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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

The Strange Tones

Live in Portland, Oregon, June 2012

Review by Larry Toering

What a hot night of sizzling blue “crime-a-billy” the Strange Tones put on. This is an act that I can't see anyone not enjoying. This band is one fine original bunch, if Portland has ever seen one. They brought the house down, complete with great stage prop gadgets that make everything all the more exciting. They also bring a lot of moves with them. In fact, they do them together at what seems to be any given time, although I'm sure it's more rehearsed than it looks. The excitement is not worth missing one single second of, because if you turn away, you never know what they'll commit behind your back. If you like blues done in a playful and imaginative way, do yourself a favor and catch The Strange Tones.

This is one Astro Van full of awesome from beginning to end, and they keep a dance floor constantly packed with their humorous gags and absolutely killer chops on every instrument. For instance, the bass drum lights up for a cool effect so you can clearly see their logo while playing, and the current drummer himself is none other than recording artist Andy Guathier, a real smoking hot professional who pounds it with the best. These guys bring a contagious sort of disease and spread it around the room to try and lure you into their crimes, and it works at every turn. I couldn't get enough of these showstopping routines they put on with all of their songs.

Lise Blackford
Lise Blackford

They go by names such as “Guitar Julie,” “Andy Strange” and “Suburban Slim.” And each of them play an equal part in the songs they perform and the show they put on. I made it out a couple of years ago to see them, with a different drummer. Although that was a great show and lots of fun, they have polished it all up and wiped it down clean for a killer performing machine who's come a long way since then. With songs like “I Ain't Movin'” and “Mama Makes More,” along with “That's How We Roll” and “The Swangler,” these guys can do no wrong. I'm talking about five time Muddy award winners for best contemporary blues act, and Oregon hall of fame inductees. This band is totally hot to trot, a true northwest secret weapon with ammo to last from here to Memphis, and from there to Mexico.

Lise Blackford
Lise Blackford

They use lighting and stage gadgets like the kind of stuff you see on 60s TV. Hot phones anyone? It just doesn't get any better or more fun than these four rocking blues characters. They do it all, from switching bass and guitar, to three of them singing lead and the drummer on some vocals where needed as well. What a major force to reckon with they are, and all of the counter humor it takes to be just that without losing their own plot. They really brought a fantastic showing to the Mill End's crowd that night, and I hope it's not the last time they do.

Lise Blackford
Lise Blackford
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at
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