What makes Canadian blues man Harry Manx unique?
It is in the way he mixes blues and Indian ragas with anything from Americana to rock – playing predominantly solo, armed only with an array of instruments, foot pedals and a laptop.
He has been called an “essential link” between the music of East and West, creating musical short stories that wed the tradition of the blues with the depth of classical Indian ragas to create a unique sound that is hard to forget and deliciously addictive to listen to.
Harry forged his distinctive style by studying at the feet of the masters, first as a sound man in the blues clubs of Toronto during his formative years and then under a rigorous tutelage with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in India.
Bhatt is the inventor of the 20-stringed Mohan Veena, which has become Harry’s signature instrument.
Such was Harry’s meticulous streak that he unlearned most of what he knew about playing a slide instrument; and started from scratch under Bhatt’s tutelage.
He learned Eastern scales and eventually ragas, deceptively complex and regimented musical patterns that form the basis of Indian composition. Harry spent most of twelve years in India mastering the regimented Indian classics and later decided to explore the connection between Indian ragas and blues scales which eventually led to the Indo-blues hybrid that has become his style.
“Still a Blue at Heart”, Harry admits he is still groovy and “that’s the way I play blues”, he said talking to Bharat Times.
Manx’s time in India has imbued his music with an intangible spiritual quality “the song reveals who you are, it’s the vehicle for your message, your inspirational ideas or your story,” explained Manx.
“Indian music moves a person inward,” he explains. “It’s traditionally used in religious ceremonies and during meditations because it puts you into this whole other place.
“But Western music has the ability to move you outward, into celebration and dance. There are some ragas that sound bluesy, and there are ways to bend strings while playing blues that sound Indian.
“I may be forcing the relationship between the two musical cultures, but I keep thinking they were made for each other. That leads me to more and more experimentation. The journey has been great so far.”
Blending Indian folk melodies with slide guitar blues; adding a sprinkle of gospel and some compelling grooves, that’s the sound that Harry lays down.
It goes down easy and leaves you hungry for more.
Harry Manx is a prolific artist, releasing 12 albums in a 12 year span. Amonghst many other awards, his 2013 release, “Om Suite Ohm” was voted by the Montreal daily La Presse as one of only four CDs to watch for in that year.
Guitar Player Magazine called it “his most fully realized work to date”.
Internationally renowned organist and keyboard player Clayton Doley will join Harry for a selection of songs during his MEMO performances in Melbourne.
Canadian Indo-Blues legend Harry Manx @ two exclusive Melbourne Shows on
14 and 15 January 20016 at MEMO Music Hall in St Kilda. More info at www.memomusichall.com.au – Shalini Singh