In the summer of 1983, Dan McLain approached Jerry Raney about forming a band. Raney, a guitarist, was fresh out of the Shames. McLain, who used the name Country Dick Montana both on and offstage, was already a veteran of such bands as the Crawdaddies and the Penetrators. With Bernard Seigal (Buddy Blue) and bassist Rolle Love, they called themselves the Beat Farmers. They were a hit. By 1985, their first album on Rhino got them comparison with the Beatles. When Blue left the following year, Joey Harris replaced him, and the band’s sound was changed. Most writers labeled the San Diego band cow punk, but the Beat Farmers possessed three musical identities: rock, chicken-fried pop, and Montana’s raunchy locker-room humor. When Country Dick died in 1995, the band came to an end. Raney and Harris would resurface later in Powerthud, and in 2005 Jerry Raney, Rolle Love, and Buddy Blue (with ex-Penetrator Joel Kmak on drums) once again began to play shows together. They called themselves the Farmers. But the reunion was short-lived — Blue died in 2006.
Today, the Farmers survive as Raney and Kmak with Corbin Turner and another ex-Penetrator named Chris Sullivan. The Farmers have written new songs and have plans to record, but they still play a lot of old Beat Farmers favorites in performance, and, truth be told, they sound a lot like the Beat Farmers. Why not just reprise the old name? Raney says he has mixed feelings about going there.
“Considering that now I’m the only one in the band that was in the Beat Farmers, it would be kinda strange to use the Beat Farmers name. But it would probably have been okay back when there were three of us.” Kmak adds, “We’re not trying to capitalize on anything. We still do the old songs because we love ’em.”
The Knitters also perform.
FARMERS, Belly Up Tavern, Thursday, January 15, 8 p.m. 858-481-8140. $20; $22 day of show.