By Derek Duffy
Reprinted from the Gulf Islands Driftwood
When Harry Manx performed at Talons Restaurant it was unlike any event that I have attended to date on Saltspring Island. It wasn't that the event itself was anything out of the ordinary but after just five minutes in the packed dining room it was clear that the audience was about to be privy to something very special.
For those who have neither heard nor seen Harry Manx perform, I would urge you to see this extremely talented and dedicated blues man before he takes off on a tour of Australia where he will be playing the festival circuit along with the likes of Taj Mahal and Ben Harper. Manx is no newcomer on the scene, it's just that he has only recently graced the west coast with his unique brand of blues. Up till now he has been around the globe, most recently studying and performing in India with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
From the first note Manx had the audience at Talons in the palm of his hand, playing some very fine slide to blues songs that were both old or original. It didn't matter. The treatment he gave them was completely new but showed that he had been a fine student of the masters while not emulating any of them.
Manx' approach to the genre of blues is a personal approach, the likes of which I have not heard since a young John Lee Hooker hit the scene some 60 years ago. I seriously did not think that there could be anything left to squeeze out of a music that has had so many interpreters but Manx brought a whole new meaning to it.
A fine stylist, Manx has a rapport that is confident and comfortable with not a sign of the inflated ego that can affect some performers. He started the night playing slide guitar and went on to give some stellar performances with the six-string banjo and the Mohan Veena, an Indian guitar-sitar.
Manx explained the way in which the Veena was played, demonstrating with obvious delight the intricate sound produced when the top strings reflected harmonically with the numerous sympathetic strings. I don't pretend to understand the workings of the Veena but I can say the sound was heavenly, adding an ethereal quality to the concert.
The sound was superbly mixed and supplied by Jordie Sharp of Acoustic Planet.