|Joey Harris and the Mentals|
In Junior High, I read a review of the Beat Farmers. A San Diego, California Cow Punk band that stormed through Denver. They jugged open beer bottles, gave the audience the middle finger as a jester of love, and put on one hell of a show. It was a mixture of rock, country, and punk with kazoo and beer gargling solos. The band sounded like living cartoon characters. I went to the record store immediately to get their albums.
The three vocalists in the band shared lead singer and drumming duties. On vocals, drums, and, guitar Country Dick Montana looked like a western movie villain belting out hilarious dirty drinking songs. On vocals, drums, and guitar Jerry Raney was the rocker of the group that previously played for John Lee Hooker. On vocals, guitar, and drums Joey Harris, the nephew of The Kingston Trio’s Nick Reynolds, sang roots rock tunes with cleaver funny lyrics. Rolle Love held the band together with his bass and evil grin. They had amazing covers of Johnny Cash, The Kinks, Neil Young, The Velvet Underground, and Tom Waits songs. This sent me down a path of discovering awe-inspiring music that changed my world.
|Living cartoon charters|
I saw the Beat Farmers live numerous times after turning the legal drinking age because they mainly performed at bars. At these incredible performances, I saw my first bar fight, witnessed a wedding performed by Country Dick Montana, and cracked my tooth in a mosh pit. Their run was cut short when Montana died of a heart attack on stage in 1995 breaking up the Beat Farmers and breaking my heart.
Later Joey Harris formed Joey Harris and the Mentals. They have been playing around the San Diego area for years. I made a musical expedition to witness one of my heroes perform at Bolt Brewery in La Mesa, CA on a beautiful California Saturday night.
|Joey Harris and the Mentals|
His band consisted of bass player Jeffrey Stephen Kmak who went to High School with Dan McLain before he transformed into Country Dick Montana. Kmak is a legend in the San Diego music scene for the past 40 years. Even Calab Yearsley played the drums. He is the son of the late great adult actress and singer Candye Kane. She sang Let’s Put the X- Back in Christmas with Country Dick Montana. As a child, Yearly used to wake up and step over various members of the Beat Farmers passed out on the floor to watch cartoons.
|Joey Harris – All photos by the
Rock and Roll Princess
Before the show, Joey Harris and I talked about Denver’s rock venue Herman’s Hideaway and my love for his music. I took a seat close to the band armed with a refreshing Bolt Brewery offering. The Mentals played a three-hour show with only a brief break.
The 60-year old Harris went through his vast catalog of songs singing with a clear voice and shredding on the guitar. He played You Never Call Me a catchy pop song from his early solo album Joey Harris and The Speedsters. He also played a recent one entitled Your a Piece of Cake about losing a girl to another girl.
He didn’t disappoint and played a number of Beat Farmer songs including Bigger Stones from their first album Tales of the New West. Joey Harris’ explained Make It Last was played on country radio briefly until radio programmers found out the drummer drank beer with his feet. Harris described the night Country Dick Montana conducted his wedding ceremony right before playing The Girl I Almost Married. His wife was in the crowd to collaborate the story. The song Riding had him reminisce about girls on the beach smelling like coconut oil. Hideaway had him recall the Beat Farmers network television debut performing the single on Late Night with David Letterman.
Just when I thought the night couldn’t get any better, Harris played the Country Dick Montana tune Lakeside Trailer Park. “Got doctor bills and legal ills/ My wife’s a fat old whore/My TV’s broke; my life’s joke/And the Sheriff moved next door/But I don’t frown/Don’t get me down/I got somethin’ good to say/’Cause I live in a Lakeside trailer park/And Everything’s gonna be okay.”
After the end of their set, I walked over to Joey Harris and he hugged me goodbye.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one stepping over you to watch cartoons.