Tommy Emmanuel | 10.12.07

greattommyphoto.jpgAt one point Emmanuel was scat singing while playing the bass line and chords with his left hand and simulating the sounds of a jazz drummer with his right hand on the face of the guitar.  

 

 

 

 

The Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis

The Sheldon Concert Hall is the ideal place to see a great acoustic guitar player like Tommy Emmanuel. The resonant sound of the wood and the intimate setting was a good match for his natural approach to performing. The sold out crowd got an up close taste of his easy going Australian charm. It seemed like Emmanuel was having as much of a good time as anybody there – it’s intoxicating to see someone having that much fun doing their job. His commentary between each piece of music gave an open and honest view of his inspirations and portrayed a real sense of the humility of the man behind the amazing playing.

His playing throughout the show combined elements of folk and Appalachian mountain music. It’s a style of finger picking ragtime blues that has a uniquely American flavor. He had a distinct approach to walking bass lines and voicings derived from jazz chord-solos from guys like Chet Atkins or Joe Pass. At one point Emmanuel was scat singing while playing the bass line and chords with his left hand and simulating the sounds of a jazz drummer with his right hand on the face of the guitar. He was using the entire guitar as a percussion instrument and was banging, taping, scraping and scratching different parts of the guitar to do entire drum solo sections.

Emmanuel has an amazing right hand and finger picks as well as he flat picks, and often both at the same time; though Emmanuel’s writing and arranging has a depth of emotion beyond just the fret board. He did a soulful rendition of the old mining tune "Nine Pound Hammer" where he kept a constant pulse with his thumb on the low notes while playing and singing the whole song. It really demonstrated the authority with which he controls the guitar. His version of the "Cannonball Rag" is reminiscent of "The Clap" by Steve Howe of Yes. He also played an amazing version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that brought the crowd roaring to its feet. He was using a beautiful harp-like technique of arpeggiated chordal harmonics first pioneered by Lenny Breau. One of my favorite songs he played is "Lewis and Clark," which reminded me a bit of the way that Michael Hedges used to write-music that is just perfect for enjoying the outdoors.

Emmanuel’s opening act was an unanticipated treat. Renowned Nashville songwriter Pamela Rose played and entire set of her music. She has written many well known hits for some of Country Music’s top artists. She is an incredible performer in her own right with an angelic, soulful, powerful voice.  Her songs are very well crafted and the guitar voicings layer lyrical melodies alongside ever evolving harmonic motion in the chords. You can read all about her successful career shaping the Nashville sound from behind the scenes at her web page http://www.pamrose.com/. She has just released some recordings of her performing some of her new music and hits from the past.           

Tommy Emmanuel is more than great guitar player, he is a great showman. He has a good time playing for the audience and the good feelings filled the room. He plays effortlessly and flawlessly and performs a wide range music that brings the audience along with him for the ride. | Derek Lauer

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