'Mystic-sippi' blues artist Harry Manx

A bridge between East and West
Harry Manx blends blues, folk and Hindustani classical music.Photo courtesy of St. Clair Productions

Blend Indian, folk melodies with slide-guitar blues, add a sprinkle of gospel and some compelling grooves and you'll get Harry Manx's "mystic-ssippi" sound.

The singer, songwriter and purveyor of the mohan veena (a cross between a guitar and sitar) will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland. Advance tickets cost $20 and are available at www.stclairevents.com, by calling 541-535-3562 or at Music Coop in Ashland. Tickets will cost $22 at the door, $10 for ages 12 through 17. Kids ages 11 and younger get in free.

If you go

Who: Harry Manx

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9

Where: Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland

Tickets: $20 in advance, $22 at the door

Call: 541-535-3562 or see www.stclairevents.com

Manx links East and West, creating musical short stories that marry the tradition of blues with the depth of Indian ragas. It's in live settings that the bridge between "heavenly" India and "earthy" American blues is most effectively built, according to Manx's website.

"Indian music moves inward. It's traditionally used in religious ceremonies and meditation because it puts you into this whole other place. But Western music has the ability to move out, into celebration and dance. So when we play the Indian stuff onstage, it has the tendency to draw people into something really deep; they'll get kind of quiet and spacey. Then we'll play some Western music, and it grounds them once more; they sort of come out of the mood the Indian music had put them in and get into the performance. I love to see that working — that effect on the audience. My goal has always been to draw the audience as deep as possible into the music."

Born on the United Kingdom's Isle of Man, Manx spent his childhood in Canada, then lived in Europe, Japan, India and Brazil. He honed his artistry on street corners, in cafes and bars and at festivals.

It was in the mid-'80s that Indian music captured his attention, and he began five years of instruction with Rajasthani musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt — whose work on roots guitarist Ry Cooder's 1993 "A Meeting by the River" earned the album a Grammy Award for best world music.

Bhatt presented Manx with a custom-made mohan veena — a 20-stringed sitar and guitar hybrid — which became the catalyst for Manx to forge a new path with his signature style. While the mohan veena is beyond exotic, Manx plays it with within traditional, Western sound structures.

As a successful touring performer, Manx brings his solo shows to the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe, appearing at world-class theaters and notorious blues clubs alike. Along with the mohan veena, he plays lap steel, harmonica and banjo to wrap audiences into what he calls "the Harry Zone," a place full of beautiful melodies and warm vocals.

Manx has a string of albums to his credit. The newest, "Strictly Whatever," was released in 2011 on the Stony Plain Music label and features Toronto-based guitarist Kevin Breit of The Sisters Euclid.

Manx has at least seven Maple Blues Awards, along with honors from the Canadian Folk Music Awards and Georgia Straight magazine. He received CBC Radio's Great Canadian Blues Awards in 2007.


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