In a church in West Roxbury, four musicians played to a small audience seated on a few rows of folding chairs. The tight space could hardly contain their massive sound. Through finger-flying guitar solos, floor-thumping bass, and a nearly eight-minute long drum solo, the band impressed everyone. It was hard to believe, from the sheer energy and intensity of the music, that the oldest one on stage was merely seventeen years old.
The band, Cassidy Deadwater, consists of students from Dedham High School and Westwood High School. Since forming in October of 2015, they’ve played shows in places such as the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston, opening for the Needham-based band Brondhide at a house party, and at talent shows at Dedham High School. They also played an hour long fundraiser set, as previously mentioned, at West Roxbury Main Streets.
Two of the band members are Westwood High School students. Both of them are very active and well-known within the school’s music community. In Cassidy Deadwater, Eli Feldman, a sophomore, plays drums, and Michael Lahiff, a junior, is the lead vocalist.
“We are young, aspiring musicians who play blues and rock music,” Feldman said in an elevator pitch of the band. “We want to bring back the style of old rock music but also put a new twist on it. We play modern songs as well.”
The band, who, as of right now, mostly play covers, have played songs from classic artists such as Jimi Hendrix to more modern groups like Weezer. Despite the range, the band maintains a consistent bluesy sound.
While they play with chemistry and ease now, the band began almost as strangers. Feldman met bassist Tommy Riley at a Halloween party in Dedham, where there to form the band. Dylan Leonard, the guitarist who is also from Dedham, was, at the time, just an acquaintance of Riley. The three began playing together and getting to know each other before adding Lahiff, a friend of Feldman’s from WHS. Recently, they added a rhythm guitarist named Sean.
“We are very comfortable with each other,” Lahiff said, causing Feldman to burst into laughter. While his words came out as sincere, Lahiff’s tone came off as perpetually sarcastic. “There are very little boundaries, and we have no trouble stating our opinions under any circumstance.”
The group operates on a sense of mutual respect and friendship. Despite the fact that they are scattered across two towns, the band has no regrets about their lineup.
“It’s harder to get together sometimes of course,” said Lahiff. “But I’d rather have these people in Dedham than some boring, untalented people in Westwood. We persevere.”
“We do what we have to do for our music, man!” Feldman crooned back.
The band, which does not typically get paid for their services, plays for the love of music.
“Ah man,” Feldman said. “I play music because I have to. For me it’s a stress reliever, because I play drums. If I’m having a bad day or something, I can get my frustration out without taking it out on other people or taking it out on myself, but also because I think I have ideas that other people might enjoy.”
“I don’t know,” Lahiff proposed. “I just like [playing music]. I hum all the time. I’m trying to think of a more sophisticated way of saying it, but a more sophisticated answer cannot come to my head. I just do it because it makes me feel good.”
Sometimes, a more sophisticated answer isn’t necessary.
The passion with which they play music has drawn them a small but tight-knit following. A fan and friend of the band, sophomore Claire Anderson, explained, “Dylan Leonard is awesome at guitar.” She added that “They have a real good sound. Even when [Mike] plays the flute! I just generally like listening to them. I like to listen to recordings of them.”
“They’re comparable to the Spice Girls, but not quite as comparable,” she continued. “Like, not as good. But if you put them all in bikinis and high heels…”
Further, Feldman and Lahiff stated that age differences in the band have had little effect on their dynamic despite the fact that the band is made up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Lahiff did joke, “Senioritis has affected one of our prominent members of the band, and, you know, that hurts motivation a little bit. But we try to bring our youth to its full potential and try to inspire some energy in the person who will not be named, anonymous.”
Leonard, the guitarist, is a senior at DHS and will be attending the University of Massachusetts, Amherst this fall. Feldman stated that Cassidy Deadwater will continue, and that there is already a guitarist lined up to replace Leonard who “also shreds.”
“The music will go on,” Lahiff said.
“The music will go on,” Feldman echoed.
It was also stated that the band’s name, Cassidy Deadwater, will remain. The band is named for a lake in Northwest Piscataquis, Maine, that bassist Tommy Riley found on a map of Maine — a state with which he is “obsessed,” according to Lahiff.
“He proposed the name to us, and we said, yep, it’s better than Velvet Purple, so we never looked back,” Lahiff said, referring to the band’s old name, which appeared on the program for their first show at the Hard Rock.
“Our group chat is still called Velvet Purple,” Feldman laughed, “It’s just a meme now.”
Cassidy Deadwater has plans to continue playing shows throughout the year. Thriving on tight musicianship and tighter friendships, the band shows great promise. For more information about upcoming events, follow @cassidy.deadwater on Instagram. Videos of old performances are also available on YouTube.