Sly-Chi [chee], from Portland, Maine, defies your standard musical genres. It takes more than a word to describe their style. There’s funk, soul, a little R&B - all with an underlying jazz edge. Throw in the classic rock and you’re pleasantly...
Sly-Chi [chee], from Portland, Maine, defies your standard musical genres. It takes more than a word to describe their style. There’s funk, soul, a little R&B - all with an underlying jazz edge. Throw in the classic rock and you’re pleasantly confused. This unique combination - along with the sheer size of the band - creates an unmistakable energy. The group has horns, 4 singers, and a super-tight rhythm section to support all that sound. They pack dance floors much like the bands they’re often compared to - Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Brand New Heavies. Just ask their devoted fans. The group’s been around since 1999 and has a huge following in Maine. And with a number of out-of-state shows in recent years, their fan base has grown. Add to that their 2004-released debut CD, Wave Sound, which hit the charts in Maine and New Hampshire, as well as a record-breaking number of wins in the Portland Phoenix’s annual Best Music Poll, and you’ve got a group that’s only scratched the surface of its success.
Best R&B/Soul/Blues Act 2008 by Best R&B/Soul/Blues Act Sly-Chi couldn’t be more different than a lone bluesman stomping on the stage, but are no less powerful. Sly-Chi are at least eight members strong, with horns and multiple singers and a briefcase...
Traction for the Local Music Scene by Jaeger Wells Sly-Chi are living legends of the Portland music scene, having been in existence for 11 years now. These guys have been serving up original funk to the masses of New England, expanding their reach...
Best R&B/Soul/Blues Act 2008 by Best R&B/Soul/Blues Act Sly-Chi couldn’t be more different than a lone bluesman stomping on the stage, but are no less powerful. Sly-Chi are at least eight members strong, with horns and multiple singers and a briefcase of wah pedals hiding in the trunk. This is a party band in traditional Portland-scene style. They’re able to play the bar all night and they’ve got the chops to play pretty much anything so expect a little jazz in your funk and rock in your R&B. Sly-Chi have been very busy this year; their new album, The Space, is available for local fans and is making its way to a few hundred college radio stations so the band can capitalize on its increasing visibility outside of Maine. Worry not; the band plan to stick around for the busy summer season. Start it up on June 13 at RiRa.
Traction for the Local Music Scene by Jaeger Wells Sly-Chi are living legends of the Portland music scene, having been in existence for 11 years now. These guys have been serving up original funk to the masses of New England, expanding their reach farther than Motor Booty Affair has in recent years. Their 2004 release Wave Sound, is one of the definitive titles I believe everyone should have in their Portland music collection. Now, Sly-Chi offered up a brand new EP at the end of last year, entitled Seven in the Shadows, and let me tell you that it does not disappoint.
This five song offering hits the ground running with the opening track Move This Way, which through me off at first, with the more pop-centric feel to the tune, almost with a Chicago mixed with Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke" feel. However, it keeps up the danceable pace and immediately is an attention grabber. The album then heads into more of the soul-funk feel that Sly-Chi is known for with the second track . While the song structure is quite traditional, the group spices it up through the magnificent horn hits. Seriously folks, these are probably some of the greatest horn parts out there today in modern music. Crisp, tight hits accenuate the musical breaks and vocals to perfection. The groove provided by drummer David Henault drives the band and drives the listeners to be cautious about the subconscious dancing they will be doing while listening to this record. It is hard for me to pick a favorite track off this well-crafted album, but if I had to choose it would be the latin-funk closing track Con Corazon. It plays out like a homage to Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban hit Manteca and a Weather Report tune. In conclusion Sly-Chi has cemented themselves as heavy-hitters in the Portland music scene, and this record just goes to show that they aren't going anywhere. You can buy Seven in the Shadows on iTunes at this link here or at your local Bull Moose Music store.
Seven Up by Sam Pfeilfe Because Sly-Chi are so versatile, and can adopt any number of danceable skins, there can be a tendency to read their individual songs in great chunks, like sentences we've read a hundred times.
And because they are such a ubiquitous and talented live band, there's a tendency to see them in your head instead of hearing them in your ears: horns arced upright when playing, swaying side to side at rest; and since May 2006, Kelly McKenna wrapped around the mic.
But things are different now, and with new EP Seven in the Shadows the remaining Sly-Chi members are determined to move on following McKenna's departure, with four songwriters penning five songs that all sit between four and five minutes and show off their talents for jazz, R&B, funk, and Latin big-band music.
In fact, you might be fooled by the R&B slow burn of "I'll Never Stop Loving You." No, that's not a chick (even if it sounds an awful lot like Millie Jackson doing "If Loving You Is Wrong I Don't Wanna Be Right"). It's Brian Pierce. According to saxman Brian Graham, who wrote the piece, a turn as part of the Journey vs. Heart Clash of the Titans made it clear that Pierce was very comfortable singing high parts, so the band just started writing for him. Thus an androgynous bit where it's a little unclear who "would be nothing/Nothing without you." And Graham gets off the best baritone-sax solo I've heard in Portland in a long time.
It's matched by Jay Desormeau's guitar break on "Move This Way," a look-back anthem that threatens to be "one of those songs where a band plays a dance song and sings about dancing," but manages to infuse some resiliency and perspective into Tyler Stanley's heavy pop: "You gotta know that every note at every show ain't the same old, same old routine.
If there's one thing that's consistent about this EP it's an earnestness and lack of cynicism that makes the little girl's giggle the band uses as punctuation in Pierce's "The Light with a Smile" seem completely natural, and Rafael Keilt-Freyre's salsa-fueled "Con Corazon" uplifting rather than naive when it asks, "could it be enough if we just gave our love?" But that earnestness means not enough surprises: The songs are what I thought they'd be.
But this isn't a cerebral album, anyway. It's beside the point to talk about lyrics and who wrote what. This is a collection of songs for air-drumming to David Henault's cymbals, for cleaning the house to, for playing loud and getting silly. It's a ton of fun, and just a taste of what's to come.
SEVEN IN THE SHADOWS | Released by Sly-Chi | at the Big Easy, in Portland | Dec 19 |www.slychi.com