a stage show accentuated by black light effects, sugar skull face paint and disappearing-skeleton costuming, Bath Salt Zombies have a presence on YouTube that led to them joining forces to tour with a similarly dark-humored band from the UK, Buffo’s Wake, who will also be performing at XFest Saturday evening. “All that hard work putting together videos works,” Woodard said, describing Buffo’s Wake as “a good, drinking-and-partying band.”

“I’ve been listening to (their album) ‘Carniphobia’ a bunch. I absolutely love it. These guys are going to be one of my new favorite bands,” Woodard said.

Taking the stage Friday June 9 will be New York City “anti-folk” punks Out of System Transfer, Jeremiah Tall and Black Horse Motel. Gates open at 4 p.m. and the last song will be followed by a bonfire in the camping area with Saturday performers The Jersey Corn Pickers.

Continuing an XFest tradition, Saturday June 10’s music begins with a strolling set from “Electric Man” Steve Perlsweig. Gates open at 11 a.m. and besides Bath Salt Zombies and Buffo’s Wake, the day’s music includes The Gene Smith Band; Goose Creek Pioneers; Troll 2; singer/songwriter Meghan Cary, who recently hosted a Philadelphia Folksong Society open mic. at the new PFS venue in Roxborough and played a free lunchtime concert in Fort Washington; Jersey Corn Pickers; Cousin Boneless, a band Lynch described as an ensemble of folk/punk buskers from Pittsburgh; and White Cheddar Boys. “It’s fronted by a guy who goes by the stage name of Huey and the Banjo. One of my favorite quotes from him is he says he just fell off the turnip truck,” Lynch said of White Cheddar Boys’ Huey West.

“We kinda aimed to be line with the Soggy Bottom Boys,” West said of his band’s name, referring to the bluegrass group in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

For XFest the bassist of Jersey Corn Pickers will join them on stage. “My buddy plays the washboard and a hard-shell suitcase with a kick pedal,” he said of his “percussive Appalachian tunes with ADHD.”

Philadelphia folk guru Gene Shay returns to emcee and both single-day and camping tickets will be available.

XFest also features vendors, crafts, food, coffee, wine and more (no outside alcohol allowed). “It’s right up our alley,” Woodard said of the Xtreme Folk Scene’s major annual event.

According to Lynch, despite being dampened by rain last year, more than 350 tickets were sold for 2016’s XFest.

Meghan Cary’s website called the festival “small but mighty.”