Are You Drinkin' With Me, Jesus?
November 6, 2005 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Pay Up, Cheaters! The Story of the Beat Farmers (QT trailer for as-yet unreleased DVD, Jamie Dawson, director)
Pour yourself a shot of Jäger and gather round the campfire, boys and girls, it's time for testifyin'. Tonight I present the cautionary tale of a big, kind-hearted stink-ape of a man, Country Dick Montana, who spent his short life as the Master of Ceremonies for a neverending party. He played drums, guitar and sang in The Beat Farmers, a legendary Southern California roots rock (embedded RealVideo) band proud of its fans' ability to make bar cash registers explode. Too country for rock radio, too rock for country radio, they could fill any showroom, but their only airplay outside San Diego consisted of ditties (embedded RealVideo) played by Dr. Demento; not exactly the recognition one would hope to receive. [more inside]
posted by planetkyoto (27 comments total)
[continued from front page]
It all ended for Country Dick one night exactly 10 years ago this week, Nov. 8, 1995. After stepping out front to sing a song from their new album, our American Antihero moved back to the drum riser for a couple more tunes, then something went very wrong. When his bandmates looked back, he was slumped over the drumkit. His big pickled heart, dispossessed, had stopped. Country Dick Montana was dead at the age of 40. He had just finished his first solo CD, which was released posthumously.

Tonight (Nov. 7), friends and (only some) former bandmates gather for a 10-year memorial party.
Where are they now?

posted by jessamyn at 10:02 AM on November 6, 2005

The Beat Farmers rocked. Nice post.

Did Country Dick Montana ever sing with Handsome Dick Manitoba? That would be a double-dicking I could approve of.
posted by jonmc at 10:10 AM on November 6, 2005

Someone didn't close their "small" tag, I'm thinkin'.
posted by SPrintF at 10:15 AM on November 6, 2005

No, I intentionally did everything after the title link in small, because it was somewhat long (you should have seen it before I cut it down).
posted by planetkyoto at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2005

judging from the way the homepage looks from this post down, I reckin you're right.
posted by thanatogenous at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2005

Dear god, that's it. I was wondering what was up with the front page.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:33 AM on November 6, 2005

Yikes! Half of the post was moved inside, including the [/small] closing tag.
posted by planetkyoto at 10:37 AM on November 6, 2005

The Beat Farmers were incredible. I wore the grooves off Tales of the New West (I should really get a CD), and one of my proudest concert memories is of helping to support Country Dick when he took it into his bedrunken head to dive out into the crowd and swim the human sea. Thanks for this post, and the memories!

I'm a happy boy...
posted by languagehat at 11:01 AM on November 6, 2005

Mod note: sorry about the small tag, fixed now
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:08 AM on November 6, 2005

I saw the Beat Farmers several, several times during my college years... great live shows, well known for massive amounts of booze.

Probably my most vivid memory of him was when he was playing with Mojo Nixon and the Frontier (F'ing) Wives at the Cactus Club in San Jose back in the early 90s. He was dressed in a black leather hat and a long black leather duster, like some sort of debauched cowboy, and he and Mojo were drinking straight from a large bottle of gin onstage, which Montana sloshed liberally on those of us near the front of the stage.

That was okay, however, because you literally couldn't avoid all the shook-up beer, etc. Everything was wet, alcohol-sodden, and as sticky as the floor of a movie theatre.

What wasn't okay was when he tried to get on my back and get a piggyback ride. No offense, but no way in hell was I going to do it... the guy was damn big!
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:33 AM on November 6, 2005

Great post. I used to watch them when I lived in San Diego. Too much fun, too much fun.
posted by Samizdata at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2005

Theres no dark mood that couldn't be lifted with the sounds of Happy Boy coming out of my radio.

hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

For some reason I always imagined that being sung by an English bulldog.

great post. I want to see this.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:53 PM on November 6, 2005

this is just great!
posted by nola at 1:05 PM on November 6, 2005

That Vinerepylenoma trailer, all by itself, explained so much to me.
posted by dhartung at 2:14 PM on November 6, 2005

YES! Been waiting for this for a long time...
posted by shecky57 at 2:27 PM on November 6, 2005

but their only airplay outside San Diego consisted of ditties (embedded RealVideo) played by Dr. Demento

idunno about that. out here on the east cost, the beat farmers were mid-80s college radio staples.
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:14 PM on November 6, 2005

The Beat Farmers used to be regulars at the 'Dew Drop Inn' located at the base of Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley, where I grew up. Sounds quaint don't it?
posted by Mr T at 4:05 PM on November 6, 2005

Yay! Tales of the New West was great fun when it came out. I remember it came with an issue of the "Beat Farmers' Almanac." You can see some issues of it here.
posted by marxchivist at 4:26 PM on November 6, 2005

So are they like, an American version of The Wurzels?

