The Beat Farmers’ Country Dick Montana offers tips for men and insight into The Pursuit of Happiness



By Steve Newton

Devoted fans of serious music should make a point of being as far away as possible from the 86 Street Music Hall this Tuesday (November 10). However, those with less cultivated tastes–and a penchant for rowdy, party-time country rock with a twist–will find San Diego’s Beat Farmers right up their alley.

The Beat Farmers are not a serious band, by any stretch of the imagination. While most bands’ bio sheets boast raving quotations from critics and even more raving raves from record company bio writers, these guys have their own six-page Beat Farmers Almanac. In the cover’s top right-hand corner it says “$1.50 Value”, and in the left, “Pay-Up Cheaters”. Inside are lists of Social Do’s and Don’ts, which include “Tips for Men” (“Remember to leave the toilet set in the ‘up’ position when you’re done peeing on it”) and “Tips for Women” (“Tell him that his air-guitar playing gets you ‘hot’ “).

These invaluable bits of advice are the handiwork of Country Dick Montana, the group’s deep-voiced, biker-sized drummer. He’s the one that puts a touch of Maclean & Maclean in the Beat Farmers’ totally decent country-rock sound. Miss Manners he ain’t, but where would rock be without a little rudeness?

“A born sleazeball”, as the Almanac says, Dick claims to have been raised in Memphis by his carny father and sideshow-attraction mother who, due to her extremely low voice, was billed as “The Amazing Frog Woman”. His father later became road manager for such acts as Gene Pitney, Marty Robbins, and Sugarloaf, and young Dick accompanied the elder Montana on the road, crisscrossing the country.

“It certainly taught me how to adapt to road life,” says Montana, on the line from San Diego. “It was a good experience…not necessarily healthy, though.”

In the early ’80s, Country Dick formed Country Dick and the Snuggle Bunnies, which also included Skid Roper (of Skid Roper & Mojo Nixon fame). That outfit was a “rowdy, roadhouse country & western free-for-all,” according to the Almanac, “that was allowed to roam the Southwest until an incident in Yuma resulted in Dick’s removal from circulation in early ’83.” And what incident was that, queried the curious rock reporter?

“Ummmm…broke a guy’s leg,” says Dick. “He was askin’ for it, though.”

When he got back into circulation, Montana hooked up with what would become the Beat Farmers: lead vocalist/lead guitarist Jerry Raney, bassist Rolle Love (a.k.a. Dexter), and guitarist Buddy Blue. The band released one of the strongest guitar-rock albums of 1986 with Van Go, which sported an endearing version of Neil Young’s 1979 gem “Powderfinger”.

Buddy Blue left the band before they recorded their latest LP, The Pursuit of Happiness. “He just started getting too heavy into black magic and occult stuff,” claims Country, at the risk of being cursed.

As well as Blue’s replacement Joey Harris, The Pursuit of Happiness features stellar pianist Nicky Hopkins (the Who, Stones, Kinks) on four tracks. “He was basically the inspiration for me to learn how to play piano in the first place,” says Dick. “So that was cool, having him on there.”

A devoted music fan with over 3,000 albums (“They take up most of my house”), Montana says he’s been listening to people like Tom Waits and Steve Earle lately. He’s also been working on his own EP, The Home of Country Dick Montana, which allows for the cruder material that doesn’t make it onto the Beat Farmers LPs.

“The stuff I write tends to learn toward the profane,” admits Dick with a chuckle. “And the record companies are not into it.”

The music on the EP–which Dick describes as “definitely uncalled for”–is hilarious, especially “The Definitive A Capella Led Zeppelin Medley” (which makes a shambles of “Black Dog”) and Dick’s version of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”, which the Beat Farmers sometimes try to pull off in their live shows.

“Our bassist hates it so much that he refuses to play,” laughs Montana.

“Karma Chameleon” or not, the Beat Farmers’ show this Tuesday should be a  wild one. Country Dick Montana agrees. “If it’s anything like the last [Vancouver] gig, there’ll be some pretty over-the-top action there. The crowd was really great, and they’re very sloppy drinkers. I can appreciate that.”


To hear the audio of my interview with Country Dick Montana from 1990 subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 200 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
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Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
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Matthew Sweet, 1995
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John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
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Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
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Randy Bachman, 2001
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Stevie Salas, 1990
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Joe Bonamassa, 2011
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Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
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Steve Vai, 1990
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Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
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John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
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Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
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Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
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Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
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Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
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Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
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Ronnie Montrose, 1994
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Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
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Kim Mitchell, 1984
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….with hundreds more to come


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