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Musicians of Moorestown: Trouble With Plaid

Trouble With Plaid is a Moorestown-based classic rock group.

This is the first in a series of articles profiling musicians in Moorestown. This week’s article highlights local band “Trouble With Plaid.”

Their name was quite literally pulled out of a hat. For local musicians Rick McConnell, Gene Clark, Allan Hanlon, Andy Cross and Paul Toepel, their band, Trouble With Plaid, came together naturally through a series of connections. The band is less about perfection and more about having a good time playing with friends who share a love for classic rock.

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McConnell said the band started with his son, Ryan McConnell, who went to school with Hanlon’s son. One day he was at the Hanlon household, when Ryan and Hanlon started to jam on guitars, and from then on, the duo started playing together.

Ryan came home one night and told his father they were in need of a bass player and another vocalist, so McConnell found himself in the group. From there, McConnell extended an invitation to Clark, who plays drums, to join and round out their sound with percussion. The foursome was the first iteration of Trouble With Plaid.

The name came when the group went to perform a friend’s beerfest. Realizing they didn’t have a name, they offered up a growler of craft beer to whoever named the band and attendees happily put their suggestions into a hat.

The winner, Trouble With Plaid, came from a joke between Ryan and a friend. According to McConnell, the friend said every time he saw Ryan he was wearing a plaid shirt and seeing the same attire constantly caused him some trouble.

Today, the group has put its own spin on the name. Clark said whenever they perform, most will wear plaid while one or two who have “trouble with plaid” will not.

When Ryan moved to Pennsylvania with his family two years ago, the band brought on Cross and Toepel to round out the sound. At the time, Toepel, a keyboard player, was looking for a new group to play with, and Cross, a guitarist, had been playing with a group at the First Presbyterian Church of Moorestown.

In its first iteration, Trouble With Plaid stuck to mostly acoustic sets playing a lot of The Avvett Brothers’ tunes and songs spanning anywhere from the 1960s to the early 2000s.

“We would do all kinds of acoustic things that we could throw a lot of harmony into, so that’s where we kind of got our start,” McConnell said.

Today, the second iteration has taken on much more of a rock sound, Toepel said. Their set list includes the likes of Tom Petty, the Eagles and Warren Zevon. McConnell said crafting their sets is a “very homogenous” process with every band member throwing out songs to the group and everyone giving their feedback.

The group practices once or twice a month at Cross’ Moorestown home. Apart from Toepel, who lives in Mount Laurel, all of the members live in town, and most of their gigs take place in and around Moorestown.

Clark said they average around six performances a year. They play at the First United Methodist Church’s coffee houses as well as The Moorestown Department of Parks & Recreation’s summer concerts on the Community House lawn.

“We’re not working hard for the money,” Toepel said with a warm laugh. “We’re just doing it for fun,”

Since reforming and taking a more rock-driven sound, the band is headed in a new direction, and Clark said he could even see them hitting the nightclub circuit in the near future. He said for all of them, playing together is just easy.

“I think everybody’s kind of on the same wavelength with what they like to play and what they enjoy,” Clark said.

To get updates on Trouble With Plaid or find out about their upcoming performances, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Trouble08057.

Know a local band, vocalist or performer who should get featured in the series? Email Kelly Flynn at kflynn@newspapermediagroup.com with suggestions.

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