Crazy Mountain Billies
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Crazy Mountain Billies

Bend, OR | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | INDIE

Bend, OR | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2009
Solo Folk Bluegrass




"Rapid City Journal"

"Incredible banjo and vocals make this local youngster a treat for the ears." - Rapid City Journal

"Portland Weekly Volcano"

"Crazy Mountain Billies are just crazy, man. Crazy ..." - Portland Weekly Volcano

"Big Western Flavor"

"...The one man Line-up works for his brand of bluegrass; instead of monotonous jamming his songs overflow with real melodies on multiple instruments. His unique vocals also are worthy of praise." - Big Western Flavor Blog

"Badlands III album review"


2011 – Extra-Smooth 9000 Records


This is the fourth album of almost cinematic sounds by Andy Bormes alter ego the Crazy Mountain Billies. This disc contains more instrumentals than his previous offerings but if you lose yourself in this music, almost impossible not to, you will find yourself trying to remember what was going on in this particular western film. You may even be trying to visualise what was happening in one of these ‘western gothic’ movies such as ‘No country for old men,’ as particular tracks were playing, such is it’s grip on the imagination!
I’m not too sure how he gets some of the sounds and can’t identify some of the instruments but this album is so different to anything else you might hear and consequently is quite addictive. Certainly the dominant instrument is banjo, giving Andy the chance to push his incredibly masterful dexterity to it’s limits, but amongst others there is jews harp, acoustic guitar, dobro, national steel bodied resonator, mandolin, fiddle and, I think, synthesizer plus of course his raspy atmospheric vocals, although there are less of those on this album than previous offerings! I’ve seen his music described as ‘an extreme form of bluegrass with elements of old-timey, string band and Appalachian mountain music’! Now you can add ‘elements of soundtrack music’ and still not really sum up some of the sounds on this series of albums, but don’t be worried by the ‘series’ tag. Each album can stand alone but all are still available so if, like me, you hear one and become addicted you can easily feed that addiction!
To get an authentic western feel, Andy told me that he had great fun writing and recording the album in a remote cabin in the Black hills of South Dakota! Apparently there had been some minor sound quality issues during the latter stages of recording, due to his computer playing up and then seizing up completely! Fairly obviously those issues were resolved as the sound quality is now fine!
The songs range in length from less than two minutes to eleven and a half minutes which is partly responsible for the scenic/cinematic quality of this album. At times the pace can be quite manic, almost taking your breath away, but stick with it and you will be rewarded! I expect the most radio friendly song will be The hills are black but this reference to those hills is a lot darker (sic) than the Doris Day hit of so many decades ago and despite only clocking in at just over three minutes is epic in texture and tone with it’s soaring chorus. The longest song on the album Freight train take me away is extraordinary. It’s structure and instruments change regularly almost making it an epic countryfied version of ‘Tubular Bells,’ but with different instrumentation and added character! It is almost impossible to keep up with everything that’s going on and will probably repay many listens! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve listened to this album, but with every play something different seems to emerge. It’s that sort of an album! It takes a lot of time to reveal all of it’s nuances, but give it a try, I’m sure you’ll be pleased you did!
- American Roots UK

""Don't Move Or I'll Shoot" album review"

I’ve already posted reviews this year of the two most recent albums by the Crazy Mountain Billies and it seemed only natural to review his first when I was eventually able to get hold of it! The band is actually Andy P. Bormes, who plays all of the instruments as well as being responsible for vocals. These vocals are at time a nasally whine that are perfectly suited to this music, evocative as it is, of an old time ‘hillbilly’ on a porch in the Appalachians trying to come up with a different take on the local music and succeeding beyond his wildest expectations! This is an incredibly dense, almost at times, overpowering album with the sheer number of stringed instruments being played difficult to keep up with! As far as I could tell the list is as follows, banjo, jews harp, mandolin, guitar, dobro, double bass, acoustic guitar, harmonica, shakers and possibly (but unsure!) a jug! They are all pretty much essential to the music and are all expertly played and blended by Andy. Remember, this was his first album and as such was experimental and yet it actually comes across as a fully formed genre of it’s own and has set the trend for his following exceptional recordings.
The title track is an absolutely mind boggling twelve minutes tale of the old wild west that really shouldn’t work, but actually does, and incredibly well, being the central feature on which the album is built. There are such perfect changes in atmosphere and tempo that even without his vocals you could probably understand the story. The instruments are swopped around, with some going from support to lead and vice versa, but always with Andy P. Bormes vocals dominating the story. Quite an achievement especially with that mastery of virtually any instrument with strings on it and all of the changes avoiding any signs of monotony! Rather than having the feel of the mountains throughout, it at times is evocative of a dusty, dry, hot desert atmosphere, but ultimately does return to the ‘hillbilly’ roots! On Shut yo’ mouth the speed of his vocals almost takes the breath away just trying to keep up with what he is singing, whilst the almost maniacal growling vocals on Kick them rocks, could well be the envy of Tom Waits. There are also several instrumentals on the album that help to blend the whole into a sort of travelogue concept!
I would advise anyone that likes edgy, highly melodic modern hillbilly music that is incredibly well played, to buy not only this album but also ‘Badlands’ and ‘Badlands 2’. Even better, I know that Andy is currently in the studio working on ‘Badlands 3.’ I can hardly wait!!
- American Roots UK

