Only a few get to enjoy amazing show at LTCC
“Did you hear the one about the dyslexic guy who walks into a bra?” Harry Manx asks the audience, which responds with a delayed laugh.
You had to pay close attention to the joke in order to appreciate the humor. It was the same with the music. Listen closely to the music of Manx and you gain appreciation. After a while it turns to astonishment. There were three standing ovations during the show.
Manx and his large quiver of stringed instruments entertained a disappointingly small crowd this past Friday in the Duke Theater on the campus of Lake Tahoe Community College. The soothing, hypnotic music is part India ragas, part Mississippi Delta country blues.
Manx lived in India for 12 years and studied for five of those years under Rajasthani Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Although he alternated instruments throughout the evening, Manx was most mesmerizing on the Mohan veena, a 20-string lap guitar. Manx, in fact, decided to move to India after hearing the instrument on a recording by Ry Cooder and Bhatt, who invented the Mohan Veena.
“There are ragas that sound bluesy and there are ways to bend strings while playing blues that sound Indian,” Manx said. “I may be forcing the relationship between the two musical cultures, but I keep thinking they were made for each other.”
The turnout of just 50 or so people is an indicator of how underappreciated LTCC is by the South Shore community. As a former collector of parking tickets from the campus police at Humboldt State University, I quickly learned to appreciate LTCC’s easy accessibility. If you want to take a class, you just park for free and take a 60-second walk to the classroom. It’s that easy.
Moreover, the Duke Theater is the venue for concerts and movies throughout the school year. On Friday, Oct. 26, there will be a presentation of a documentary filmed in Darfur, Sudan, entitled “The Devil Came On Horseback.”
Someday, folks will get it and the Duke will be packed every Friday. Even Manx seemed to realize it.
“I’ve played in a town for the first time in front of five people and I eventually built it up to 1,000,” he said.
Regardless of the situation, Manx has a very calming presence. That’s a trait you might expect from someone who audaciously made a guitar out of a cigar box and two broom handles and played it to the Bruce Springsteen song “I’m on Fire” at a concert where the Boss himself was sitting in the front row. Afterward, Springsteen came backstage to personally congratulate Manx and to inspect the crazy guitar.
However, Manx, a native and resident of British Columbia, isn’t all that different from you or me.
“People ask me what the difference is between people from Canada and people from the United States,” Manx mused to the audience. “Canadians are just unarmed Americans with health insurance.”