Arts

Local trio Go Long (!) succeeds with the help of their “Long Hards”

Selena Hofmann | Fulcrum Contributor

I met up with local acoustic trio Go Long (!) at a coffee shop downtown on a rainy Friday afternoon. It’s been a busy day for them; they’re in the midst of promoting their debut album, Strings Untied. They’ve done two other interviews that day, one of which was at a Bridgehead—much like the one we’re sitting at. I guess it’s no secret that writers love their coffee shops.

The band’s album release party is scheduled for Sept. 30, only nine days away. Danielle Allard, the band’s lead singer, is amazed at the amount of support for the project.

“Everything is speeding up at a pace we couldn’t imagine,” she says.

It all comes with the help of Go Long (!)’s devoted fans, referred to as “Long Hards”. Allard figured that to be a successful band, you should give your fan base a unique name.  Long Hards have been helping with the group’s newest project in many facets; from showing up at gigs to designing a website, people who know the band really want them to succeed.

Strings Untied, which has been in development since last year, is coming out with the support of many friends and family. The actual recording was surprisingly quick, according to guitarist Lucas Haneman.  A multi-faceted musician, Haneman tells me of the hours of intense practice leading up to the studio.

“When we were ready to record, most songs only took one take,” he says. This CD could almost be described as a live album.”

Allard has been singing onstage since the age of nine and attended Ottawa’s Canterbury High School, which is historically known for its arts program. After trying out violin and piano, Haneman decided on guitar at the age of six and eventually graduated from Concordia University with a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance.

The band’s third member, bassist Nicolas Crisafi, has played guitar and bass in a variety of different bands ever since he was a teenager. He’s also released an album of Francophone jazz music called Voir Plus Loin as a solo project.

When I ask how Crisafi joined the band, Allard smiles.

“Well, we are actually engaged,” she says. The two met at a performance that Crisafi and Haneman did together, and as they put it, it was “love at first song.”

Allard and Haneman have been jamming together as long as they have known each other (that is, since high school), while Crisafi and Haneman had performed together in different venues in years past.

The marriage of this trio (both literally and figuratively) has produced an intricately beautiful album. Strings Untied is a mix of covers and original songs.  Their interpretations of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” and Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet” are both unique and fun. The standout original song “Hurricane” makes you feel like dancing around the dinner table—when that banjo kicks in, you can’t help but tap your feet—and the music video is a must-see.  These acoustic artists don’t hold back in experimenting with all sorts of instruments, making use of mandolins, ukuleles, and even congas.

The members of Go Long (!) are extremely modest about their creation. The music is great, but you won’t catch them saying that.  You would, however, immediately feel the passion they have for their art form.  Even after all the crappy venues and bad bookings they’ve endured over the years, Go Long (!) have kept on. Last year, the band opened for Sloan at an outdoor Canada Day concert at Walter Baker Park in Kanata.

Venues of a larger size are actually less intimidating than smaller ones, according to Allard.

“Some bars can barely fit three people on stage,” she says. “Most people don’t expect to hear acoustic music when they go out, so we’ve had to work harder to prove ourselves in those environments”.

Go Long (!)’s first record release is just the beginning.  The band is currently working out the logistics of performing at festivals next summer, and, under the right conditions, a tour could be in the near future.

“We have a van, but we still need a name for it,” says Allard. “We’re open to suggestions.” I tell them about how Said the Whale named theirs “Trailer Swift,” but they’re looking for something a bit cooler.

But of course, not even a lame van name could stop Go Long (!) from wanting to head out on the road. The need to play music is much more important than any amount of cool that could come from it.