Bim Skala Bim and The Toasters both formed in the summer of 1983, apparently within about a month of each other. The only other band from this period that still seems to be around is Mr. Review from the Netherlands. Here is the earliest known photo of Bim from August of 1983


Bim Skala Bim formed in July of this year and played their first gig two weeks later.

The lineup at that time was:

  • Dan Vitale: Lead Vocals
  • Mark Ferranti: Bass
  • John Ferry: Trombone, Vocals
  • Chris Kramtch: Drums
  • Ephraim LaSalle: Guitar
  • Robin Ducot: Keyboards
  • During the band's first year, Chris Kramtch was replaced on drums by John Sullivan and Ephraim was replaced by Will Cluster.

    In October 1984, the band took ten months off before reforming the following August. They didn't have a steady drummer at first, but rehearsed for about a month with Jay Potts, later of Big Catholic Guilt and Cobalt 60. They found Jim Arhelger through a classified ad in the Boston Phoenix and the following lineup recorded their first album in October:
  • Dan Vitale: Lead Vocals
  • Lauren Fleischer: Lead Vocals
  • Jim Arhelger: Drums
  • John Cameron: Keyboard, Sax
  • Mark Ferranti: Bass
  • John Ferry: Trombone, Vocals
  • Jim Jones: Guitar
  • The same month that the album was recorded, Lauren left the band. Jackie Starr joined in December.

    During this period, and on the first album, the band was also augmented by Ken Field, Sax; Ken Winokur, percussion (currently a member of Concussion Ensemble and the Alloy Orchestra) and Rick Barry, percussion (Rick joined the band as a permanent member in October 1986).

    In April, Bim Skala Bim was released on the band's own Fonograff Records (it was later released in the UK under the name Boston Bluebeat). Founding trombonist John Ferry left during this period and was replaced in September by Vince Nobile, the most recent band member to join (John Ferry later founded and left the Heavy Metal Horns, and is currently a member of Gangster Fun). By the end of 1986, the band had achieved their "classic" configuration:

  • Dan Vitale: Lead Vocals
  • Jackie Starr: Lead Vocals, Keyboards
  • Jim Arhelger: Drums
  • Rick Barry: Percussion
  • John Cameron: Keyboards, Sax
  • Mark Ferranti: Bass
  • Jim Jones: Guitar, Vocals
  • Vince Nobile: Trombone
  • Around this time (prior to recording Tuba City, the band recorded a few songs with legendary producer Jimmy Miller (Traffic, Rolling Stones, Blind Faith, et al). A single was released of "Edge of a Knife" and "Fathead".

    Razorbeat Records (the band's latest label) put out Mash It Up, a compilation of Boston ska bands. Highlights of this hard-to-find relic include Bim's "Veil of Sadness" (unavailable elsewhere) and early recordings of concert staples "Tell Me" and "I Took a Fall" (recorded with Jackie on vocals). The album also features local live favorites Plate O' Shrimp and the first vinyl appearance of the (not yet Mighty Mighty) Bosstones doing "The Cave." Mash It Up was released in England on Oi/Ska Records as Skaville USA Vol. 2.

    Bim's second album, Tuba City, was released as the band continued touring steadily. The album featured Roland Alphonso's saxophone on "Groucho go Ska" and Bim favorites such as "Bangin'" and "Fathead." Unfortunately, it is currently (April 1995) being pressed illegally in Holland and sold by Celluloid; all the CD copies currently available are "bootlegs" and the band isn't getting a penny.

    Razorbeat released the first volume of Mashin' Up The Nation, a national ska compilation featuring live Bim from CBGB's along with the Bosstones, Bop (Harvey), the NY Citizens, Let's Go Bowling, and proto-Toasters Not Bob Marley. Unfortunately, that year also saw the departure of singer Jackie Starr from Bim. Jackie moved to southern California where she joined the Donkey Show for two or three months and is now a member of Contra Guerra.

    The band decided not to replace Jackie, so Jim Jones picked up a lot of her vocal parts, as well as writing his own songs. This year saw the release of How's It Goin'?, a mix of older material ("I Took a Fall" dates back to 1985) and newer compositions which is in my humble opinion their best album overall (although most of the "old fans" prefer the first). This album also saw the first use of the Bib records logo, but not the name. How's It Goin'? was released on the capitalization-challenged uNsiGnEd ReCoRDs. They continued to tour heavily, not beginning to record their next album until 1992.

