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Bluesfest: Grooving with the Lucas Haneman Express

By Alejandro Bustos on July 9, 2015





Lucas Haneman Express perform Real Love (courtesy of YouTube)

Kanata-raised guitarist Lucas Haneman is a natural born musician.  Playing the guitar since the age of 6, the now 28-year-old performer has been turning heads for half of his life.

As a teenager, he started making a name for himself at the Ottawa JazzWorks jam sessions.  He later went to Concordia Univerity where he earned a degree in Jazz Studies, and also released his debut solo record This is What’s Up in 2011.

Now Haneman has put together a blues-funk-rock trio called The Lucas Haneman Express, with Jeff Asselin on drums and Martin Newman playing bass.  The band, which released their debut album Welcome Aboard this past April, plays Bluesfest on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:00 pm at the Monster Energy Stage.

“I have played at Bluesfest four times before in different configurations,and each time it has been a fantastic experience,” says Haneman, who has won numerous awards in his relatively young career.  “To me the festival is truly about getting soulful music out there, and hopefully connecting with a bunch of people who are there for the love of what good music represents in their lives.”

Reflecting on past Bluesfest performances, Haneman recalls playing an indoor concert in 2009 in the Barney Denson Theatre, which is in the Canadian War Museum.  When it started to rain during his set, a large contingent of festival goers who were outside rushed inside resulting in a large audience for his show.

“I know that most people in the audience had no idea who I was, but due to the circumstances I certainly felt that I gave it my all, and met some diehard festival goers after the show,” recalls Haneman, who also plays the mandolin and banjo.  “I always like to think of music as being a force that can bring people together, and on that day it certainly did just that.  That was such a great memory for me as a young musician and I will never forget the experience.”

For their part, Bluesfest audiences should definitely check out Haneman, Asselin and Newman play live, as their show is fun to watch (see the YouTube video below for a sample of their stage presence).


Lucas Haneman Express perform I Don’t Need No Doctor (courtesy of YouTube)

What makes the band’s strong performance even more impressive is that Haneman is legally blind, as he was born with two detached retinas.  But being visually impaired hasn’t stopped the versatile guitarist from winning numerous awards, as well as performing as a studio musician on more than a dozen albums.  In addition, he released is 2012 Go Long (!) Strings Untied, a collaboration with Danielle Allard, Ottawa’s singer/songwriter sensation. 

“There are a lot of great new projects happening in the city, and thankfully there are a number of events going on to highlight these groups,” says Haneman, when asked to comment on Ottawa’s music scene.  “I think that the Jazz Festival, Bluesfest, and Folk Festival have been great mediums in which artists have been able to showcase their talents for years.  Now with the Megaphono festival, the Ottawa Music Index and new venues like Live on Elgin etc we’ve reached entirely new heights in this regard.”

As for what to expect during their July 14 show, Haneman promises Bluesfest fans a soulful performance that is a fun-filled musical ride.

“We are a modern spin on the power trio’s that were so widely regarded in the ’60s and ’70s, but with a big twist,” he says.  ” Our sound pulls from influences as wide as blues, rock, jazz, fusion, reggae and singer/songwriter.  Loosely speaking, I call it a jam band, because there is a lot of musical interaction among the members, and many unexpected surprises in the live performance.


Interview with Lucas Haneman posted in 2014 courtesy of YouTube

The Lucas Haneman Express play Bluesfest on Tuesday, July 14 at 6:00pm at the Monster Energy Stage.  For ticket information you can go to the online Bluesfest ticket site.