Crime-A-Billy may be their latest CD, but this music will live on to become cla
This review runs to the deep rumbling rhythms of a fast moving train, overlaid with the sounds of fingers ripping through heated steel guitar strings and hard-driving vocals. It’s not about mainstream music, its about timeless music that rocks to the very soul. All artists are inspired by traditions. Artists blend, rebut, joke, reprimand, question and celebrate traditions. The trick is to find and stay true to their own signature voice and sound, to tell a story, while making the message uniquely their own and not just another cliché. The Strange Tones capture you with their unique music and rate as one of our best local bands hot on the scene today.
The tradition-inspired melodies, beats, rhythms, harmonics and theories that affected the Strange Tones tunes are composites of a wide range of roots music drawn from and successfully melding a plethora of styles into one uniquely original composition. The basic structure of their music is orderly, repeating and finite, but the variations are infinite. Though based in traditional values, their lyrics are pandemic to the current human experience, creating twisted, modern and bizarrely funny images of pop culture today. Crime-A-Billy may be their latest CD, but this music will live on to become classic Americana.
On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Strange Tones released their newest recording, Crime-A-Billy. On that night, the Who's Who of blues were hanging out at the bar nursing their Burning Heart(s) at the family friendly, barbecue restaurant and blues café Beale Street NW. This roots music venue is famous for its wonderful owners, sizzling entertainment, great service, tasty food and large dance floor. If you live in Portland this is a hot spot for roots music and traditional, home style, southern comfort cooking. Their barbecue and sauces rate with the best you can buy this side of the Mississippi. Located at 10721 N.E. Sandy Blvd. in Portland, it is strongly recommended.
“Guitar Julie” Strange is a local poster child. In fact her bands' posters plaster the walls at most local clubs and they are Wanted all over the northwest. Julie Strange plays a mean guitar and passionately belts out some of the most soulful, gutsy, twisted and funny songs in the lower 48. The Strange Tones fun lovin' band includes Portland's own “Guitar Julie” Strange; her husband, the get-down-and-funky bass player and vocalist Andy Strange. Andy also occasionally surprises his audience by refurbishing unusual instruments in traditional ways and traditional instruments in unusual ways.
Burn-it-up-finger-picking-hands-on-fire guitarist and vocalist Suburban Slim is rumored to be one of the most innovative guitarists in town. Suburban Slim is a fabulous singer with vocal tonalities that are powerful, pleading, lilting and smooth. Can you keep a secret? He plays trumpet sometimes too.
Like a guitar player's dream come true, their straight-but-not-square man, the-take-no-prisoners, killer drummer JD Huge masterfully lays down their signature rhythm-within-rhythm beats. This guy creates the solid timing over which those guitar licks and vocals can really fly. Having this secure base to work with allows these three master guitarists to literally go to town, creating a dynamic combination of sounds that are guaranteed combustible.
This traditional blues line up of three guitars and a drummer demonstrates a deep understanding of roots music's hard core truths. This hard rockin', surf-blues-a-billy ensemble, with their no-holds-barred attitude, takes us as their prisoners and there is no escape. Their influences range from Screamin' Jay Hawkins to Lou Reed. There is a cool little video you can open in their website and get a sample of their music and road-traveled humor.
The smiling is contagious as is the laughing and singing to the Strange Tones’ memorable lyrics. Their music is alive with stories. You can't help but sing them. Even their instrumentals are stories. Couched in these stories thrives the secret to successful life but you've got to decode it. To do that, you must check your daily self at the door, give in and get down.
Be certain to check out their website for more info and a look at their cool video at: http://strangetones.com.