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Mooney: “We had so much fun playing together.” Photo courtesy of SolShifter.

Drummer Madison Winchell III accomplished a rare feat for a local rock ’n’ roller. He played in two bands that went national. That was Winchell slapping the skins from 1990 to 1992 with the Toadies before beginning his stint with Pimpadelic that ended in 2004.

The Pimpadelic years whisked him away on a wild ride that every rocker dreams about.

“We got a record deal,” Winchell said. “We toured. It was a whole different style of music, a crazy situation, and a fun time.”

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Post-Pimpadelic, he played a short stint with Casey Donahew’s country band before hitting the brakes.

“I was done, dude,” he said with a laugh. “I needed a break to see what I wanted to do. One year leads into another, and you look up, and it’s been 10 years and you haven’t even played.”

During the hiatus, he raised children and married Jennifer Winchell, a gifted singer. In 2018, they formed a cover band with Winchell’s best buddy, guitarist Steve Dzwilewski, and performed as UrbanGypsy at local clubs.

Their setlist included a couple of Toadies songs, and Jennifer made a suggestion — why not invite former Toadies guitarist Charles Mooney III and bassist Lisa Umbarger to sit in at a show and play on the Toadies cuts? Mooney and Umbarger were out of the music scene at the time but agreed and showed up for a rehearsal.

The music and camaraderie flowed.

“It was perfect chemistry,” Winchell said.

Umbarger, whose abrupt departure from the Toadies mid-tour in 2001 is reportedly what broke up the band, could still hammer the bottom end. The two guitarists melded well. Everyone’s personalities jelled. The sound was warm and full.

“It felt so good,” Mooney said. “We had so much fun playing together.”

The three-piece cover band turned into a five-piece original outfit. A year later, SolShifter has written 15 songs and recorded three. They still perform several Toadies hits from the Rubberneck album (1994) but lean on the new material. Mooney describes the sound as “straightforward rock,” while Winchell calls it “melodic” with power guitars, Marshall amps, lots of feedback, and a “back to the basics” approach.

I had to ask Winchell: Did you think about asking Toadies frontman Todd Lewis as well?

Uh. No.

Jennifer Winchell has “an exceptional voice that works with what we’re doing,” her husband/drummer said. “It works with any style of music we play or write. It’s awesome. It’s a perfect band the way it is.”

They call themselves SolShifter for no other reason than the name looks and sounds cool, and it’s been splashed on marquees at the Lola’s Saloon, The Moon Bar, the Rail Club, the Ridglea Room, and Haltom Theater.

“We played our last show with The Dangits [at The Moon], and it was a great show,” Winchell said. “It was packed. Huge buzz.”

On March 20, SolShifer was set to make its Dallas debut at Gas Monkey when COVID-19 shuttered the club scene.

“That was going to be our biggest show to date,” Winchell said. “Everything was building up.”

Mooney compared the pandemic shutdown to a “sucker punch.”

The band has continued to rehearse and is ready to nail its return gig on Saturday at the Ridglea Room.

Nowadays, when Winchell picks up his drumsticks, he feels a touch of déjà vu mixed with a splash of high hopes.

“I’ve played in a lot of bands, and this is by far my favorite,” he said. “We would like to do what Pimpadelic and the Toadies have done for Fort Worth. Those were two big bands. I would like to feel three times a charm. SolShifter is that quality of music.”

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