You Say It's Your Birthday: Presidents of the U.S.A's Chris Ballew

Today is the birthday of Chris Ballew, vocalist and

bassist for the Presidents of the United States of America. The Presidents'

power-pop has become a favorite of alternative radio in the past few years with

off-the-wall singles like "Lump" and "Peaches." The trio began when Ballew and

guitarist Dave Dederer met in a Seattle grade school; they began jamming

together in the mid-1980s and by 1991 were playing shows around the Seattle

area. Drummer Jason Finn met up with them during this time and was added to the

lineup in 1993.

The Presidents' self-titled debut was originally recorded

for Seattle's PopLlama label, but when they signed with Columbia the record was

remastered and rereleased, in 1995, on the new label. With the power of

infectious hits like "Lump," "Kitty" and "Peaches" the album became a top-10

seller. During their tour the Presidents made a point of playing oddball

venues, including a hot dog stand in Los Angeles, a Chicago bowling alley, and

Mount Rushmore. Their sophomore album, II, was released in late 1996 to

a lukewarm welcome, despite MTV's incessant plugging of the video for "Mach 5."

Other birthdays: Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals), Steve Strange, Kylie

Minogue, T-Bone Walker, Mike Heidorn (Son Volt), Roy Crewdson (Freddie & The

Dreamers), Gladys Knight, Billy Vera, John Fogerty, Gary Broker (Procrol

Harum), Larry Blackmon (Cameo), Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics) and James Bond

creator Ian Fleming. -- Beth Winegarner