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Beat Farmers Bouncing Back After Assault in Chico

In the wee hours of Dec. 4, two members of the Beat Farmers and two of the band’s roadies were victims of a vicious, unprovoked attack outside an all-night Chevron station in Chico, south of Redding. The assault came shortly after the quartet finished playing a gig at the Blue Max, a club on the same street as the station.

Reportedly, guitarist Joey Harris had retired to his hotel room and drummer Country Dick Montana had stayed behind to talk with fans at the club when guitarist Jerry Raney, bassist Rolle Love and roadies Tom Aames and Craig Apelman pulled the band’s van into the gas station. Moments after they entered the station’s mini-mart, the van’s alarm went off and Love went out to investigate.

The police report gave the following description of events: Love was confronted by Michael A. Mahon, 23, who was “angry about something and very drunk.” Love and Mahon scuffled, and several of Mahon’s companions joined in, one of them knocking Love down with a blind-side punch. Aames and Apelman entered the fray, followed by Raney.

Most severely injured in the ensuing brawl was Raney, who rushed Aames’ assailant from behind, only to be flipped over the man’s head, according to police. The guitarist landed head-first on the pavement, losing consciousness. While he was out, Raney was kicked several times in the head, allegedly by Rob A. Gage, 22, and suffered a massive hematoma, cuts that required stitches to an ear and under one eye, and some nerve damage. Aames and Love suffered minor cuts and bruises.

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Reporting Officer John Fossett of the Chico Police Department said that, out of 14 people involved in the melee, only Mahon and Gage--both students at Chico State University--were arrested at the scene. Mahon was charged with battery; Gage was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly kicking Raney in the head. Police reportedly turned another member of the Mahon-Gage entourage over to the military when a routine computer check showed that he was absent without leave from the Marine Corps.

The recuperating members of the band have been keeping a relatively low profile since the incident, which caused the cancellation of the last four dates on the tour. Asked about the attack while he was finishing his Christmas shopping Sunday, Montana treated the subject with characteristic good humor.

“As it turned out, I did the smart thing,” he said. “I stayed in the bar drinking. I heard the van alarm, but I’ve heard that thing go off so many times before, I thought nothing of it. I understand they’re prosecuting one of the (assailants). Of course, after the police get done with them,” Montana added, laughing, “we’ve got some biker friends up there. . . .”

Though Raney is still mending, Montana said the Beat Farmers will honor commitments to play two local shows. At 8:30 p.m. tonight, they’ll join members of the Paladins, Jack Tempchin, Mojo Nixon, Candye Kane and the Armadillo Stampede, and Jerry McCann and the Band of Giants at the Belly Up Tavern in a benefit for the San Diego Youth and Community Services organization. The Beat Farmers will also open for Eddie Money on Dec. 27 at Symphony Hall.

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“The only difference is that Jerry (Raney) won’t be singing much, because that puts a lot of pressure on his face,” said Montana. “But at least his face is mostly back to its natural color.”

Montana is pleased that musicians in Chico are organizing a benefit to help compensate for the Beat Farmers’ loss of revenue. And he emphasized that the band will return to play Chico again.

The Paladins will have added incentive to play well at gigs this Friday and Saturday night at the Belly Up Tavern.

The trio is between recording contracts, having satisfied their obligations to the Chicago-based blues label, Alligator Records. While weighing offers from major labels, the Paladins have decided to cull the best performances from several shows for a 10-tune live recording that would capture the band at its hot-and-sweaty best.

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According to the band’s Solana Beach-based manager, Kevin Morrow, there is enough of a demand for such an album that the band most likely will release it themselves, selling copies by mail-order and at concerts.

“Everywhere the Paladins play, people ask when they’re going to release a live album,” Morrow said recently. “The band gets so much mail and so many faxes every week, we feel we can market it to fans and eliminate the middle man. We really believe we could sell 10,000 units without having to give anyone else a nickel.”

Besides capturing the band in different cities, the live album will, in one sense, showcase the Paladins’ evolution, as marked by its three different drummers. Probably, it will include performances recorded in 1988 at the famed Tipitina’s club in New Orleans (Scott Campbell on drums); in 1989 at Raji’s in Hollywood (Brian Fahey); and at this year’s shows at the Belly Up, including those this weekend with drummer Mike Cherry. Morrow hopes the Paladins’ live album will be ready by February.

An event Sunday called the “North County Green Scene” aims both to educate and to entertain. A number of environmental groups will dispense information at tables--with special emphasis given to Holiday-oriented recycling--and representatives thereof will introduce the musical acts.

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The performers include MCA Records rap artist Trick Westbrooks; Bordertown (folk-rock); Laxton’s Superb (psychedelic-pop); beatnik cafe (soul-rock); singer-songwriters John Katchur and Roxie Sutton; and the Heartstrings Rhythm Band (Latin). The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the parking lot of Artists in Action, 466 North Highway 101, Leucadia. For more information, call coordinator Dave Howard at 739-8863.

GRACE NOTES: (Tickets for the following concerts will be sold at all TicketMaster outlets unless otherwise specified.) The thrice-postponed Peabo Bryson concert, last scheduled for Dec. 19 at Sound FX, is becoming the stuff of myth and mythtery. As of now, the concert is canceled. Period. According to a club spokesperson, Bryson’s engagement was a co-booking by the club and an outside promoter who reneged on his end of the deal. . . . Because Metallica’s Jan. 13 show sold out, a second show has been booked for Jan. 14, also at the Sports Arena (on sale now). . . . Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Wonder Stuff will play Golden Hall on February 4 (on sale Friday at 3 p.m.). . . . Dire Straits’ Feb. 5 concert (on sale now) will be at the Sports Arena, not the Spreckels Theatre as originally reported.

CRITIC’S CHOICE: VERSATILE CHARLIE DANIELS TO PLAY AT LEO’S

For the past 20 years, Charlie Daniels has managed the improbable. By turns a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist session player, and Southern-rock bandleader, the Tennessean has maintained an unlikely equilibrium between good ol’ boy regionalism and rock ‘n’ roll worldliness that has attracted both rednecks and rockers to his camp. No doubt Daniels will demonstrate his equal adeptness at country, Tex-Mex, boogie, and blues, when he brings his band to Leo’s Little Bit O’ Country in San Marcos tonight for shows at 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 744-4120.

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