The Harea Band got things off to an energetic start early Tuesday night under the Bluesville tent, with their sophisticated brand of pop funk jazziness that had the crowd unable to sit still. I was immediately taken by the music and its uplifting themes which flowed straight into my heart and straight down to my feet.
From the first song, lead singer Alex Harea commanded the stage and took the audience on a feel-good ride of infectious rhythms and a multi-instrumental, genre-hopping melange of pop, jazz, latin and disco flavours. Harea’s vocal melodies were percussive and at times wove in and out of falsetto and spoken segments.
The band has now grown into a six-piece from what started as a trio in 2013. Each was highlighted individually, with a special and specific job to do, but together they brought a magical gel of wall to wall sound. Founder, lead singer, and principal songwriter Alex Harea talks about the evolution of the band and the music:
“I started the project in 2013, with Mike Giamberadino, who at the time was our original drummer. We’ve gone through a lot of line-up changes since we began as a trio, and now we’re a six piece and have been so for the past year. We now have a new drummer and Mike has shifted over to electronic percussion and keyboard. We’ve also been reshaping our sound from what was more of an indie/pop sound. A lot of those earlier songs are now cut out of our setlist and have been taken down from social media while we go through a big rebrand. Our main focus is building our PR and social media presence, pushing our content, putting out really good music, and spreading our wings a little more across Canada. We like to make people dance with the new music we’re putting out now. I’m a big Jamiroquai fan… I like that modern latina soul kinda sound, a fusion of pop and rhythmic soul music.”
Early in the set, a song called “Kingscript” jumped out with its thick bassline and its 80’s new age vibrancy which was brought to life with a great use of effects processors on both keyboards and guitar. Their flavourful use of synth added the right amount of bells and whistles to the material, while maintaining a very organic sound. Their new single release, “Please Hold”, took a turn into a slow rocking three quarter blues, with smouldering minor chords that were very reminiscent of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”. Beautiful rhythm builds with matching vocal accents brought some nice textural breaks in the flow of the song. Very pretty harmonies sung by Cynthia Tauro, a great guitar solo by Liam Meagher, and short sax synth interludes by way of Mike Giamberadino on the talk box also created additional dimension.
“Try It Again” marked a return to the faster-paced material that retriggered the crowd’s dancing feet. Cynthia shone once again as she played out a cool jazz progression on the keys while bassist Harrison Singer plugged out a thick backbone drive, ever present in all the material. At one point, the band cleared to the side of the stage to let Andrew Ferderber loose on the drum kit with a solo that brought a swell of applause from the audience. As the set continued, the audience grew into a massive crowd that surrounded the stage, and by the end, didn’t want to let them go. Harea Band is definitely making a name for themselves in Ottawa and their performance at Bluesfest most definitely garnered them another fine fresh crop of fans.
RBC Bluesfest runs from July 6–16, 2017 at LeBreton Flats. Visit ottawabluesfest.com for the lineup and schedule. Keep checking back for more Apt613 Bluesfest coverage and follow us on Instagram for the latest photos.