Tommy Emmanuel CGP, Richard Smith
Friday July 21, 2023 08:00 PM EDT
CRITIC’S PICK: There are few purely instrumental acoustic guitarists who can transfix an audience solo, but Australia’s Emmanuel is surely one of them. His remarkably dexterous six-string abilities will leave you bug-eyed, but never to the detriment of the song as his notoriously creative Beatles’ covers display. His musical talents and gregarious personality can easily fill a thousand seat house. This time, you’ll have two chances to catch him. Don’t miss either.—Hal Horowitz
From the venue:The real-time exuberance Tommy Emmanuel brings to every note of every song he plays is palpable and infectious. His fans are in love with his unbound talent as a guitarist of multitudes, his ability to play three parts at once, always with pure heart and real soul. He is a true virtuoso. But he seems as delighted always with the magic of the music as the audience, if not more, and his joy illuminates everything. It’s one thing to play these multi-dimensional arrangements flawlessly on an acoustic guitar. But to do it with that smile of the ages, that evidence of authentic, unbridled delight, is an irresistibly infectious invitation to feel his music as deeply as he does. “The joy, ” he says, “is there always because I’m chasing it through music. Seeing the surprise in peoples’ eyes is worth living and working for... I can’t help but play to the people with all my heart, which is overflowing with joy of being in that moment that I’ve worked all my life for. And here it is!” That authentic exuberance Tommy brings to every show and every record is especially powerful, given the profound deficit of real joy in so many lives. Tommy’s happiness, like his music, is pure and expressed in real-time. Nothing is phony. It’s a quality that does reach far beyond any one language, and it’s instantly understood by all his fellow humans. It’s the reason he smiles so much while playing, and why his audience does as well. As many have said, it’s hard not to be happy at his shows. Because his joy, and the timeless river of inspiration, which is the source, is universally recognized. And it feels good. In 2018, Tommy made the great album, Accomplice One, a series of duets with musicians great and varied, and all at his level. It’s a concept that worked, as the range of artists reflected Tommy’s expansive love of all kinds of music, including Rodney Crowell, Mark Knopfler, Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell, Jerry Douglas, Jake Shimabukuro and more. Each of his accomplices seemed as inspired by his energy and passion as much as Tommy was by theirs, and he played with effortless grace. Now comes the long-awaited sequel, Accomplice Two. It shares the same exuberance, diversity, and sense of adventure as the first album, with a great range of artists. This album features rock legends Michael McDonald, Jorma Kaukonen, and Little Feat; bluegrass superstars such as Billy Strings, The Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Sierra Hull, and David Grisman; country icons such as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jamey Johnson, and Raul Malo; and guitar heavyweights like Yasmin Williams, Larry Campbell, and Richard Smith. The first single “White Freight Liner Blues” is out now and features the Grammy award winner and claw hammer guitarist, Molly Tuttle. Tommy also has a new television special called Accomplice LIVE! which begins airing on PBS in March of 2023. This special features some of Tommy’s best-known songs and duets with his accomplices such as Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Sierra Hull, Yasmin Williams, and many others. Tommy was born in 1955 in Muswellbrook, New South Wales Australia, and started playing the guitar at age four. In his twenties, he was the most sought-after performer and session musician in Sydney. By age 30, he was burning on electric guitar with several rock bands in stadiums across Europe. He could have gone on to live the rock star life. Yet, he yearned for something purer and closer to his heart. Casting off the reliable rock band engine of monstrous sonics blasting, Tommy went acoustic. The inspiration for Tommy’s transformation was his hero, Chet Atkins, who represented the purity of one man, one guitar, and unlimited passionate for serving the song. Eventually Tommy met his hero and started a lifelong friendship which shaped Tommy’s music forever. Chet welcomed Tommy into guitarist knighthood by bestowing upon him the coveted title of CGP (Certified Guitar Player), an honor awarded only to four other humans ever, and they recorded an album together, The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World. Receiving the love and esteem of Chet lifted Tommy into a different realm. Because, as Chet recognized instantly and told the world, musicians like this don’t come along that often; pay attention to this man. And people have paid attention from sold out shows all over the world to multiple Grammy nominations, ARIA Awards, IBMA Awards, and countless “Best Acoustic Guitarist” wins in numerous music magazine readers polls”¦. the world is taking notice.