Where they are todayNino Del Pesco Nino Del Pesco, who played bass in Country Dick and the Snuggle Bunnies, hopes an album the band recorded in 1982 will someday be released. “Right now it’s sitting on a hard-drive somewhere rotting and nobody knows about it and nobody’s willing to put the money together to put it out, and it’s a shame,” he said. “If I had the money, I’d do it.” The songs were taped at Hit Single Recording Services in El Cajon. At least two of them were later recorded by the Beat Farmers, “Revenooer Man” and “Texas.” It also includes covers by Woody Guthrie and George Jones and the band’s signature song, “Bunny Call,” a revised tune by Marty Robbins and sung by Country Dick. “The tracks have been digitized and it’s ready to go,” Del Pesco said. “It’s this long-lost treasure, in my opinion. It captures the energy of the band perfectly.” Del Pesco also played in the bands the Puppies, Lonesome Strangers and Snake Farm. He became a screenwriter in 2005. Paul Kamanski and Caren Campbell-Kamanski Paul Kamanski and Caren Campbell-Kamanski, who both were part of the Pleasure Barons’ first tour, are still living in San Diego. The couple’s home includes Country Dick’s piano. Someday they hope to have a house in fishing town of Markleeville, which is in the nation’s tiniest county, Alpine, and is 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe. Paul Kamanski continues to be a prolific songwriter. He’s made five albums since 2013, and here’s a link to his music: www.paulkamanskimusic.bandcamp.com. Tom Ames Tom Ames, who began working Jerry Raney and the Shames in 1979, was the tour manager during the entire Beat Farmers run, including the four trips to Britain and the two Pleasure Baron tours. He has filled the same role with the ska band Reel Big Fish for more than 16 years. On the 20th anniversary of the death of Country Dick Montana, Ames lit a candle for him in a famed church in Cologne, Germany. If there can be any solace about Country Dick’s death, it was that it was happened quickly. “The coroner told me he had cystic kidney disease and it eventually was going to get him and it was going to be very painful and it wasn’t something they could really do anything about,” Ames said. Dane Conover Dane Conover, who said he and Jeff Becker wrote “Happy Boy” as a joke in five minutes, is still writing and recording songs. He is remodeling his house in Santa Cruz and is in the process of converting his entire library of recordings to digital. Conover was a member of the Puppies, which had a record deal with StiffAmerica. During recording sessions with his new wave project Trees, he met his future wife. Dane and Marisa Conover’s musical collaborations have the band name Popgems. He said there will be no Puppies reunion: “Like Paul McCartney said, “You can’t reheat a soufflé. If the Puppies got together, it would be the Old Dogs and I don’t want to be like a Viagra commercial.” Mojo Nixon The death of Country Dick Montana and some other musicians convinced Mojo Nixon to pursue a new career. “My business is bullshit, and business is good,” said Nixon, who is a disc jockey with Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s “Outlaw Country,” a NASCAR talk show and a political program called “Lyin’ Cocksuckers.” “I can’t believe Country Dick being dead 20 years,” he said. “I can’t believe one, he lived that long, and two, I’m still alive. One of the reasons I’m still alive is because I’ve stopped touring. I didn’t know how to do touring except the wrong way. I don’t think anybody wanted to see the sober, exercising, tofu-eating Mojo. People came to the show for the chaos, for the anarchy, for the unexpected. And I think the same thing is true for Country Dick. “Nobody’s clamoring (for a comeback). Nobody’s saying, ‘Hey Mojo, here’s $10,000. Go play.’ I’m playing with Joey. It’s his show. I’m just playing guitar and singing and maybe throw in a couple of songs. There’s no pressure. I just get to get out of the house and have a couple of drinks. “My bass player is working on a Mojo documentary. If he ever finishes this thing and it doesn’t suck, we’ll have to go on a little tour and that will end my career. It’s called ‘The Mojo Manifesto.’ Hopefully, it will gets picked up by Netflix, 10 people see it and we’re gonna go do 10 or 20 shows and Show 3 is when I’m gonna die in a motel room in Chapel Hill, or B.C. or Seattle. I’ll be in a motel and say, ‘Honey, I don’t feel so well,’ and drop dead. That will help sales for the movie.” Steve Poltz Unlike Country Dick, whom he called his mentor, Steve Poltz survived an onstage health incident. The one-man performer suffered a stroke in October 2014 at the World Café Live in Wilmington, Delaware. He repeated a song verse five times, and many in the audience thought he was joking and they laughed. Poltz, who started the San Diego band the Rugburns in the 1980s, contemplated retiring from the music business, but he returned to work after only a four-month break. He’s fully recovered. Poltz has been sober more than a decade, and he attributes the stroke to overwork. “I’m the type of person who always says yes,” Poltz said. “Now I say no more often than I used to.” Ken Drew When the Internet came along, Ken Drew became the Beat Farmers electronic publicist. Drew’s career as a Beat Farmers fan started when he was a student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He’d just split with his girlfriend and Country Dick’s rendition of “Lucille” resonated. With approval of Dan McLain’s sister, Connie, Drew is the webmaster of sites for the Beat Farmers and Country Dick Montana. He also has a Country Dick Montana Facebook page that makes posts in the spirit of Country Dick, such as “Have a good day, maggots.” Drew provided some of the photos in this series of articles. He is an organic chemist who lives near Boston.
