Rick Lollar is an Atlanta-based guitarist, singer and songwriter who has united his disparate influences and abilities into a singular musical voice. He emerged at age 13 as a blazing blues guitar prodigy in the local scene of his native Tallahassee, Florida. But Lollar quickly began to seek a broader artistic conception and form his own identity, inspired not least by one of his first guitar heroes and role models: Jimmy Herring. Now as a member of Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7, Lollar has achieved a dream and come full circle, going toe-to-toe with Herring in a spirit of genuine musical partnership.
Lollar’s guitar work, raw and blues-drenched yet stamped with the harmonic and rhythmic invention of jazz, is integral to The 5 of 7. But just as central is Lollar’s gritty, expressive singing voice and his gift as a songwriter and lyricist (The 5 of 7 is Herring’s first venture to feature songs with original lyrics). Before The 5 of 7, Lollar refined his guitar-and-vocal concept with the Rick Lollar Band (Soulful Hang, 2012) as well as his funky blues-rock outfit King Baby (The Big Galoot, 2017).
It was King Baby that led straight to the encounter with Herring: the band shared two members in common with Herring’s The Invisible Whip (keyboardist Matt Slocum and bassist Kevin Scott). When Herring heard The Big Galoot he joked that he wanted to join the group. The thought turned out to be serious: Herring envisioned a new project in which he wasn’t the sole melodic focus. Partnering with the multitalented Lollar gave him precisely what he needed.
Lollar studied jazz at Florida State University, at the feet of such greats as pianist Marcus Roberts (or “J Master,” as Wynton Marsalis dubbed him). He also formed close musical bonds with fellow students including Jamison Ross, the Monk Competition-winning drummer and vocalist. Ross’s Grammy-nominated 2015 debut Jamison Ross prominently featured Lollar’s crisp and versatile guitar work; the 2018 follow-up All for One found Lollar sharing a number of songwriting credits with the likeminded Ross, whose music draws from a similarly deep well of soul, blues and jazz.
For two years Lollar worked with the pop/rock group Larkin Poe, which opened for Elvis Costello on tour and served as Costello’s backing band for a number of shows. Immediately after Larkin Poe, Lollar took up with Atlanta jam-band legend Col. Bruce Hampton, likening the experience to a “university” in which he learned to be more fully himself and tap into all the joy and human connection that music offers. (Jimmy Herring is a Hampton alumnus as well, giving him and Lollar another deep point of simpatico.)
In addition to The 5 of 7, Lollar has worked since 2014 in another two-guitar band: Kenosha Kid, the brainchild of eclectic fellow guitarist Dan Nettles, a native of the small but influential indie-rock haven of Athens, Georgia. On the 2019 Kenosha Kid release Missing Pieces, Lollar summons an array of electric and acoustic textures within Nettles’ spacious, emotive instrumental compositions, joined by Atlantans Robby Handley (bass) and Marlon Patton (drums). With Patton, Lollar also formed an unorthodox rock duo called Weisshund, heard on the 2017 EP More of Us, in which Lollar plays guitar and sings and Patton plays drums and Moog bass pedals simultaneously (both share songwriting credits). In Weisshund, as in all of Lollar’s endeavors, what shines through as much as the great virtuosity and bite of his guitar is his love, as he puts it, for “a great song and a great telling of it.”
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