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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston band Alongside Harold’s country-Americana sound sticks to its local roots

Lydia Plahn/The Daily Northwestern
Alongside Harold band members, from left to right: Jeremy Manier, Susan Abraham, Max Shapiro, Jane Holt, and Doug Holt in the basement where they rehearse.

From Russian harmonica lessons and patio practice sessions to performances at SPACE, Americana band Alongside Harold is always evolving. 

Evanston band Alongside Harold was formed in 2016. While aspects of the group have changed over the years, its commitment to local, live music has remained constant. 

In 2016, three members — Jane Holt, Doug Holt and Susan Abraham — were at an acoustic show where Susan first performed and sang a Led Zeppelin song. The rest of the band fell together soon after, with Abraham bringing in drummer Max Shapiro, and by the end of the year, Doug Holt had run into his old bandmate Jeremy Manier — the band’s bassist — at a Chicago professional conference. “I would say it was all serendipity,” Abraham said. 

The name of the band took more time, though. 

After a brief stint as “Central Station,” the band rebranded to “Alongside Harold,” a reference to hardware store Harold’s True Value Hardware on Central Street. Four of the five members live ‘alongside Harold’ in the store’s neighborhood.

“But we were struggling with the name for a long time,” Doug Holt said. 

Evanston is not just a place to play shows or to rehearse for the band, but a community and a live music scene they are grateful to be a part of. They feel “really lucky” to be in Evanston, Doug Holt said. 

Part of this luck is the relationship the band has formed with SPACE, a music venue in Evanston. 

Originally, SPACE was focused on regional and national acts, but Alongside Herald got a call when another band canceled. They recently played at SPACE for the fifth time on January 18th. 

“We can fill the room or get a decent crowd there,” Doug Holt said. “I think they saw, actually, that this sound sounds good and people are having a good time … there is a place for it.”  

Alongside Harold’s music is country-influenced rock with a full-band sound that fills up a space –– including the basement covered in records, family photos and books where they rehearse. The group can effortlessly flow from a Fleetwood Mac cover to an original and back to Neil Young track, making for versatile sets. 

The adaptability of Alongside Harold comes from the band members’ maturity and desire to constantly push themselves to learn new skills and master new songs. 

“When you get older and you have kids, to lean into things that are risky and creative, at least for me, you have to be intentional about it,” Jane Holt said.

Alongside Harold is currently rehearsing for its next show on Feb. 29. Playing Double Clutch Brewing Company at 7 p.m., the band will perform a set that includes classic rock covers, country hits and original music. 

Performing shows and rehearsals are ways for the band to continue to learn new things and keep growing as people, Abraham said.

“One of the great things about the band is that, I was playing for a long time, but there are things that I’ve done with this band that I didn’t do before,” Manier said. 

Email: [email protected]

X: @LydiaPlahn13

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Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Alongside Harold’s involvement with the “Out of Space” music series. The group played at an “Out of Space” afterparty. The Daily regrets the error.

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