Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MAGNOLIAS - "The Beat Farmers"

If you were to ask me when was the hey day of music in Sonoma County, the strongest surge of bands and clubs I would have to point my finger to the 80's. We had a thriving music scene consisting of some of the best intimate venues to play and work in. The Cotati Caberet, The Inn of the Beginning, The Studio KAFE, Garbo's, The River Theater in Gurneville, I was lucky to have a hand in most of these venues in one way or the other, but for me one has stood out over time... Magnolias!

 There were a lot of 1st's for me at this little rock palace, my 1st booking experiences, meeting up with The Cardiff Reefers and taking off for 3 years of regional touring, it's also the place where I met my wife Christine while she was attending at a Dr Loco and the Rockin Jalapeno Band show...  So many bands hit that little stage in Rail Road Square, I came in with a proposal to owner Scott Goree right after The Studio KAFE closed. I wanted to produce and engineer some of the great harder rock bands that I had been introduced to around the Bay area, bands like The Smokin Rhythm Prawns, KAI KLN, Blu Chunks and Disciples of Ed ( DOE). I set up a Hard Rock Thursday night and got started... 3 bands a night $10 cover, cheap beer. I maintained the Thursday Night party for over a year and I hosted some real up and coming acts like Green Day and Primus. I booked the acts with an edge and Scott booked the cover bands and the perennial favorites like Roy Rodgers, Dave & Phil Alvin's "The Blasters" and one of my all time favorite bands... "The Beat Farmers". I've chosen to start this chapter with a short recall of one of nights with San Diego's Beat Farmers only because when I'm asked what does it take to make a good band, my reply has always been "honesty" and that's exactly what the Farmers brought to the table.

Rough, rude and overly honest front man Country Dick Montana's persona was a mix of Johnny Cash and Burl Ives fueled by beer and a quick trip to the bar. I'd tremble every time when I saw the advance comes across my schedule because I knew what it was like to stage a Beat Farmer show.  I'd have to run to the hardware store for some lite plastic visqueen and then cover all of the stage monitors because getting the stage and the band soaked with beer was all in a nights show. All of my lighting packs and amp racks had to be secured from the guaranteed onslaught of beer throwing carnage! Did it make a huge mess? hell yea and it made a hell of a lot of money too! For every pitcher of beer that was sold to drink there was another one bought at the same time just to throw on the band!

Dick would stand center stage with his cowboy hat on and a beer in his hand and lead the audience in song and story down a cowpunk trail of rock and roll debauchery as only he could tell it. The band that consisted of Jerry Raney, Joey Harris, Buddy Blue and Rolle Dexter Love would lead off into some  foundation for one of Dick's tall tales. Perhaps it was "California Kid" or their hit "Happy Boy" with a loyal chorus of juice-harps that endeared them to fans all around the Country or maybe it was just the way Dick could sing a raunchy tale while fronting a band. One of his antics on stage was to admit to the audience at some giving point of the set that it was time to "TAKE ME TO THE BAR"! Dick would then turn around and fall backwards into the arms of the audience, a reverse stage dive... now this got to be a dangerous trick if it was done to late in the evening as you might guess. After falling backwards Dick would be carried by the audience directly to the bar where he would be laid flat on his back as the owner, Scott would pound a few well deserved shots into Dick where he would then proclaim... "BACK TO THE STAGE"... the audience would once again pick him up and carry him back towards the stage. Somewhere along the way you'd hear Dick say "PUT ME DOWN GOD DAMMIT PUT ME DOWN" "I think that it's time for some campfire songs... everybody grab a beer and sit down"! The bar would get a quick surge of beer sales again as everyone else sat down on the sloppy floor for some raunchy campfire songs!

With beer mugs in hand and waving them in song and celebration Dick would sang the raunchiest versions of songs like "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Green Acres" as the band pounded out the back track to his story telling. After 15 or 20 minutes of solid drunken story and song, Dick would call the campfire session over and makes his way back to the stage, often with the help of the audience to resume the set.
As if The Beat Farmers presence wasn't already spectacle enough, and just when you think that this kind of performance couldn't  go on long much longer in this state of mind, you find yourself wrong! Despite any condition that Dick might have been in 10 minutes earlier he would again take the stage, seat himself behind the drum set and slam the band through some more great high energy American Rock songs in the vein of The Replacements or The Blasters. I had the pleasure of working with the band as Mags House Engineer through the later 80's and always had a great time with them and their Tour Engineer Tom Ames, I had a lot of respect for this band, there solid song writing, sense of humor and irreverence were completely honest and their audience recognized that fact. 3 high 5's and a hearty cheer to Country Dick Montana (RIP) and the boys!

see: Country Dicks Rules of the Road

These stories consist of rough drafts that will be proof read and finalized
before being included in "Another Day Another Decibel"

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