They're all about the West Country, as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:55 PM on November 6, 2005

Probably my most vivid memory of him was when he was playing with Mojo Nixon and the Frontier (F'ing) Wives at the Cactus Club in San Jose back in the early 90s.

insomnia_lj, I was at that show as well.

Although I think my absolute favorite shows involving Country Dick Montana was the tour with Mojo Nixon and Dave Alvin as the Pleasure Barons. I was friends with their drummer, so I saw them as many times as they played in the Bay Area (and Sacramento).
posted by oneirodynia at 5:10 PM on November 6, 2005

Yeah, that first Pleasure Barons tour was freaking awesome. I caught that show at that old theater in Sacramento on the K street mall. The second tour I saw at Slim's in San Francisco. I don't know if they were tired or what, but they just didn't have the energy, though John Doe was a nice addition. I think my favorite Beat Farmer show was in Santa Rose. My roommate and I got there early so we went upstairs in this little club/radio station and there they were. After BSing for a bit with them, and encouraging a second Pleasure Barons tour (which Dick definitely agreed to) Dick declared us winners and gave us the remains of the cold cut and vegetable platters they were noshing on pre show. They went on to give a great show, and the bar ran out of beer.
posted by Eekacat at 5:21 PM on November 6, 2005

Please ignore the previous misspellings and all that. It's a Cosmopolitan night tonight.
posted by Eekacat at 5:22 PM on November 6, 2005

Thanks for this post. I never knew about the Beat Farmers, and I guess I didn't hear about Country Dick until not long before he died, when I went from the top of New England all the way out to Oregon and a friend had just gone to see the Pleasure Barons. (Country Dick was definitely the Baron who was most out for pleasure.) I immediately loved their Live in Las Vegas CD, especially the Tom Jones medley. Definitely not just another band from CA.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:20 PM on November 6, 2005

I've used "Are You Drinkin' with Me Jesus?" as the "keeper" test for new boyfriends. If they couldn't appreciate the sheer beauty of that song, they weren't worth keepin'.
posted by xena at 5:09 AM on November 7, 2005

Languagehat, the Rhino Handmade label remastered Tales of the New West and added the Glad & Greasy album as well as several other goodies. It's at least double the original length.

Insomnia lj, carrying Country Dick to the bar at the back of the Belly Up Tavern in SD is one of my fondest memories. He had just come back from thyroid cancer surgery, having had the lymph nodes stripped out of his neck and chemo/radiation (I think it was his first show back, but they didn't say anything about it), and he sang Lucille beautifully in his basso profundo estupido. He just leapt off the stage and about five of us caught him and carried him to the bar for his customary shot of Jager. I don't think I would have been able to do it alone, either.

3.2.3 You're right about college radio, of course. My university didn't have a radio station, so I didn't think of that until a couple hours after I posted.

Marxchivist, Thanks for that link, because I thought those pages were offline; I hadn't seen them in a few years. Dick actually drew and wrote those himself, as well as the sloppy script for the band name logo.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:12 AM on November 7, 2005

The guy who ran the local Record Bar in Statesville, N.C., turned me on to "Tales of the New West" in 1984, and I played that cassette 'til it fell apart. That opening 1-2-3 punch -- "Bigger Stones," Lou Reed's "There She Goes Again" and Springsteen's "Reason to Believe" Just. Kicked. Ass. And, interestingly enough, "Where Do They Go," my father said, perfectly captured his high-school years in the N.C. mountains in the late 1940s (except for the part about watching MTV, of course).

Raise one, folks, to a great band.
posted by lexalexander at 11:06 AM on November 7, 2005

Great post, lots of good memories in there. Thank you!
posted by ktoad at 4:07 PM on November 7, 2005

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