When LOM returned to Houston from India in 1987, former Chronicle
music critic Marty Racine became near-religious reading for me. I couldn't wait for his Thursday "Critic's Picks" column so I could plan my musical weekend. I learned about all kinds of below-the-radar bands from Racine: Mojo Nixon, Storyville, The Iguanas, C.C. Adcock, Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs. But the best band Racine ever steered me towards was the Beat Farmers.
I was lucky enough to see the Farmers at Fitzgerald's a couple of times, and both times the scene was just pandemonium. The second time, the place was crawling with vice cops who had learned that women were prone to exposing their upper torsos at Farmers shows.
Then they began to play the Fabulous Satellite Lounge. Their gig there on a double bill with the Blasters is one of the highlight concerts in my memory. But I also remember a poorly attended Wednesday-night gig with The Paladins where both bands tore the place up the same as they would have if they'd been playing the Astrodome.
But drummer Country Dick Montana's rock and roll death - he had a heart attack and died onstage during a set in Whistler, B.C. - finally brought the Farmers to a screeching halt.
Afterwards, guitarist Jerry Raney - who once autographed a show ticket for my son with the simple words "don't grow up to be like Country Dick" - put a band together called Powerthud that included other Farmers alumni. They released the extremely underappreciated Wide
The other guitarist, Joey Harris, eventually formed Joey Harris and the Mentals, and it warms Lonesome, Onry and Mean's heart that the band is set to release a new record. It warms it even more that Joey and his crew are keeping the old Beat Farmers song catalog alive with covers of "Ridin," "Rosey," "God Is Here Tonight," "Southern Cross" and the always popular "Hollywood Hills."
Here is the Mentals' MySpace site
. I'd say check out "Little Boy," because it is that pure Beat Farmers rock thing that Racine once compared to the Rolling Stones. But hell, if you're a rocker, you'll want to check 'em all out because these guys just get it right.
Long live Country Dick Montana.