Sunday, March 30, 2014

Early 80's Archival Photos from the Collection of Travis Ballou

L to R: Gary Hall, Travis "Kim" Ballou, Ashley Bell (in tree), Scott Brookman.

The original membership of my best known early band*, the Poisonous Sewer Fish, included Joey Cheatham (who wrote most of the originals, played guitar, and snarled his vocals), myself, Ashley Bell (at first on an early monophonic Roland, i.e. no chords, only single notes. See photo below), and usually two drummers: Gary Hall and Roger Lawrence. There was no bass player. It was very, very loud.   *there were earlier iterations with me, Joey and Roger only under a different name.

This week Travis Ballou unearthed two photos of the next version of the Poisonous Sewer Fish. We might call it PSF MK II. Joey left, or was more likely thrown out, I guess Roger lost interest, and we became a more normal line-up adding Travis on bass. I guess that made me principal songwriter. Maybe. I think the loud experimental stuff probably continued as did the random covers. Both versions of this band mostly practiced. The very few gigs may have been years apart. There were and are a lot of recordings, though.

Below I've adapted email between Travis and myself earlier this week into a Q and A, or an S and T.

S: Wow. I have copies of these myself somewhere. Is this a post-Joey edition of the Poisonous Sewer Fish, or were we called something else?
T: I was hoping you would know. I think it was the PSF post Joe. I seem to remember that we stopped playing after the photo. Go figure?
S: I don't think we stopped playing then. And this dates from ca. early to mid 80's, right?
T:  '80 or '81 I'm sure. It does not show in the digital images but by handling the actual prints (paper type) and the contrast I can tell I processed them at college. Judging by the lack of foliage it was the fall of '80 or the spring/fall of 81.
S: These will go on my blog very soon, sir. Thank you sincerely. Got any more? Of any band from that era.
T: I found these while going through the correspondence I inherited from my Father. Nothing else that I know of from that era but if I find anything of interest I'll post it to you.
S: They can always go on the Chuck blog if I'm not involved.Pocket Fishermen? Dumbsters?
T: Pocket Fishemen, cool name, escapes my memory: The Dumbsters - That was me, Joe and Kent (Musselman). Don't think we ever played out. The Dumbsters was an evolution of The X Fish which was Joe and I getting together on summer break, writing songs and getting Kent to drum. Around '83  Joe, Ashley, Kent and myself formed Holy Moly. An ambitious concept of a ska band in the Roanoke Valley. We did play out in a club in Cave Spring. No photos that I know of. I did have a cassette of The X Fish (basement mix) and Holy Moly live! Unfortunately, I think it self-destructed the last time I tried to play it.
S:This is why I haven't put Troy is Queer online for purchase at Bandcamp. I am afraid the tape will unspool and crinkle as I play it. Too bad because that one was really Joey's masterpiece, his meisterwerk in the area of his layered tape sound and absolute obnoxiousness. 
Same day in 1980 or 1981. The Bell family backyard in Salem. The bridge crosses a little creek. The open field behind us has a delightful pool in it now. Yes, I am holding a Rickenbacker. It sucked. 


  1. HOLY MOLY! No pun intended! I don't remember having those pics taken and I have never before seen them! WOW! thanks for posting these. Who took them?

    1. That, sir, is indeed a mystery.

    2. Timer on Kim's 35 mm camera? yer pal Bill H.

  2. I couldn't believe I could recognize those faces at Kim's Memorial.