Band of the Week: Seafair

Concert Preview

Meet the Band: Chayla Hope (vocals), Ryan Kelly (drums), Michael Flaherty (guitar), Joshua Riehl (bass) Tara Hanish (cello), Andrea Belding (violin)

Bigger is Better: First formed in 2012, Seafair expanded to a four-piece when singer-keyboardist Chayla Hope and guitarist Joshua Riehl recruited drummer Ryan Kelly and cellist Tara Hanish, both of whom had played in the terrific local act Unsparing Sea, to join them. The group then became even bigger when it added guitarist Mike Flaherty and violinist Andrea Belding to the fold. Together, the six create lush soundscapes that have drawn comparisons to Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. "Everybody is very different but it's almost to our benefit because it's a family type atmosphere," says Kelly when asked about the lineup. "Everything flows so smoothly. There's squabbling and stuff like that, but it's smooth for the most part. If something happens to one of the six of us, we'll never have that same magic."

A Bid to Play Bonnaroo: Earlier this year, the band nearly won an online competition to play the big jam band festival Bonnaroo. It fell just short of getting enough votes to take the top spot but beat out some serious competition in a field of sixtysomething bands that were competing. "We got to the final four, which was great," says Kelly when asked about the contest. "It's a bummer because I really wanted to play with Tears for Fears."

The Mile High City: For the new album, The Querencia, the band went to Black in Bluhm Studio in Denver to record with friend Chris Fogal. After several EPs, it's the band's first full-length. "We didn't want the distractions from being at home," says Kelly, adding that the band stayed at a studio for a week and hammered the album out. "We'd wake up and record and go to sleep and wake up and record and go to sleep."

Why You Should Hear Them: The band uses cello and violin in each song, and the music comes off as extremely up-tempo. "We're energetic people," says Kelly. "We're lively, happy people and we all enjoy life. That comes across in our music. 'Birdhouse' is the only sadder song on the record. It's more about missing a loved one. That's the only slower, sadder one. The rest of the songs are upbeat because we're upbeat. We're a rock band. People often think we're a folk band because of the instruments but we're a rock band." A song such as "DIM" features powerhouse vocals and sounds a bit like Florence and the Machine. Kelly describes the ten songs that made the record are "so fluid" and says the four non-classical artists will write the songs and then the classical members will add their arrangements. "It takes our band from being a regular rock band to something totally different."

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Seafair performs with Midnight Passenger and Regret the House at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, at the Grog Shop.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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