Monday, January 21, 2019

Tommy Emmanuel, Accomplice One

One of the goals this year with my blog is to present whole albums from the past and present.

Great albums much like great novels are a musical narrative that must be experienced  whole.

Songs brought together in an album often write their own little chapters that bring together an emotional and cerebral experience. Collective songs on an album have the power to alter your state of mind, rise you up, take you on a journey, or just make you smile and shake your head to the rhythm.

Tommy Emmanuel is one such musician who is revered by many around the world. You can look at his discography and realize that he has made an album almost every 2-3 years since 1979. When you accomplish something like that, you realize he is making these albums for his joy, and the joy that it will bring others.

"One of six children, Emmanuel was born in Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia, in 1955. He received his first guitar in 1959 at age four and was taught by his mother to accompany her playing lap steel guitar. At the age of six in 1961, he heard Chet Atkins playing on the radio. He vividly remembers that moment and said it greatly inspired him." Wikipedia

Growing up, Tommy's family formed a band, sold their house and went on the road to perform when he was seven years old. Over the years he played in numerous bands traveling the world. His fame developed over the years as a highly coveted 'session player' recording on many musicians albums, not to mention his fun and relaxed personality made him friends and fans everywhere he went.

Tommy's gift as an acoustic guitar player begins with his hero, Chet Atkin's and following Chet's Travis picking style. Tommy as an Australian, is pure Americana in that his passion is to mix- jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, folk, rock and world beat rhythms into a musical deep dive accompanied by his famous finger picking. Tommy often beats his guitar with his right hand while laying down a percussion line with his left thumb on the top bass strings, while the remaining left fingers blend in a melody. When you watch this you realize his right fingers are literally dancing on the strings and he becomes, a one man band. Tommy does around 300 concerts a year all over the world. His heart and soul is the definition of troubadour.

If Tommy is anything, he is a collaborator.  He loves to play with other musicians and boy do they love to play with him. In late 2018, I discovered Accomplice One (you can buy it here on Amazon), released in January, 2018. So I'm about a year late to the Tommy E. party, that on this album includes- Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs, Jorma Kaukonen, David Grisman, Mark Knopfler, Jake Shimabukuro, and Rodney Crowell to name just 'the names.'

This album is a real collective treat that tells a story based on your imagination.  All the songs from Accomplice One are on the playlist this week, and please make time to watch Tommy's TED Talk at the end. Tommy's a classical gas!

As a footnote- I see Tommy has just released a new album called Heart Songs with John Knowles on January, 11th. And, in the story of my concert life have just discovered he played in San Diego at the Balboa Theatre on January 12th. I can't believe I missed this opportunity, my verbal language is quite colorful at the moment!


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