April 2007

In Good We Trust
Harry Manx and Kevin Breit | In Good We Trust CD Release
presented by Richard Flohil
April 13, 2007 Hugh's Room Toronto
In Good We Trust, In Great Guitar We Put Our Faith
by Sebastian Cook with photos by Roger Humbert
If Highway 61 were to be rerouted through New Delhi, the B.C. coastal islands, Haight-Ashbury, northern Mississippi, Memphis and Toronto, it would end up with Harry Manx and Kevin Breit at Hugh’s Room on a chilly Friday the 13th; the first of two nights from Richard Flohil to celebrate the release of their new collaboration In Good We Trust.

Manx introduced the show by essentially saying, “We’ve got a new CD and we’re gonna pretty much play all the tracks.” His signature Mohan veena — a 20-string hybrid of lap steel acoustic and sitar — gave Springsteen’s ironically gentle “I’m on Fire” a gorgeous Indianized burn. Breit’s electric painted the high tones with tasteful, perfectly pitched details. Their combined energy and stage presence is immediately delighful to absorb; Manx is sagely rooted in acoustic raga-blues meditation, while the gangly Breit bounces around, cradling the electric guitar and fiddling with loops while playing to seemingly every physical angle in the room. It’s part stoner guitar geek, part pure poignancy and all parts superbly natural musicianship and chemistry.

Breit announced one tune as the Doobie Brothers “Takin’ It to The Streets”. At first I thought it was a riff on the stoner humour, but then the familiar melody came — albeit in an entirely new context. Later on in the second set, his meditation on the challenges of parenting for a creatively preoccupied musician came to life in “Sisters”, a bluesy lullaby that should have put any stressed-out parent in the joint in a better place. From thanking his label boss for the recording-session weed hookups, to this raw and comically honest slice of life and the running joke about synching up guitar tunings with 103 strings on the stage, Breit truly ran the gamut of musical personality. He is truly a guitarist with the ability to do a lot with a little in terms of note playing, coaxing maximum nuance from every electric tone and then picking exactly the right moments to floor the crowd with his solos. In the same vein, Manx is one of those rare acoustic players with that James Brown sort of 'pocket'; he has his familiar riffs and refrains that define the Harry Manx sound, that bring you back from every adventure before a new one begins.

The night rocketed to another level a couple of tunes into the second set with Manx’s “Steal 6”. “Mysticsippi” is a particularly brilliant moniker for Max upon which I stumbled on his website, and here that spirit truly came into focus. It put the “rootstronica” blues/electronic fusion I first experienced with R.L. Burnside’s “Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down” into blindingly funky contemporary focus. Seeing Manx and Breit with a DJ (and perhaps a tabla player) would one day be a real treat. When Hendrix’s primordial “Voodoo Child” was announced, I literally got goosebumps, and savoured the joy of hearing this great song take on such an entirely new and beautiful personality.

Country-blues twangers such as “Hang On” and “Good Time Charlie Got the Blues” were perfectly interspersed amongst the more full-throttle numbers, ratcheting down the intensity and giving the audience the chance to catch their breath.

I am not sure if Manx was kidding when he said the recording session for In Good We Trust took three hours. But with the almost telepathic vibe and trust so evident between them on this night, it wouldn’t surprise for it to be true.

Harry Manx

Kevin Breit
> www.harrymanx.com > www.kevinbreit.com
We welcome your comments and feedback
Sebastian Cook
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Roger Humbert
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