Back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I had the pleasure and sheer fun of playing in an acoustic trio, ROADKILL, in Dallas. It started out with Ed Kohorst (guitar, banjo, vocals) and Rob Tomsho (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocals) and me on guitar and vocals. We all sang and wrote. After Rob left the band, Ed and I asked Rick Barrick (guitar, mando, harmonica and vocals) to join, and that is the lineup you see in the attached video and photos.
All of us worked at The Dallas Morning News. Rick was a news editor. Ed was head of the news graphics department and I was a special projects writer on the Texas & Southwest desk. We came from different parts of the country and had different musical backgrounds, but our differences gelled into a shared musical vision that fit well into that era of Texas music.
We made some good music. We had a lot of energy and played some good gigs. We debuted at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas’ storied Deep Ellum, and we played Poor David’s Pub, one of the top folk/Americana/country venues in the U.S. One of the videos linked here is from 1989 when we played a festival in Dallas’ West End, opening for Texas music legend Steven Fromholz.
We played another place in Deep Ellum — I can’t recall the name, but it was an old 1920’s-era supper club — and we were an acoustic trio on the bill with thrash bands. Ed tells the story about taking the stage with acoustic guitars, mandolin and a banjo: “So we walk out on the stage…. The place was big and it was packed with seating right up to the stage and some fellow sitting in the front row exclaims loudly, ‘Oh great. F***ing Homer and Jethro!’ Undeterred, we did our set and won them over!”
I remember that gig because we were booked by the late Joe “Christ” Linhart (who later became an underground filmmaker, musician and artist of some note) and we had to literally run him down in the street after the gig to get our money. We were able to check “Corner the Promoter to Get Paid” off our Band Member Bingo card.
We had no trouble getting publicity photos since we worked in a building with world-class photographers; one of them, Evans Caglage, took the photos you see here. Graphic artist Bob Sheema designed our logo, which I still think is cool today. Looks great on a t-shirt. And John Ostdick, then a business editor at the paper, shot our “live” video during a show in Dallas’ West End.
We disbanded in 1990. I often joke we broke up over “artistic differences”; audiences wanted us to be artistic and we differed. But the fact is, the first Gulf War threw a wrench in our ability to schedule rehearsals or gigs. We were journalists first and music was a hobby. Rick and Ed had jobs critical to the production of the paper so their workload snowballed.
Looking back on the video decades later, I’m struck by how good the songs by Rick and Ed were and I wonder what we would’ve sounded like if we’d developed it further. But nothing lasts forever and we had fun while it lasted. Music should be fun, and it was a blast playing with these guys.