Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Harry Manx: Spoonful

Harry Manx calls his unique merging of eastern and western music as “Mysticssippi blues.” Up to a few weeks ago, I had never heard of this Canadian musician, his style, or his unique instrument – a Mohan Veena. That is until his prized instrument was stolen from the baggage claim at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in February. Manx’s plight went viral on Facebook where I first heard of him and the Mohan Veena. I decided to investigate and loved his unusual music immediately.

Manx had his Mohan Veena for 20 years and he received it from his mentor who invented the instrument. It was built and named for its craftsman Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. The instrument is an altered arch-top guitar that has three playing strings, five drone strings, and 12 sympathetic strings. It looks like a cross between a guitar and sitar.  When it’s played with a slide, it makes for one crazy blues instrument. 

By the way, Manx was reunited with his prized instrument yesterday, and the perpetrator was apprehended by the Chicago Police on February 24. The absence of his instrument for a few weeks no doubt caused him great consternation, but in the process he gained a number of new fans.

It’s fitting that in the following cut he plays some Chicago blues penned by the late Willie Dixon of Chess Records’ fame. While numerous artists including Muddy Waters and Cream have recorded this tune, Manx’s version has to be the most original because of the Mohan Veena.

Harry Manx explains the Mohan Veena


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