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October 28, 2020
CD Review: Tommy Emmanuel's 'Center Stage' PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 17:49
tommy_emmnauel.jpgBy Ken Volpe - GJD
It seems like every year Tommy Emmanuel gets better. His timing, his chops, and his note choice; he continues to take his music to another level. Mr. Emmanuel also constantly expands his repertoire and ventures into new branches within various genres. The amount of new music that he produces every year is quite impressive.

The show starts with “The Finger Lakes”, which is a beautiful song that has rolling arpeggios and artificial harmonics. He works his way to one of his fan faves “Train to Dusseldorf.” Then there is that flamboyant old tune Peter Allen tune, “I go to Rio.” Man, only Mr. E could make that tune really hip. After that song he plays my personal favorite, “Nine Pound Hammer”, which Merle Travis made famous. On this we get to hear Tommy do some soulful singing. During the tune, he goes into a break where he is playing bass notes with his left hand while playing percussion with his right hand at the same time. It is absolutely fantastic. His single note improvised lines and swinging jazzy chords will surely catch your attention. Unlike many other guitarists with great technical ability, Tommy does not overuse his chops and he always plays for the song.

Further down, he busts out Jolly Swagman, an up-tempo Gaelic influenced chord melody ditty that will perk up your ears and warm up your heart. Towards the end of the first set, he wows the audience with yet another unique new version of a Beatles’ medley.

The second set starts with a Merle Haggard tune, “Workin’ Man Blues”. Once again we hear Tommy’s vocals. I guess he really likes singing songs by songwriters named Merle.

Tommy takes it down a notch with the classic, “Georgia on my mind.” On these first two tunes, Bob Littell joins him, playing some smokin’ harmonica. Soon after, he gives a short but heart felt inspirational talk about the gift of music. Before you know it, he hits you with another tune, “Tall Fiddler”, at a frenetic tempo. Man he is so good. Later on, he plays another gem, “Lenny Bro”. This is obviously dedicated to one of his biggest influences. Lenny would be proud. He ends the show with a drop-tuned ballad, called “Questions.” A prefect end to an amazing show.

It really is incredible how committed he is. Tommy is always on tour traveling throughout the world or in the studio recording new music. The amount of physical and creative energy that this one man has is almost incomprehensible. His entire life is about engulfing himself completely in his music. The love for his music and this constant musical output is why he has such a loyal following. I might also add that Tommy has such a great sense of humor and is a wonderful entertainer. The only downside on this live recording is that at times his tone seems to be somewhat brittle on the top end. If you have never heard his music, you really need to. Go buy this Cd or better yet go see him live.

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