Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Harry Manx - blues w/a twist of India!

Artist: Harry Manx
Title: Wise & Otherwise

With the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan the blues genre suffered a crisis in confidence. Blues labels knew there was a market that was just developing: a chance to sell more records. With Vaughan's death it appeared this door was closing. Today Bonnie Raitt is hoisting the entire genre on her slender shoulders and pulling the blues into the mainstream. However, in the early 90's, in a genre that honored age and experience, major labels began to sign young guitar players (Shepherd, Lang, Naiji, Welch, etc...) and fans embraced the elixir of youth! Now the sheen is wearing off and blues sales are flagging. In an environment that is rapidly changing Canadian Harry Manx is challenging current trends; he's older, he plays an acoustic guitar, and rather than offering the umpteenth (often lame) version of Robert Johnson's 'Sweet Home Chicago', Manx is using his '60's pop roots to connect with the musically disenfranchised baby boomers

This is my first 'niche' rated record. It is also my first 'trad-blues' review and the first album released in this new millennium reviewed on this site. I wanted to foist something into the discussion that was unknown but none-the-less very, very good. Harry Manx's second release, 'Wise & Otherwise' is an exceptional release with a folky blues based foundation that, by avoiding the standard 12 bar blues format, seems to embrace a near 'pop' music format. I would almost venture to say that Manx is, in the best sense of the word, a hybrid between Portland blues performer Kelly Joe Phelps (in regard to his playing) and a mellower Bob Segar (in regard to the texture of his voice). What adds to the wonder of Manx's music is an India genre influence.

To my knowledge, the 'raga' was first introduced to the blues genre by Mike Bloomfield whilst a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; however, Manx embraces the influence from India throughout this album and that added 'spice' is nothing short of mesmerizing. In addition to playing the slide guitar, Manx also plays an Indian instrument called 'The Veena' as well as the Banjo & Harmonica. Of the twelve songs on the album, seven are original compositions. In a most original twist Manx melds his own, "The Gist of Madhuvanti" into the B. B. King standard "The Thrill is Gone." Manx also covers classic rock tunes by Jimi Hendrix, "Foxy Lady" and Van Morrison, "Crazy Love."

Endorsing an artist is always a sketchy leap of faith. I have spoken to Manx on the phone a couple of times and swapped some EMAILS. Seems like a pretty approachable fellow and, based upon what I've heard of his music, someone who can embrace a cliche ridden genre, add something to it and make it his own. Harry Manx will be appearing at this year's Indigenous Jam and as an army of one I am very excited about seeing someone that I am confident will capture the attention of the Jam's historically attentive fans.

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