If there is one person who can bring together people of every musical stripe, it’s Harry Manx. The West Coast troubadour performs a style of blues with the hypnotic depth of classical Indian ragas. And somewhere in the compelling grooves, there’s a sprinkle of gospel and a pinch of folk and bluegrass.
Born on the Isle of Man, the singer-songwriter spent his childhood in Canada. But in his teens, Manx hot-footed it to Europe, Japan, India and Brazil. His musical polish grew with each adventure, but it was a five-year stay in India under the tutelage of Grammy Award winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, that honed Manx’s exotic style.
While the Salt Spring based recording artist owns a special collection of guitars, it is the custom-made Mohan Veena, a 20-string sitar-guitar hybrid that shapes his “east-meets-west" style of music.
Manx just released Way Out East, a 10-track of Indian ragas and he may play a couple at his upcoming performance on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Arden Theatre.
“I hadn’t put out an album since 2017. At that point, I thought I’d said everything I needed to say. The songs weren’t naturally coming out, so I backed up. Then the pandemic hit. I did carpentry and walked the dog and thought, ‘what a lovely change,’’ said Manx.
During his off-stage time, he received numerous requests to release an album inspired by his ragas. While compiling Way Out East, Manx started writing new songs.
“But the direction had changed. They were softer, more heartfelt songs as opposed to the bluesy songs I’d sung in the past. In India there’s a saying that you always hear the musician through his music.”
A brilliant musician who mesmerizes his audience, Manx also exudes a savvy homespun vibe when understanding what his audience wants.
“A friend of mine went to see a Peter Gabriel concert. He played Red Rain and a bunch of new songs. My friend said that when he played the new songs, the audience's faces dropped. Sometimes people are resistant to songs they don’t know. They want to hear the songs they know because there’s an attachment or a beautiful memory in their lives.”
While there won’t be too many new songs at the Arden gig, the seven-time Maple Blues winner knows his audience is eager to hear tried and true grooves such as Coat of Mail and Don’t Forget to Miss Me.
Manx is working on a project with Montreal's Simon Fauteaux of SIX Media Marketing that will have the singer recording an album in French. His audience appeal is massive and he notes the Francophone province is his largest market.
“I never chose Quebec. It chose me. It’s magic and I’m so happy that it started.”
But in the meantime, Manx has developed strong connections with St. Albert and is looking forward to the audience’s warm reception.
The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $51.25. Call 780-459-1542 or online at tickets.stalbert.ca.