VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND : ROCKTALK : 3 Bands to Add Spirit to Halloween Concert : Beat Farmers, Blasters and Raging Arb & the Redheads will jam the big stage Friday at Ventura Theatre.


Since Halloween is on Tuesday this year, the Ventura Theatre will celebrate all that annual weirdness a few days early. A raucous mix of roots rock at a Friday night costumed bash will feature the Beat Farmers, Blasters and Raging Arb & the Redheads on the big stage.

The Beat Farmers, those paragons of vacuous virtue and bad advice, offer the most fun imaginable for anyone seriously considering divorce, arrest, public drunkenness or any combination thereof. The band has been together for a dozen years and has yet to learn its lesson, according to drummer Country Dick Montana, a man with a voice so deep, he makes Darth Vader sound like Tweety.

"No one can drink as much as we can and still be able to play. No one is very trendy at our shows, and they become unfriendly later."

When the next morning arrives and you wake up wasted in the park wearing a ballerina costume, inquiring minds in the form of police, wives and bosses will have several pointed questions to ask. The Beat Farmers have an answer.

"Deny everything. If that doesn't work, blame it on the booze or amnesia. If you're still in trouble, claim that the bikers made you do it."

The Beat Farmers, out of San Diego, have neither made it big nor will they go away. They remain the "most durable legends of marginally popular music." The quartet just released its seventh album, "Manifold," which according to the group's lying bio is ". . . utter proof of their continued (same lineup) existence and belligerently bullet-headed refusal to die and leave everybody alone, once and for all."

The Blasters blasted out of Downey about 15 years ago with an infectious blend of American music that included country, rock, swing and blues elements. They put out quite a number of critically acclaimed bootie shakin' albums, but never got past the Next Big Thang stage.

As kids, Dave and Phil Alvin used to visit their uncle who lived off the Avenue in Ventura. As Blasters, Dave wrote the songs and played guitar while Phil twitched and sweated all over the stage and sang them.

These days, Dave is long gone to a solo career, but Phil, a math professor by day, still fronts the band. They have so many good songs, it would fill this column to list them all.

Raging Arb & the Redheads? If you don't know about Ventura's ultimate party by now, get a clue. I'm tired of writing about them except to say, you'll never be a local until you've had the Arb experience. The 8 p.m. Friday show will cost you $15. Call the venue at 648-1888.


The Solimar Cafe is a fictional hangout where cool artists play cool music. The Solimar Cafe Review is a real tape by a number of local artists doing cool songs acoustically. Once a week or so, some of the musicians take to the road to hype the tape.

Tonight at Java Joe's in Ventura, it's Babette and John Welborn of Jacob's Ladder. Sunday, half a dozen artists will offer a serious, if subdued, blowout at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura from noon until 6 p.m. The tape will be on sale along with all sorts of brewskis and industrial strength coffee. Call Joe's at 642-4332 or the Voltaire at 641-1743.


Congratulations once again to Spencer the Gardener for winning the Best Local Band competition in the recent 1995 Reader's Poll in the Santa Barbara Independent. No deal, no radio, no hits, but bunches of good songs, fun shows and lots of fans keep this band a money-making operation despite the ongoing deafness of the record industry right down the street. Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band that can afford to hire gardeners, received an honorable mention.


For a few noisy hours last week until the 10:30 p.m. curfew, the cultural center of the universe was at the unlikeliest of locations--the Agriculture Building at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Mr. Mirainga, 10,000 Mona Lisas, Phunk Junkeez and 311 teased the testosterone-laden youthful and energetic crowd.

The thrashathon sound in the big cavernous hall was surprisingly good and louder than the Ventura Raceway next door.

Beforehand, everyone got a shakedown cruise from security before entering. All the usual suspects were no-no's: guns, knives, booze, dope, pets, but what is up with this, no umbrellas? I guess that leaves out Mary Poppins and Sherlock Holmes.

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