Joel Kmak: Drums

Genre: Blues & Soul, Country, Rock, Rockabilly

RIYL: The Beat Farmers, the Farmers, Manual Scan, the Penetrators

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Influences: Ginger Baker, Buddy Rich, Nick Mason, Ringo Starr


Drummer Joel Kmak first came to local notice with the Penetrators, co-founded with guitarist Scott Harrington, and then the Crawdaddys. He was in Powerthud too, with his brother Jef, who sings and plays bass in Joey Harris and the Mentals and in the Seventh Day Buskers.

The Penetrators turned up frequently in the late 1970s at SD punk venues like downtown's Skeleton Club, earning their big break in 1978 by opening for the Ramones at SDSU's Montezuma Hall, even though original guitarist Scott Harrington quit over the gig, feeling the band wasn't ready.

Chris Davies replaced Harrington, having learned the songs by sneaking a tape recorder into Penetrators' concerts. Gary Heffern (Monotone & the Nucleoids) joined up, as did keyboardist-turned-drummer Dan McLain, aka Country Dick Montana, who operated Monty Rockers Records on El Cajon Boulevard and replaced Kmak. At that point, Kmak had already joined the Hitmakers (and he would later be a Beat Farmer).

After the Beat Farmers, Kmak covered the kit for the Farmers, comprised of surviving members of the original band.

In 2010, before the annual Country Dick/Buddy Blue fest at the Belly Up, Kmak recalls “During sound check, Mojo Nixon says to me 'We gotta practice the Helicopter.' I say 'Whats that?' He says 'It's where I pick you up and spin you around as I hold you over my head. Country Dick and I used to do it and, even though I'm older, you’re smaller and weigh less than he did, so we should be fine.' I say no way! But onstage in the middle of a song, he calls me out, so what else could I do? I lived to tell the tale. It's even on YouTube somewhere.”

In 2011, Kmak's nephew Josh Kmak (aka Joshua Scott and Josh Duhs) cofounded a teen band called the Nformals, before later hooking up with the band Shady Francos. Johnny Kmak, Josh’s dad likewise played music but took it in a different direction. In the 1990s he formed Johnny and the Goiters, as such dedicated to becoming the worst beer bar band ever, a pursuit that some say was successful.

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