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The Fremonts are the exception to the rule, a band that evolves and redefines itself by consistently looking to the past. Modern purveyors of Gulf Coast blues and rhythm, the Fremonts have harvested the fruits of vintage American blues labels such as Excello, Vee-Jay, Imperial and Specialty to create a tapestry of sound that is at once both unique and refreshingly familiar. Manhattan, Kansas native and vocalist, "Mighty" Joe Milsap heads a lineup of talented and thoughtful musicians that has remained unchanged for over 7 years; a minor miracle in the blighted landscape of modern blues. Not only are the Fremonts traditionalists in the truest sense of the word, they are a coherent and consistent band. Multi-instrumentalist Troy Sandow handles both bass and harmonica duties, allowing the band to transition seamlessly from a rural, 2 guitar/harp approach to more urban sounding guitar/bass arrangements. Big Al West provides the vintage backbone of the band on the drums, while Patrick Skog and Tony Tomlinson handle guitar duties with poise and command. Numerous awards and accolades attest to the fact that the Fremonts' sound has not gone unnoticed. In 2003, the band was named, "Best Blues Band" by the San Diego Reader. In 2004, the Fremonts' debut project, "No More Doggin'" was featured in Blues Revue magazine and received airplay across the United States, Canada, Europe and South America. In 2007 and 2008, the band was played extensively on XM Radio and nominated for several regional music awards. The band’s second record, "Mighty Crazy" won blues album of the year at the 2006 San Diego Music Awards and received critical praise both in America and abroad.

the fremonts
Review by Andi Hazelwood

When asked if there is anything people should know about The Fremonts, guitarist/bassist and co-founder Tony Tomlinson makes one thing very clear.

“We aren't blues-rock.”

At David Patrone's $10,000 Swing Dance Spectacular dance competition last night at Viejas Casino, The Fremonts played true-to-form interpretations of the late 50's to mid 60's swamp blues sound of Excello Records artists like Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo, along with their own carefully crafted originals in the same style. “In that way we're both region and era specific,” Tomlinson explains.

While Harpo's “Baby Scratch My Back” and “I'm Ready” by Fats Domino might be recognized by some listeners, a show by The Fremonts provides an education in early New Orleans rhythm and blues. “We wouldn't play songs that people know," Tomlinson said, "other bands already do that.”

The Fremonts started out nine years ago playing west coast and Chicago blues, like those other bands. But the addition of Mighty Joe Milsap's unique and straightforward vocals saw the band shift to their current niche, filling a void in the San Diego blues scene.

Local gigs have all but dried up, and the band plays San Clemente, Tucson, Phoenix and elsewhere as much if not more than they play San Diego. David Patrone has booked them for the Swing Dance Spectacular every year, however, and the dancers enjoyed the opportunity to get slow, down and dirty on the dance floor.

In addition to Tomlinson, The Fremonts are completed by co-founder Patrick Skog on guitar and bass, Troy Sandow on harmonica and bass, Mighty Joe Milsap providing the voice, along with washboard and shaker accompaniment, and drummer Al West.

The Fremonts play tonight at a benefit for Steve White at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge, along with Candye Kane, Sue Palmer and Her Motel Swing Orchestra, Blue Largo, Billy Watson, Nathan James, The Mississippi Mudsharks and Tomcat Courtney. Visit for more details.

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