Playing to Live : The Bead Band has plenty of gigs but no record deal and no hits--although it should have.


Let’s see, this Week’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Formula for Success and Unlimited Access to Limos, Money and an Unending Torrent of New and Endearing Adjectives From Rock Critics goes something like this: Form a band that sounds like R.E.M., Guns N’ Roses or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, move because your hometown is unhip, snivel about the state of the record biz, at least dress like you could have been on MTV, cultivate creative differences, then break up.

The Bead Band, out of Michigan--but whose home lately has been that long, lonesome highway--has no deal, no hits but plenty of gigs, an ever-spinning odometer. In short, it is a working band.

The group has been on the road for months, lapping Charles Kuralt a million times, and, for our purposes, will be stopping by Charlie’s in Ventura for a Saturday night gig--its first local appearance in six months.

According to bandleader Terry Farmer, whose lengthy musical resume includes numerous gigs with Jan & Dean, these Bead dudes are just like the Turtles--"Happy Together.”


“We’re together almost all the time,” he said. “We’re like a bunch of gypsies--no home. We have to play to live. We have made a lot of friends on the road, which is great, but we just keep going because we all believe. We make ourselves available to the angel of provision, but we’d like to have more money because sometimes it’s hard. Yet, we keep pushing on.”

So rather than whining about no place to play and all the other things musicians whine about, the Bead Band is actually in a working sort of mode and in control of its own musical destiny. They even sell one-of-a-kind, hand-painted T-shirts, which are almost as important as a Get Out of Jail Free card that works.

“We’ve got this 20-foot trailer and a 15-passenger van,” said Farmer. “Although our hair is getting longer, we at least look like a reputable organization. It’s a good front. To get gigs, we utilize agents in different parts of the country, but basically, we go through our manager, Ron Colone.”

Although the Bead Band has no hits, it could. It should. The group has 70 to 100 pop-rock tunes plus five-part harmonies that work. Five-part harmonies! What a bunch of showoffs--most bands don’t even have one decent singer.


“Bead music is like a blending of all things,” Farmer said. “Right now we’re in the mountains in Colorado and we’re getting sort of a twang. We have a lot of harmonies and a lot of groovin’. We’ve got a Hammond B3 organ now, so keyboards are a more integral part of our sound. We do everything from hard rock to cello stuff. We have three primary singers at this point, but all five of us sing. We know a lot of Michael On Fire songs--we could probably do 10 of them really well.”

The Bead Band produced a tape last summer and all 500 copies are gone, so it must have some fans out there somewhere--relatives will only buy so many. And there’s more Bead music on the way.

“In the next 30 to 60 days, we’ll be releasing an 11-song CD called ‘Busy Being Born.’ It was recorded in L.A. and Ann Arbor and three songs were done in a place where we feel very comfortable--Fort Dodge, Iowa. Hopefully, by hitting different markets on our own terms, we’ll attract some attention. Hey, we’re busy being born--I can feel it.”