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Mystery Manxman to headline Australian folk festival

Harry Manx

Harry Manx

  • by Alan Vincent
 

A Manx-born musician has been chosen to headline the biggest ever international line up for the Illawarra Folk Festival in Australia in January 2014.

Harry Manx, who was born in Douglas, is known as the ‘mysticssippi’ blues man due to the way he fuses together Eastern and Western music.

He is revered for his ability on multiple instruments such as the slide guitar, harmonica, six-string banjo, the 20 string mohan veena from India, and the Ellis stomp box.

His musical style has been described as ‘an essential musical link’ between East and West.

The 20-string mohan veena became Harry’s signature instrument after he studied in India for five years under Hindustani classical musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

Harry was born in Douglas in 1955 but left the island to move to Canada with his family at four-years-old.

He then moved back to Europe in the 1970s to work at festivals as a blues lap-slide guitarist and songwriter.

Talking about his early years in the island he says: ‘I was born in the Jane Crookall Maternity Home in 1955.

‘My mother’s maiden name was Kathleen McLoughlin. She’s 85 now and still doing well, I took her to one of my concerts here in Toronto recently. She went to Onchan School and at 21 met a sailor, my father, who was on the island for a radar course on Douglas Head.

‘They married and had five children, of which I’m the second youngest.

‘Apparently my mother was chased by a horse when she was pregnant with me, through a field, and she leapt over a stone wall just in time to avoid getting trampled.

‘My grandfather was called Francis McLoughlin, originally from Letterkenny in Ireland.

‘He was a builder on the island who helped build the Villa Marina and put an extension on King Williams College.

‘He also helped in building the flats on Lord Street and built our own home in The Fairway in Onchan where I lived as a small child.

‘My grandmother was Edna McLoughlin, her maiden name was Gregson, and she went to Murray’s Road School. She was an artist, a painter, though only for her own enjoyment.

‘I left the island in 1959 but my aunt, Gerrie Hornsby, still lives in Colby. She worked for Manx Airlines for many years before retiring.

‘My mother still visits the island almost every year.

‘I haven’t been back to the island myself since I left but I am doing some shows with a new agent in the UK in March 2014, so perhaps I will make it to the Isle of Man, even if only for a visit.’

Asked about his real name, Harry said: ‘I’ve always been very aware of projecting an image of myself as an artist with a little mystery to himself.

‘I feel that mystery adds to the attraction I have as an artist. It’s similar to asking a magician to reveal how a magic trick is done.

‘The name “Manx” has served me well and hopefully shone some light on the place that I’m grateful to have been born in.’

For more information, visit www.harrymanx.com

 

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