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Tommy Emmanuel Puts On a Master Class in Guitar in Music City

by Rich and Laura Lynch

"That's how we keep it going, we have to give it away," stated Tommy Emmanuel from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium on September 25, 2021. Now in his 60's Tommy is encouraging the next generation to embrace finger style guitar playing. One of the ways that he is doing that is by spearheading the Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Camp USA. This year's classes ran from September 23rd through the 27th so the show at the Ryman was part of the program which explained why there were quite a few young people in the crowd on Saturday night. Emmanuel is living his dream and doing his best to make other kid's dreams come true.


Tommy Emmanuel is always excellent and expressive in concert.

Tommy Emmanuel had a passion for the guitar at an early age and he spent a lot of time experimenting. Eventually, he discovered the formula that would bring him worldwide acclaim. Interestingly, it was the stripping down of a song focusing more on melody while adding accents than bombarding folks with notes and speed which he can do when he chooses. This inspiration can be attributed to guitar legend Chet Atkins, who represented to Tommy the pinnacle of guitar playing. Emmanuel made the pilgrimage from his homeland of Australia to America where he not only managed to meet Chet but to be mentored by Atkins. Later, Chet would name Emmanuel a Certified Guitar Player (CGP) - an award that was only given to a select few. To this day, Tommy still lives up to the title and is teaching others.

Cheers echoed in the hallowed hall as Tommy armed with an acoustic strolled out to present an animated, multi-part instrumental flowing into a second serving of feisty finger picking. Emmanuel mentioned one of his recent projects - a double album entitled Tommysongs (2020) that features songs solely penned, produced and recorded by Tommy. A number of its tracks are over 30 years old so the record includes more modern arrangements of tunes that have evolved over time. "Song For A Rainy Morning" was a prime and pretty example as was the cinematic "Fuel" which was so hot that it blew out the guitar. Undaunted, Tommy declared that this is real life and went about tuning another acoustic to return to the rather heavy handed piece. On a softer note was a sentimental song for his father stating that he still can't say goodbye.


TOMMYSONGS is the very best of Tommy Emmanuel.

Emmanuel is well known for his creative covers. His magical medley of Beatles tunes started with "Here Comes The Sun" and flowed through quite a few Fab Four favorites. This part of the show also included a story about meeting Paul McCartney that was spiked with humor. Next, armed with a drum brush, Tommy bashed his mic while the lights blinked back in response, then he slapped the acoustic with the brush and his hands to craft a drum solo on the instrument. He added percussion elements by strumming the guitar strings in unusual spots.

Now, it was time to pay tribute to Tommy's hero Chet Atkins (1924-2001) along with the legendary Jerry Reed (1937-2008). Emmanuel invited Richard Smith out to handle the Reed parts. The first song that they played was a song about Nashville penned by Chet that showcased a fine interchange between the two guitarists. "Twitchy" and "Jerry's Breakdown" built on that momentum with fast fluid exchanges. As the concert came to a close Tommy thanked his team, his management and the crew at the Ryman.


Tommy Emmanuel makes a fabulous return to the Ryman stage in Nashville.

Emmanuel was energized and engaging as he presented layered, lively originals that featured a range of techniques such as thumb thunks, peppy picking and speedy strumming as demonstrated on "Deep River Blues" (Doc Watson) which was one of a number of covers performed. The only slight disappointment of this delightful show was that Tommy did not play a song with Jorma Kaukonen. Jorma was one of the instructors at Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Camp USA 2021 and he filled the opening slot on Saturday night.

The Ryman Auditorium may be known as the Mother Church of Country Music but the venue continues to host a wide range of artists such as Tommy Emmanuel with Jorma. Upcoming shows include the Indigo Girls, Lucero, John Hiatt, Dawes, Rival Sons, Drive-By Truckers and Joe Bonamassa.


Richard Swift and Tommy Emmanuel provide some teachable moments in Music City.

Related Links: For more information on TOMMY EMMANUEL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Tommy Emmanuel | Tommy Emmanuel's Guitar Camp | Jorma Kaukonen | Jorma Kaukonen Kicks Things Off at the Ryman | Triumphant Return to The Ryman | Magical at Music City Roots | Tommy Emmanuel Fulfills a Lifelong Dream | Entrancing and Enthralling in Englewood | Ryman Auditorium


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