The Hippo


Jul 5, 2020








Slack Tide. Photo by Phramed.

Slack Tide 

When: Saturday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m.
Where:  Fody’s Great American Tavern,  9 Clinton St., Nashua
Chris Cyrus appears solo on Friday, Feb. 23, at Stella Blu, 70 East Pearl St., Nashua

The space between
Slack Tide connects two good-time genres

By Michael Witthaus

 The jam band classification typically denotes a freewheeling musical spirit, plus a fondness for open-ended exploration. For Slack Tide, however, this attitude helped build the group; it’s how a new horn player and keyboardist joined up.  

“I was at a rehearsal ... and they just hopped in and started playing with us,” Chris Cyrus, founder, front man and guitarist, said recently. “I said, ‘Hey, you guys sound really good — want to be in the band? You start tomorrow.’”
Chris Dorsey’s energetic trumpet (in recent months augmented by sax player Simon Pajaro), coupled with Andy Sepe’s old-school organ chops, gives the group an extra burst of power. This is evident on the new release, Live in Harlem. Recorded at two venues in NYC, it captures the mojo Cyrus was looking for when he formed Slack Tide in 2015.
Cyrus cut his boogie teeth listening to performers like Jack Johnson, Sublime, and Reel Big Fish, but he’s also a big fan of ’60s psychedelic rockers like Cream, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and, of course, the Grateful Dead. 
“My two big influences were hippie rock and white boy reggae,” he said, “and to make the best party I can.”
Pondering a middle ground between the two genres, he came up with the band’s name. 
“It’s a term reflecting the space between low and high tide,” Cyrus said. “Finding that balance in the middle, where everything can kind of ... be at home.”
The six-piece band includes three Berklee graduates — Cyrus, Pajaro and Dorsel attended the Boston music school. Cyrus grew up in a musical household; his father is a high school band instructor and his mom played violin professionally. They persuaded him to apply. 
“I originally went to a school in Maine, but my parents were very convincing,” he said. “And you do get to meet a lot of very talented musicians and creative minds.”
He admits, however, that the musical direction he took wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. 
“My parents are proud of me, but it’s definitely not something that they put on their iPod,” he said. “They’re more into jazz and classical, more sophisticated music. ... I jump out there with no shirt on and an electric guitar. I’m just glad they are supportive.”
Cyrus notes that adding a horn section helped. 
“That was definitely a turning point,” he said. “It was the first time they actually stayed through a whole show, when I had horns.”  
Slack Tide has appeared at some festivals, including Ziontific, where they will return in June. They’re currently vying for a slot on a battle of the bands for this spring’s Strange Creek gathering. Last year, they joined with a group of friends to put on their own Holifest.
“It was at my friend’s backyard in Hampton Beach,” Cyrus said. “We had two Hampton-based bands [and] the gimmick was that everyone got a bag filled with ground up chalk so while the band was playing, you got to fling colorful chalk in the air and make everything look crazy.  But our equipment was destroyed after that. I had to clean the guitar amp with a toothbrush for three hours.” 
A New Hampshire native, Cyrus finds the regional music scene a cohesive one. Slack Tide plays often at Seacoast venue Stone Church, and is making headway throughout the rest of the state. A Saturday, Feb. 24, show at Fody’s in Nashua is the band’s second, and Cyrus will precede it with a Friday solo set at Stella Blu, where he’ll play Grateful Dead covers. 
“It’s surprisingly big. ... I could list a million local bands that I’m friends with,” he said. “It’s a great community, because whenever bands get gigs, they’ll pull their friends with them. So you start seeing the same bands over and over, but in different combinations. It really does lead to people being really supportive and going to more shows.” 

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