The Freak Mountain Ramblers, with a lineup including 3 members of the inimitable and notorious Holy Modal Rounders/Clamtones amalgamation of the '70s and '80s, has its roots in the underbelly of the alternative music scene that existed at that time both in Portland and across
the country. During the past 11 years the Freaks have accumulated a loyal following in the Portland area by dependably creating beauty and bedlam at their live shows, and by producing six CDs, the most recent of which, FLXIBLE, was released mid-July of 2008. Unlike any other band in
the Pacific Northwest, FMR present a show where the spotlight rotates among 4 lead singer/songwriters, each with his own distinct character and approach to life and music. The 5th
member is a veteran drummer with his own tale to tell, and even an occasional song to sing.
A single rotation through the lineup can start with an original slide guitar country blues from
Jimmy Boyer, move to a tale of a non-stop talker at a neighborhood bar by Dave Reisch, then to
a shuffle-boogie about life at the Nude Beach by Lex Browning, to a ripping guitar-led tune
about a gallows-bound gal named "Rotten Lettuce Sue", who Turtle VanDemarr says is "...just not
that nice". It's no wonder Freaks recent shows at the Crystal Ballroom, the Laurelthirst Public House in Portland, the Wonder Ballroom, Doug Fir Lounge, the Portland Bite Festival, the Portland and Bend Brewfests, and Cycle Oregon, are packed with some of the most interesting and loyal music fans around.
The Freak Mountain Ramblers:
Jim Boyer - Grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Portland and came under the influence of the late Jeffrey Frederick (Clamtones). Jim is one of the most respected songwriter/guitarists in the Portland alternative music scene.
Dave Reisch - Grew up in Queens, NY. He played Bass for the Holy Modal Rounders, who brought him to Portland in 1972, and went on to join up with the Clamtones, and later Les
Clams. Dave has also been a driver for the Green Tortoise bus line, and currently tours with legendary folk songwriter Michael Hurley when the moon is right.
Lex Browning - Grew up in Kentucky. Lex is also an ex-Clamtone, but has also spent several years in Nashville, supporting such national touring artists as Tanya Tucker, Pam Tillis, and The Austin Lounge Lizards on fiddle and guitar before he retreated to the peace and quiet of Portland. Fortunately, the Freaks found him and coaxed him out of his house and into the band, where his fiddle and lead guitar playing routinely drive the crowd the rest of the way over the edge.
Turtle Vandemarr - Turtle is a Portland native, and has been a long time participant in the Portland and West Coast music scene, from the Fly-By-Night Jass Band in the seventies, to Dan Hicks and Country Joe MacDonald in the eighties, to a multitude of rock and hot jazz bands in
Roger North - Grew up in New Jersey, moved to Boston where he played with Quill (perhaps the most esoteric rock band to play the original Woodstock Festival). He then toured with folk legend Odetta for a year before joining the Holy Modal Rounders in 1971. Roger and Dave have been a rhythm section for 37 years now, with the Rounders, Clamtones, Les Clams, and numerous other combinations of musicians before they joined up again in the Freaks. In addition to being an excellent drummer, Roger is an adept on the washboard, and a world-class cowbell player.