Articles 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. 

Thrillride Rides In To Tualatin

Tualatin Times

If variety is the spice of life then Thrillride has many flavors to satisfy your cravings. Just like the type of music they play, you can count on it to be fulfilling. It can be uplifting, energizing, fun, exciting and some of the songs touch on the heartstrings of emotion… in the audience and band alike. Isn’t that what music is all about?

The band’s favorite songs are actually the ones that are their original songs. They are always engaging and the audience loves to participate. Mostly, Thrillride rocks it up, and for variety they can mix in country music too. They play all genres of music depending on the kind of venue or audience they have.

Lead singer, Sam Harmon came up with the name of this band. He says the name represents this “crazy thing called life.” If you want to hear something different, then this is your band to go out and listen to, dance, converse and have a fun night out with your friends. Sam also creates the bands ads and he markets their image creatively because he feels that branding is important to represent a fun and unique experience. Thrillride does fulfill that promise.

The most fun this band has is when there is no barrier between the band and the audience. Sam says, “it really just becomes one big gigantic party with no separation at our shows. The audience starts dancing right away and they don’t stop until the end.” Now that’s a real party! Thrillride likes to fill their first set at venues with a wide mix of music providing everyone with a wide sampling or diverse style of music as that shows more of what’s to come.

At their gigs, whether it is at a festival or a small venue, they get cookin’ right at the start. It can’t be better said that when people come to see this band for the first time, they get it. I think you will too!

The members in Thrillride are Sam Harmon (Lead Vocals), Lofty Whitacker (bass and vocals), Jeff Newman (Drums and vocals) and Cal Runia (guitar and vocals). The band agrees that it’s great that we all can sing! Each member of the band has played for over 20 years.

Thrillride formed twelve years ago. Sam and Cal have been together the entire time. Lofty joined the band two years ago and Jeff joined three years ago. Each band members individuality contributes to the sound of this band. You will find that their sound is a unique hybrid, they make the songs their own and they show passion and expression when they play music. That is the one common factor within the band and it shows. This band knows how to deliver a memorable show, have fun and even have audience members and guests join them on stage, occasionally. This is what makes any Thrillride show unpredictable. They invite people from the audience on stage for their moment of fame or for their own Thrillride.

Some of the great NW musicians that have joined Thrillride onstage include: Ellen Whyte, Melody Guy, Eric and Wendy TwoRivers, the late Paul Love, Billy Reed, Jonathon Chase, Charles Swift, Larry London, Ryan Butson, Moonshine band and more.

Regarding the relationship with the audience, Sam says “We consider ourselves to be servants to the audience, not stars, Jesters or Kings. Our audience is like family.” This band has a loyal following and that is truly appreciated because as Sam says, “we see them on the dance floor rocking out and we can say that we are truly United on the Dance Floor.” Coincidentally, that is also the name of their hit single: United on the Dance Floor. So, when you get the chance, be sure to check this fast-rising NW band out before they are on to bigger things!