If there were a rock-and-roll Hall of Fame for locals only, Joey Harris would be in it. The Beat Farmers is as good a place as any to begin the story. The band was founded in the ’80s by Jerry Raney, Rollie Love, Buddy Blue, and Country Dick Montana, and when Blue dropped out, Harris stepped in. His writing and singing catalyzed the group and helped nudge them into the national spotlight. They had a long, successful run and would likely still be around today had Country Dick not died suddenly. “After the Beat Farmers, I wanted to get right back into it,” says Harris. He calls 1995 to 2005 his lost years. “I tried to keep the party going, and I burned bridges all over the place.” He’s okay now. “I’m very sober — not completely sober, but very sober, which is pretty damned sober. Especially for me.”
These days Harris keeps busy with a rockabilly-ish side project with Mudsharks’ Scottie Blinn and Tom Essa called Slim & the Crowbars. He also makes guest appearances onstage and in the studio with area bands like alt-country Tornado Magnets. And then there is his main group, Joey Harris & the Mentals, with Mighty Joe Longa, Jef Kmak, and Josh Mader.
The Mentals are the core membership of the long-gone Powerthud, a post–Beat Farmers band that at one time featured the twin-guitar magic of Harris and Raney. “I have deep respect for him,” Harris says of Raney. After Powerthud, Harris went on to a concept band he called the Joey Show before starting the Mentals. “The more time passes, the more I appreciate good, solid, crazy rock and roll. And that’s what this is. It’s more fun now than it has ever been.”
Spare Parts for Broken Hearts also performs.
JOEY HARRIS & THE MENTALS: Bar Pink, Friday, March 18, 10 p.m. 619-564-7194.