If there’s one good thing that we can take away from 2020, it’s the Todd Harrold Collective.
It’s the newest power trio to hit our local scene with the fire and angst reminiscent of pioneer three-piece acts like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Police, Cream, and James Gang.
Extra time to experiment
It all came in fruition back in March while most things in the world were put on hold, as was Harrold’s streak of 16 years without having a weekend off from performing.
Now, that’s either a sign of a man not wanting to stay home or a man passionate about music. With 40-plus years of performing, teaching music lessons, hosting a local radio show, and previously working at a record store, we should go with the latter.
While in quarantine, Harrold was like many musicians, eager to get out of the house and perform live again. Clearly, that wasn’t possible for the drummer since we were in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
But then a couple of guys he was frequently performing with were faced with schedules that weren’t as flexible as they once were. That’s when discussions began with local bassist Chandler Cashdollar about the possibility of putting something together or just getting together to jam.
“I’ve known Chandler for quite awhile and share similar music interests, so I knew that would work,” Harrold said in an interview with Whatzup. “But as things progressed, the question arose of who we would have on guitar.
“Chandler quickly suggested Atticus Sorrell. Trust me, there’s no denying his guitar playing, but I figured he was too busy with his band The Be Colony at the time.”
Sometimes you just have to take a shot, which is exactly what they did. The guys ended up reaching out to Sorrell on his birthday, of all days, to see if he was up for a jam session.
“Things went great during the first rehearsal, so we asked him if he wanted to come back on Saturday, then Tuesday, and then the next thing you know we’re rehearsing three times a week,” Harrold said. “Before long, the COVID hippie jam band was created!”
Primed to Jam
After an abundance of rehearsals, a plethora of tunes under their belt, and some area establishments beginning to open up a bit, the boys were ready to bring this blistering blast of funk to the people.
The trio performed a handful of dates in June, ten in July, and eleven in August. If you have picked up any issue of Whatzup in the last couple of months or followed the Todd Harrold Collective Facebook page, then you’re aware of how active this well-oiled machine has become.
Plus, no matter if it’s on a patio, an area winery, Lunch on the Square, or a park in Monroeville, these cats bring the same ebullient, infectious energy each and every time. It’s that energy that the crowd feeds off, especially when they lay down numbers from such artists as Sly and the Family Stone, Al Green, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Dr. John, and Traffic.
The late ’60s and early ’70s vibe will definitely have your foot tapping.
Back to performing live
Talking with Harrold, you can hear that youthful excitement in his voice about playing with these guys almost as if he has found the fountain of youth.
After all, Harrold has a few years on the other guys and admits that people seeing them for the first time are probably thinking, “Who are these guys?”
“You have this old guy, and two young guys, and they play soul music,” Harrold said. “However, playing with these two has got me back to my roots and playing things I haven’t played for years. I mean, we’re at rehearsal one day, and Atticus suggests we do ‘I’m a Man’ by Chicago, and I’m like, ‘Hell yeah!’”
It’s that sort of connection and direct line to music that brings out the best in this band.
Listening to them out at the Club Room a couple months back, this writer witnessed Harrold brilliantly driving the train with uncompromising physicality and an incomparable embrace of funk bounce and sophisticated jazz-tinged swing. Combine that with the stark, defiant tones laid down from the plucking fingers of Cashdollar and Sorrell’s elements of blues, funk, psychedelia, rock, and utter chaos.
Together, it completely works and it’s the most radical soul you’re going to hear.
Pre-COVID, performing live was something many artists took for granted. But then in the blink of an eye, shows were gone.
Many did the best they could during that time with live streams and such, but with stay-at-home orders now lifted, it’s game on.
“Playing is our top priority right now,” Harrold said. “We have quite a bit of shows booked for the remainder of the year and already adding dates for 2021. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll record something, but right now we just want to play and get some sort of normalcy. And with some of us in other projects, I’m going to play with these guys as long as they want to play with me.”
Let’s hope that’s for a long while.
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