Topical material took a humorous twist with the music of the Southern California-based band the Foremen. Dressing in suits and ties and singing in the folk group-harmony style of the Kingston Trio and the Limeliters, the Foremen offered a witty, hard-edged look at contemporary American politics. The group's sense of humor made them popular with audiences of all political persuasions, and they performed at the presidential conventions of both parties in 1996. Their song "Ollie Ollie Off Scott Free" was heard on Oliver North's syndicated radio show in February 1996, while their anthemic ditty "Ain't No Liberal" became the unofficial theme song of the new conservatives.
The concept of the Foremen was conceived by the band's leader and songwriter Roy Zimmerman when he discovered an album by the Wayfarers in a record store bargain bin. Inspired to create a band to parody the folk tradition, Zimmerman recruited multi-instrumentalist Doug Whitney and upright bass player Andrew Corwin. After releasing a live album, Sing It Loud, on Metaphor, a label owned by Zimmerman and his wife, the Foremen were heard at a party by Jim Ed Newman, the head of the Warner/Nashville label. Newman was so impressed by what he heard that he signed the group to a recording contract with Warner Brothers' Reprise subsidiary and co-produced two albums: Folk Heroes, which continued the Foremen's early folk-revival approach, and What's Left, which added elements of Southern California pop and rock. Neither album, however, proved commercially successful, and Zimmerman left the band. Although the Foremen continued to perform, they've done very little since his departure. ~ Craig Harris