Dave Alvin Country Dick Montana’s and Mojo Nixon’s partner in the Pleasure Barons, Dave Alvin has been recording and performing with his brother, Phil, for the first time in 30 years since they had the band the Blasters. They reunited after Phil survived a serious health issue in 2012.“Over the last few years both of us have lost family members and very close friends,” Dave Alvin said. “It just seemed like time (to reunite).” Alvin often plays at the annual Country Dick Montana celebrations and he likes to talk about his old friend, imitating his baritone voice. “A lot of people never knew he had cancer when he was 19,” Alvin said. “So I think that he viewed everything that he did after he was 19 as frosting on the cake. So it was live hard, die young and leave a beautiful memory.”
Saying goodbye to Country Dick MontanaEditor’s note: Country Dick Montana died in British Columbia, one of the Beat Farmers main hubs. The band outgrew Buffalo Bill’s Bar in Whistler, played the Commodore Ballroom and the Town Pump Bar, where Country Dick first started protecting his eyes from beer spray by wearing ski goggles. He died in midperformance Nov. 8, 1995, in Whistler’s Longhorn Saloon, where his framed image is displayed above the bar. Karen “Sparky” Roberts, who became a close friend of the band’s, said she once tried to revisit the bar, but it was too difficult. Genuine friends, the Beat Farmers once used their tour van to help Roberts move, and she was close enough to Country Dick that he insisted she call him by his real name, Dan, who called her Spunky or Spunks. When the Beat Farmers played in Whistler and Vancouver, the musicians would do a sound check before going to dinner. When they returned to the club, Dan McLain transformed into Country Dick Montana. “He puffed up, shoulders back, throat cleared, hat tipped, boots ready,” Roberts said. “Before all shows, he just wanted to see the people. It was just breathtaking to see that.” We asked Roberts what had been left out of this story that she might want to add. “He had a massive heart,” Roberts said. “He loved people. He loved the people that were close to him, and fortunately I was and he would have done anything for me, but I think he would have done anything for anybody. He was beautiful inside. “When he was in his performance mode, he was untouchable. He was a god. That was the difference (between Country Dick Montana and Dan McLain). But then if he stopped and looked at you, that was Dan. He had that smile and glint in his eye like he was going to cause a little trouble, but had time for anybody and everybody.”
A close friend remembers Dan McLain, aka Country DickBy Karen Roberts I am sharing a story — my story — that I had kept to myself, for now 20 years (wow). It all came out on this anniversary. I am proud to say I was a special friend to each and every one of the Beat Farmers for many years. One tour trip they even got up early on a Saturday after their Friday night show and helped me move into my new apartment. Spectacular friends! By the time of that Whistler show we had all spent a lot of great times there. My dad was the Whistler dentist so it was home for me. The night Dan passed I received so many calls. It was the first Whistler show I had ever missed. I couldn’t make it because of work and we had an early snowfall. The roads weren’t safe. I talked to the guys and apologized for not being able to get there. They were all cool with it as we were going to see each other for a full weekend the next day. Country Dick, in his wonderfully deep voice, got on the phone and said “It’s OK Spunky, you are just going to have take my boots off again. Haaaaa!” That is another story. : ). My best friends, Katie, and Frank, who before this week were the only ones who know this story, kept telling me it was best I wasn’t there that night. I go back and forth on that still today. The band left Whistler early the next morning. Got in the van and drove straight back to San Diego. They called. I knew they had to leave. All of them were in shock. I received a call later that next afternoon from Jerry, and Joey reminded me yesterday, from Tom Ames as well. “Yes, of course,” I said. “Anything … Of course.” Dan’s parents were in shock. Someone needed to identify the body and because he left us in Canada and needed to get back to the United States, across a border. Someone had to sign important papers. I was authorized to do that. And I did on Nov. 11, Memorial Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the U.S. Pretty much a busy day. This is hard. … Dan’s family wanted him creamated. So he was transferred from Whistler to a lovely town called Squamish, between Vancouver and Whistler. There I went. The pastor was given my information and clearance to sign the documents to send him over the border. Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but Joey asked me to. Of course that weekend The Beat Farmers were supposed to play at The Town Pump, downtown Vancouver. My friend Katie made me go. It was a celebration. One Beat Farmers friend had made black arm bands with Country Dick’s picture in them and was giving them out to everyone. I walked into the bar and saw my friend Frank. I remember saying to him “I’m going to Squamish ” tomorrow. Good night. I left, walked home… On my walk I passed a flower seller on Granville Street. I bought two Red Roses. One for each of those cowboy boots I had pulled off sooooo many times: ). Big day ahead. I planned to leave at 11 a.m. An hour drive to Squamish, leaving me a bit of thought time. At 11 my doorbell rang. My friend Frank, a Beat Farmers fan, of course, says he is coming. We got in my car, and all of the streets were closed for parades and celebrations. How do I get outta town? We finally got on the road and arrived at The Squamish Funeral Home. The pastor was waiting at the door for us and was so lovely. Frank waited in the lobby and I went into the office with him. I identified Dan’s personal belongings. I had written a note thanking his parents and had my two red roses. The pastor allowed me to place a red rose in each boot and the letter was placed in the right boot ( the first boot he always wanted off first!). I signed for his personal belongings to go over the border. But we weren’t done yet. Geez. The “oven” wasn’t done yet. More paperwork had to be done. He asked us to wait in the chapel. Frank and I sat in the first row, the pastor closed the door. There we were in a chapel, waiting. Frank gives me an elbow nudge and pulls out 40 scratch lottery tickets, and says, “Country Dick Montana is loving that we are gambling in a chapel!” Amen and God bless.
More Dick: 1988 Concert in Germany released as an album.