"My albums of 2010"

Crazy Mountain Billies made Mike Morrison's "My Albums of 2010" list on American Roots UK - American Roots UK

"Live review"

“… the one-man-band better known as Crazy Mountain Billies, is a force of nature on the banjo!”
- Rapid City Cultural Trends Examiner

""Badlands II" album review"


I can say with absolute certainty that I have rarely heard anything quite like the Crazy Mountain Billies (or Andy P. Bormes as he is sometimes known!), in fact I can say with the same degree of certainty that no one else has either, unless, of course you delve back into some of the obscure 1920s ‘hillbilly string-bands!’ His nasally vocals have similarities to Danny Barnes of ‘Bad Livers’ fame, in fact some of the music is slightly reminiscent of that band but has very much it’s own individual take on bluegrass, country, punk, hillbilly!

All of the instrumentation is acoustic, some of which I don’t recognize, but the playing is exceptional from this multi talented multi instrumentalist. Included in the mix are various acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, kazoo, jews harp, dobro, fiddle, harmonica, basically all of the elements of Bluegrass, but without being classifiable as being part of that genre.

The album actually kicks off with a gorgeous, mellow, Calexico type instrumental in Dreamtime, which doesn’t actually prepare the listener in any way for what follows. What does follow is the speedy punked up bluegrass of Lost in the valley trees with the droning banjo underpinning the song and acoustic guitar keeping things going. There is even on one or two songs what used to be termed, a ‘Country and Western’ feel, particularly on the title track Badlands (part 2), but it is never allowed to descend into the mellow Marty Robbins territory, thanks in the main to Andy Bormes vocals! The pace, attack and originality of this album never wavers from start to finish with five of the tracks being instrumentals including the brilliantly atmospheric Travellin stranger, which weighs in at nearly eight minutes of excellent playing. Dreary drifters return, another terrific instrumental is evocative of, if not the 1950s & 60s T.V ‘Bonanza’ theme, at least a spaghetti western! The highlight for me is the tale of a rambling man, with a speeded up almost ‘Mull of kintyre’intro in Only beside the lonely riverside. Although there is no threat implied in the lyrics other than a man doing as he pleases and not being too concerned about the opinions of others, the song has a dark, eerie feel to it in much the same way as old Dock Boggs recordings, as does the already mentioned Travellin’ stranger. Quite easy to imagine a band of slightly eccentric hillbillies on a front porch somewhere, entertaining their neighbours to a quite breathtaking musical journey. Even the night noise of frogs and insects, which can sound a little over the top on some similar albums, is quite acceptable on this brilliant modern hillbilly mountain music album! This is the third Crazy Mountain Billies album and is at least the equal of it’s predecessor BADLANDS and the debut DON’T MOVE OR I’LL SHOOT but all are of a consistently high quality! " -Mike Morrison
- American Roots UK

""Badlands" album review"


"A brilliant album of what can almost be described as old time 'hillbilly'. The main instrument apart from the gravelly raw vocals is the banjo, but with mandolin, upright bass, harmonica, jews harp, washboard & dobro in the mix. I've probably listened to it at least a dozen times and it always seems to have something new going on in it! I know very little about the band but want to find out more! Probably the nearest band (that I can think of!) to them would be the Bad Livers, but these are even more Hillbilly, although the playing, particularly of banjo, ranges from excellent to unbelievable! I defy you to listen to this album and not have a smile to yourself; maybe even on your face! " - American Roots UK


“Badlands” - 2009
”Badlands II” - 2010
”Badlands III” - 2011
”Badlands IV” - 2018
”The Mountain Sessions” - 2018
”Journey Into the Backwoods” - 2018



Crazy Mountain Billies is the alias used by multi-instrumentalist musician and vocalist Andy "Banjo" Bormes . His musical style can be described as psychedelic mountain bluegrass music. Originally formed in the Rocky Mountains in 2009, the alias "Crazy Mountain Billies" was used by the musician in the studio while multi-track recording a full ensembles worth of instruments together to get the sound of a full string-band. "Banjo" Andy has drifted up and down the Rockies writing songs about the mountain lifestyle over the years, and has now taken on the Pacific Northwest in pursuit of new adventures. The artist currently tours all over the Western U.S. performing at festivals and venues on a regular basis.

Band Members