Feature August 1993: The Strangers
Last month, a good friend of mine called to tell me he was out on the road working with a band called The Strangers and they were coming to town. Ever the hospitable host, I invited them to come on over to drink some fine Utah beer before the show with me and my honey. Their mothers would have been proud. They didn’t spill, spit, break or steal anything. They said please and thank you and they were nice to my dog (sorry Paul, that scar will go away eventually). When they took the stage later that night at the Dead Goat Saloon though, I realized that mama’s boys they ain’t. These guys play tight, loud rock and roll that won’t let you sit down—harmonic rhythm and groove they like to call it.
The Strangers began with Allen Bush and Bart Ferguson playing together after meeting at the University of Oregon. They, along with Chris McDowell, released Dreams Of The Land, a well-received, 10-song acoustic album, in 1989. Without abandoning these roots, Bart and Allen moved to San Francisco and made a smooth transition from acoustic to electric after hooking up with bassist Henry Smith, drummer Ned Failing and lead guitarist Paul Lesinski. Since then, they have been on tour for almost two and a half years (lookout G N’ R), taking enough time out to record The Joker and the Wheel. A full-length album (well, CD) featuring the band’s three-part harmonies, it contains at least one song from each band member. Yes, they all write. The album is full of songs such as “Willow,” “Song Of The Sunflower” and “Slow and Easy” that have you pushing the rewind button over and over until your significant other threatens to kick you out if you do it one more time.
During a recent interview with Bart during a set break at their April 10 show at the Dead Goat, I found out that: One they just returned from a successful Midwest tour, playing to very receptive crowds in towns like Minneapolis, Minnesota and Lawrence, Kansas. Two, though they live in San Francisco, The Strangers are part of an incredible supportive Northwest scene made up of such bands as We Women, The Renegade Saints and Jambay and Tough Mama. As well as sharing venues, they share beer, floor space, sad tales about tour vehicles (or lack of) and genuine friendship. Third and final, If Bart weren’t on the road this summer, he’d be trying to catch shows with Pearl Jam, Yes, The Spin Doctors and The Allman Brothers Band.
I also talked to Paul for a minute—long enough to find out the band is putting out another disc of all original material in June, something that they hope to shop around to different labels.
Although these guys have shared bills with Colonel Bruce and the A.R.U., Widespread Panic, The Radiators and Little Women, they’ll be on their own when they come back the first week in May. Rumor has it that they are being considered as a headliner for Mayfest. Dates have yet to be announced but you can find out for yourself by writing to Strange News, The Official Chronicle Of The Strangers at P.O. Box 471060, San Francisco, CA, 941 47-1 060. This newsletter contains juicy band info as well as the occasional article about acid rain, but most importantly, it will tell you when The Strangers will be coming to where you are so you have no excuse to miss the next show. See you there.