    In the fall, after the Bim recorded Bones, John Cameron became a part-time member, playing only a few shows each year with the band. Bones was the first release on Bib records. Since then, Vinnie has started playing keyboards onstage in addition to trombone, and the band has been occasionally supplemented on saxophone, first by Chuck Papert of Who's Kidding Who.

    The band released Live At The Paradise on Bib, which was recorded the previous year with the full band. As usual, the band toured heavily, although the members were also starting to work on side projects such as Steady Earnest, Elevator (now the Joint Chiefs) and Santa (now apparently defunct).

    In the summer of '94, as Bim was writing material for their upcoming album, John Cameron returned as a semi-regular member. For much of the rest of the year, the band was augmented by Darrell Morrow (of Steady Earnest and the Allstonians). Darrell also appeared on the version of "Simple Song" released on Mash it Up Vol. III, which was released in November.

    The band released Eyes and Ears, their fifth studio album, in January. Word has it that John Cameron has moved back to Boston for good, and the lineup remains
  • Jim Arhelger: Drums
  • Rick Barry: Percussion
  • John Cameron: Keyboards, Sax
  • Mark Ferranti: Bass
  • Jim Jones: Guitar, Vocals
  • Vince Nobile: Trombone, vocals
  • Dan Vitale: Vocals
  • A new Bim compilation is released in Europe, called American Playhouse, which consists of songs from their last three studio albums. They returned from their first full-scale European tour at the end of July. Bim goes back to Europe in november and tours with ska greats Bad Manners having played from Edinbrough to Barcelona and Bordeaux to Luzern.

    The year starts with a tour of CA with the fledgling Real Big Fish. Both Rick and Vinny were to leave the band this year and Bim held its first auditions in over ten years.Vinny plays untill September when he is replaced by Mark Paquin. The band spends the remainder of the year working on material for a new album and working in the new trombone player.Vinny Nobile goes on to form The Pilfers.

    The band enters the studio on Jan 3 and has finished product in hand by the second week of March.Universal turns into a very succesful record landing the band a opening slot for the Bosstones at Great Woods in Mansfield MA. Much of Bims catalog is picked up by MTVs Road Rules and Real World cable series. A Summer of outdoor shows ends with Bim being picked up for a fall tour with The Bosstones , Amazing Royal Crowns, and Dropkick Murphys. The "Boston on the Road" tour reaches 45 cities in 50 days and is the bands first experiance with a "tour" bus. The tour is followed up by a tour of Florida with The Toasters.

    Beatville Records releases The One That Got Away a collection of unreleased tracks reaching back as far as the Tuba City album. Bim goes on the road in the spring with The Eclectics traveling from Corpus Christi up through Chicago and the mid west. Later that fall bim hits the road again traveling throughout the west with Unsteady reaching from San Diago up to Missoula MT. Mark Paquin leaves the band in December and John Ferry is brought back in to fill in the role of trombone ounce again.

    Again the band spends time getting the new trombone up to speed and working on new material. Bim enters the studio in April and records 8 songs two of which appear on theTest Patterns CD ROM released at the end of the year.The summer would bring Bim down to play in Guadalahara and Mexico City and later that fall back to Europe to play the Netherlands, Germany, and England. In December John Ferry leaves the band and bim starts to play with a roster of players. John Cameron leaves the band again.

    New years day has Bim playing wth Vinny Nobile in boston for the first time in 4 years and later in June Vinny would go back into the studio to finish up tracks for a new album to be released by Beatville. Dave Butts takes over the role of keyboards and saxaphone. Walt Bostian and Eric handle trombone. Krinkle, bim's ninth album is released in September........

    Bim continues to perform around the Boston and New England area..The summer finds Bim playing down in Venezuela in front of thousands in Caracas. The summer winds down with a great bummer of a national experiance..thats leads quickly into economic doldrums...and a big downturn in the whole club scene..We play down in New York just before new years with Vinny and down on Cape Cod for new years.

    Bims schedule is somewhat lighter for the spring this year and summer finds us playing our usual haunts.. The Beachcomber and Johnny D's (for the first time in almost 10 years with vinny) and a great summer festival in Oswego. Jim Jones our guitar player annouces he is moving to Los Angeles and so Bim sets up a final series of shows around Boston leading up to New Years down on Cape Cod.

    This years has brought little news for you so far...Jim is out west and we are in hibernation.

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