Mysticssippi” blues man Harry Manx 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. He has created a unique sound that is hard to forget and deliciously addictive to listen to.
Manx 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 Manx’s signature instrument. With Bhatt, he learned Eastern scales and eventually ragas, deceptively complex and regimented musical patterns that form the basis of Indian composition. Later, he decided to explore the connection between Indian ragas and blues scales, which eventually led to the Indo-blues hybrid that has become his style.
“Indian music moves a person inward,” Manx explains. “It’s traditionally used in religious ceremonies and during meditations because it puts you into this whole other place (now, here). 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.”
Manx is a prolific artist, releasing 12 albums in a 12-year span. He has received seven Maple Blues Awards, six Juno nominations, the Canadian Folk Music Award in 2005 for Best Solo Artist, and CBC Radio’s Great Canadian Blues Award in 2007.
Manx plays at the Mary Winspear Centre on Friday, January 27 at 7:30 pm. Tickets ($50.40) are available at: