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Strange quartet exudes cool scent

Tones' 'Stink Bomb!' album doesn't stink and doesn't bomb

The Strange Tones

Stink Bomb!

(Self-released)

Remember that episode of 'The Flintstones' in which Fred becomes a singing sensation named Hi-Fi, but his career only lasts a couple of weeks because the kids (Wilma and Betty, actually) decide he's a square? Don't laugh, it's not such a far-fetched scenario.

There are musicians whose very livelihood depends on being cool and up-to-date, all the dang time. Sometimes it's a matter of a simple haircut (Good luck with that, Britney). Or, if the artist has time, money and a panel of experts, a complete reinvention Ñ David Bowie and Madonna hold the record for drastic conceptual makeovers.

The Portland four-piece known as the Strange Tones long ago wisely flushed the idea of being up-to-date, but the band exudes an effortless and enviable sense of cool: vintage-suit cool, cheap sunglasses cool, sleep all day and twist all night cool.

The Strange Tones consist of savvy Northwest bar-band veterans who cut their teeth playing with the likes of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Pinetop Perkins, Jon Koonce and the Gas Hogs, Back Porch Blues, Eagle Park Slim and countless others at late-night jams and hangover house parties.

Singer-guitarist Julie Strange used to front Guitar Julie and the Rumblers, and she brings her Lucky Strike-sultry voice to accusatory blues rockers such as 'Who's Been Here?' and 'Look What You Done to Me.' She trades guitar jabs with sure-handed Whit Draper while bassist Andy Strange and drummer J.D. Huge flex and flow as necessary.

Andy and Julie trade some snarling husband-and-wife vocals on 'Runaway Dog,' a smoker that would do the Blasters proud, fortified by some sizzling slide guitar courtesy of former Duffy Bishop associate Henry Cooper. 'Each and Every Night' is a creaky blues that features Julie getting good and riled while the band gradually ratchets up the groove into a soulful sprint.

There are plenty of highlights as the Strange Tones consistently deliver the groceries on strolls, shuffles and sneaky instrumentals. One gets the feeling that these cats could whip it up from sundown to sunup and never break a sweat, let a single strand of hair go awry or allow some drunken clown to slop guacamole on their threads Ñ that just wouldn't be cool.

The Strange Tones play at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at Duff's Garage, 1635 S.E. Seventh Ave., 503-234-2337, $5.

Everybody into the pool

Folks, we're facing a hotter-than-heck August, so steps must be taken to keep the body temperature at a tolerable level, unless sweat is your thing. If heat is the disease, local music promoter Jamie Chvotkin has the cure: Sunday night pool parties for all ages at the Montavilla Pool, 8219 N.E. Glisan St.

'The weatherman predicted less than a half-inch of rain for August,' Chvotkin says. 'We should be all right unless it all falls on a Sunday.'

Chvotkin has bands and DJs lined up for every Sunday in August, beginning this weekend with the 'kickoff party' featuring the turntable skills of DJ Nofader. In addition to aquatic activities Ñ slides, water basketball Ñ and top-notch tunes, there will be a stalwart staff on hand cooking burgers for the hungry masses.

'There's a large grassy area by the pool that's perfect for picnics, barbecues or just lounging around,' Chvotkin says.

Parents concerned that their wee ones might accidentally witness the sight of an electrocuted rocker, or some equally shocking sight after one of Tubby's cannonballs, can rest easy.

'The bands are far enough back from the pool that there won't be a problem,' Chvotkin says reassuringly. 'It would take an awful lot of splashing to get anyone wet.'

Portland Pool Party takes place every Sunday in August, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Montavilla Pool, 8219 N.E. Glisan St., 1-866-739-6874, $5 (food is extra).

Contact John Chandler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..