A few years ago at the Rockwood Pavilion in Sechelt, Harry Manx was tuning up the Mohan Veena when a stray cat wandered in from back stage. As the cat sauntered across the stage, the chuckles from the audience made Manx look up from his task. He gazed at the tabby for a long moment and then said, "I thought I told you to stay in the car."
It's that sort of gentle humour that makes a Harry Manx concert all the more pleasant. Soft-spoken, laid-back, the "Everyman of the Blues" puts his audience at ease with his unique blend of Indian folk, slide guitar blues, a little bit of gospel and, of course, his stories.
On July 6, Manx - the "mystic Mississippi blues man"- is coming back to the Rockwood in a concert presented by the Live Music Society.
At the tender age of 20, Manx went to Europe and worked as a busker, playing slide guitar.
"I've worked mostly as a musician since then," he said. "I was a one-man band with a drum and a cymbal for a time. It was really a lot of fun."
Manx found his way to India and heard a recording of Indian slide guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on the Mohan Veena, a 20-string guitar-like instrument of Bhatt's own creation. Impressed by the sound, Manx arranged to meet Bhatt and spent the next several years as his student. He learned Eastern scales and eventually ragas, which are complex musical patterns that form the basis of Indian composition. Later, Manx developed his own style, a combination of Indian ragas and blues scales - "East meets West" - and the mix is sublime, mesmerizing and hard to resist.
A prolific artist, Manx has released 12 albums in as many years. The recipient of seven Maple Blues Awards and the Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Solo Artist (2005), Manx has been nominated six times for a Juno and won CBC Radio's Great Canadian Blues Award in 2007.
His most recent original release, Om Suite Ohm, was voted by the Montreal daily La Presse as one of only four CDs to watch for in 2013.
Doors open at 7, concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, available at Lucy's in Sechelt, MELOmania in Roberts Creek and Gaia's Fair Trade Gifts in Gibsons.
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