Rockin' With The Presidents: Chris Ballew Talks to The Chronicle About Upcoming Show at the Fair


    It’s one of the best entertainment deals in Lewis County: After buying a half-price ticket to admission at the Southwest Washington Fair on Friday, visitors can enjoy a free concert by the Grammy-nominated alternative rock band “Presidents of the United States of America” at 8 p.m.

    The event is sponsored by TransAlta, which will also pay for half the cost of admission for all fairgoers Friday, as part of “TransAlta Day” at the fair. The event is to celebrate the power company’s 100th anniversary and to say thank you to the community for its support through the years, according to TransAlta spokeswoman Angela DuPont.

    The Presidents are based out of Seattle. They enjoy celebrity status for such humorous hits during the 1990s as “Peaches,” “Kitty” and “Lump.”

    According to lead vocalist and guitarist Christopher Ballew, the band is looking forward to playing the fair Friday for many reasons, including turkey legs.

    “We are super excited to come play at the fairgrounds,” Ballew told The Chronicle by telephone Wednesday morning. “We love playing at fairs, and we love turkey legs and corn on the cob. And that really is the only reason we are playing, is for the turkey legs and corn on the cob,” he said, exposing the secret details of the Presidents contract with the fair: “In fact, we are being paid in turkey legs, corn on the cob and fried butter. So, we’re excited about that. We can’t wait to get our teeth into some fried butter.”

    In addition to Ballew of The Presidents, drummer Jason Finn and guitarist Andrew McKeag will also be on stage.

    Joining them is a special guest: Krist Novoselic, a co-founder of and bassist for the grunge band Nirvana. After the band broke up when lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, Novoselic went on to become a political activist and friend of Richard DeBolt of Chehalis, the top Republican in the state House of Representatives.

    DeBolt also works as community relations director for TransAlta, and when the power company decided to add its support to a big musical night at the fair, Novoselic’s name came up.

    “Krist wanted to be involved and we are going to be playing some pretty awesome songs,” Ballew said.

    The Presidents’ most recent release as a group was in 2008, with “These Are The Good Times People.” After their group fame in the ’90s, the band briefly broke up to pursue solo careers before coming together again and releasing five studio albums. Current band members also include original co-founder and business partner Dave Dederer, who will not be present at the fair Friday.

    The concert is part of the celebration at the Fair of TransAlta Day. TransAlta employees will host a booth with displays and activities about the company’s history and community, and information about how the company continues to restore the Centralia mine site.

    Other concerts and musical acts for the 2011 edition of the fair this week include Creedence Clearwater Revisited tonight at 8:30 p.m. (with two members of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival band), and on Saturday, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone at 8 p.m. Sunday will have Christian acts Ernie Haas and Signature Sound, with the two sisters of Sunflowerz.

    The Presidents were chosen to play by TransAlta due to their high profile yet local flavor. The concert will culminate with a fireworks show.

    “We are excited to come play and provide smiles for everybody down there and hope it is a fun night for everybody,” Ballew said.

    For more information on concerts and events at the Southwest Washington Fair, visit