Even if they may escape the prying eyes and ears of the rest of the world, every major city in the U.S. has a vibrant music scene. And San Diego, California is no different. While some think of San Diego as Los Angeles and Orange County’s precocious little brother (or sister), the talented musicians that have created and built the SD scene over the decades beg to differ. The city – and surrounding areas – has given us Jason Mraz, P.O.D., Rocket from the Crypt, the Album Leaf, Trees, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Iron Butterfly, Pinback, Unwritten Law, the Penetrators, As I Lay Dying, Joey Harris & The Speedsters, and many others. From local popularity to national (and international) fame, San Diego has been the birthplace of so many great artists. Thankfully, the city still has an exciting musical scene that will continue to keep growing.
The San Diego-based Punk Rock and New Wave scenes of the late 1970s and early 1980s was a particularly fertile time for bands and musicians. However, the city also had a thriving Rockabilly/Roots Rock scene as well. One of the most popular bands from this scene was The Beat Farmers. Founded by drummer/vocalist Country Dick Montana (real name: Daniel McLain) and guitarist/vocalist Jerry Raney, the duo recruited guitarist/vocalist Buddy Blue (real name: Bernard Seigal) and bassist Rolle Love and The Beat Farmers was born. While each of the members had come from different local Punk, New Wave, and Rock bands, the sound that they created in The Beat Farmers was roots-influenced Rock ‘n’ Roll, a genre that would later be called Americana or Y’Alternative. The band quickly built a sizable following, recorded their live set as a ‘demo’ and landed a recording contract with Rhino Records. Their 1985 debut album TALES OF THE NEW WEST was an enormously successful album for the then-independent label and the band. With four songs being played on four different radio formats, The Beat Farmers’ debut set the stage for a successful career for this talented band. They signed to Curb Records for a series of albums, losing Buddy Blue along the way but gaining the equally talented Joey Harris in the process. The Beat Farmers came to an end in 1995 when Country Dick Montana died while playing a live show in Canada. The band’s memory lives on in Raney’s current band The Farmers (aka The Farmers SD).
The Beat Farmers’ influential debut album TALES OF THE NEW WEST has been out of print for years, but the Blixa Sounds label has rectified that situation by reissuing the album as a deluxe two CD edition. The original 12 track album is joined by the live album LIVE AT THE SPRING VALLEY INN, 1983, the very recording that helped the band land their deal with Rhino Records nearly four decades ago. The original album is filled with absolute classics like “Bigger Stones”, “Lost Weekend”, “California Kid”, “Goldmine”, and covers of the Velvet Underground’s “There She Goes Again” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Reason to Believe”. The album remains a timeless audio snapshot and most certainly paved the way for new generations of Americana rockers. The bonus live CD contains a live set by the band performing some songs that would end up on TALES… plus tracks that they would not record elsewhere. The lo-fi sound quality cannot hide the energy, sweat, and joy in the band’s performance and the bonus CD works as a perfect companion to TALES OF THE NEW WEST. If you missed this album the first time around, now’s the perfect time to meet the Beat Farmers!
THE BEAT FARMERS
TALES OF THE NEW WEST (Deluxe)