Article About Thrillride

Thrillride Takes A Bite Out Of Portland

Positively Entertainment

As he looked out at the crowd assembling in front of The Bite Of Oregon’s big Garden Stage, Thrillride’s Sam Harmon got a big boyish smile on his face. He stated, “This is gonna be fun.” And off he went in to the crowd before the show, giving hugs to friends of the band and thanking them for coming to The Bite. Minutes later, Thrillride was up on stage singing covers and originals like a bunch of college kids playing a frat party, relishing the opportunity to play at one of Oregon’s biggest events.

Thrillride is a labor of love created by veteran musicians Sam Harmon on vocals; Cal Runia on guitar; Jerry Skol on bass guitar; and Jeff Newman on drums. “This time around, it’s for the love of sharing music, fun, brotherhood and life” says Skol. He continues, “We’ve all been there and done that at another time in our individual lives…dreamed of the big time and have come pretty close. We’ve all experienced the complex dynamics and stresses of a band. We now focus only on the fun…for ourselves and those who we are blessed to play for.”

When asked to describe their music, Harmon comments, “I guess it’s a variety of retro-party dance music from many different genres: rock, funk, soul, country…anything that feels good. Hopefully, we’re choosing songs that help us all step away from this thing called life for a few hours, so we can all purge our personal hard-drives and get back to our lives with a feeling of being alive again.”

Even the originals, written by Jerry or Sam have that bit of hook-laden, awesomeness you hear on the radio. Jerry says, “We’re trying our best to adjust our original “Buy My Women” so we can play it at open events, but so far, you either have to hear it on our website or at a venue we’re playing at.” The other originals; Try It, Give It Up, Ladies With An Attitude, Dog Gone, Helen’s Back, Nasty Love, Glad He’s Gone and Never Says No blended seamlessly into their show and were met with much appreciation.

During the hour-long set at The Bite, one song seemed to flow seamlessly into another, spanning multiple genres along the way from funk and country, to classic rock and originals. Photographing this band proved to be a challenge, as lead singer Harmon moved non-stop, changing hats and stage jackets. The backdrop of the Hawthorne Bridge made for a great visual, moving to the music along with the very enthusiastic audience. The wafting aromas from the food booths were intoxicating, the day was cool and crisp, the sound system was top-notch and not too loud. The excellent musicianship and chemistry between the band members was apparent.

The stage show didn’t contain one self-absorbed or apathetic moment, and Harmon’s energy had an inclusive approach to the crowd. He is an engaging character, who is able to convey charm and musical skill expertly while genuinely caring about the crowd’s happiness. The musicians in the band performed flawlessly. Thrillride, consisting of all long-time pros, possesses the skill to stand out individually, while still blending beautifully with one another. “We never worry about each other on stage. We trust each others talents, appreciate our personal interpretations of the songs and allow that to create our style/sound.” drummer, Jeff Newman says. “Sure we make mistakes, but we don’t really care as long as we’re having fun together and with our friends.”

It’s been quite a “Thrillride” over the past seven years. They have been featured at the Oregon State Fair, Washington, Clatsop and Clark County Fairs, Rose Festival, ilani and Seven Feathers Casino, and even an event in Kentucky. and, of course, The Bite of Oregon. For the rest of the year, they are playing at venues all around the Northwest.