The Cabot Presents Tommy Emmanuel at Berklee Performance Center
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“If you like guitar playing, it simply doesn’t get any better than Tommy.” – Jason Isbell
Tommy Emmanuel has achieved enough musical milestones to satisfy several lifetimes. Or at least they would if he was the kind of artist who was ever satisfied. At the age of six, he was touring regional Australia with his family band. By 30, he was a rock n’ roll lead guitarist burning up stadiums in Europe. At 44, he became one of five people ever named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, music icon Chet Atkins. Today, he plays hundreds of sold-out shows every year from Nashville to Sydney to London. All the while, Tommy has hungered for what’s next. When you’re widely acknowledged as the international master of the solo acoustic guitar, what’s next is Accomplice One, an album of collaborations with some of the finest singers, songwriters and, yes, guitarists alive today – a list including Jason Isbell, Mark Knopfler, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Douglas, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs, J.D. Simo, David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Suzy Bogguss and many more.
Since he and his brother Phil taught themselves to play as toddlers, the guitar has been Tommy’s real first language–and he’s more articulate on his signature Melbourne-made Maton acoustics than most people are with words. Influenced by the Merle Travis/Chet Atkins fingerstyle of guitar picking, Tommy developed a style of solo guitar playing that encompasses the range of a whole band– covering drums, bass, rhythm and lead guitar and a vocal melody simultaneously. No loop pedals, no overdubs, just one man and ten fingers. While some artists take ten-piece bands on the road and still fill out the sound with backing tracks, Tommy builds a complete sonic world entirely on his own.
For many players, the technical mastery of the technique would overwhelm the emotion of the music, but not for Tommy. His idols are not just the great players, but also the great pop songwriters and singers–Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, The Beatles and their ilk. While thousands of fans have spent years trying to unpack and imitate Tommy’s technique, for him it’s just the delivery system. His approach is always song and emotion first, his music the embodiment of his soulful spirit, sense of hope and his love for entertaining.
Which is not to say he dismisses the CGP, the Guitar Player awards, the Grammy nominations, the numerous magazine polls naming him the greatest acoustic guitarist alive. He’s grateful for it all, and the incredible journey that’s led him to the most invigorating period of his career–six decades into it. For Tommy though, the greatest reward is always the same–to make the next great record, and to see the beaming audience at the next great show.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be in show business. Now I just want to be in the happiness business–I make music, you get happy. That’s a good job.”
Dobro master and 14-time GRAMMY winner Jerry Douglas is to the resonator guitar what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar, elevating, transforming, and reinventing the instrument in countless ways. Additionally, Douglas is a freewheeling, forward-thinking recording and touring artist whose output incorporates elements of country, bluegrass, rock, jazz, blues, and Celtic into his distinctive musical vision.
Called “Dobro’s matchless contemporary master” by The New York Times, three-time CMA Musician of the Year award recipient Jerry Douglas is one of the most innovative recording artists in music as a solo artist, band leader for The Jerry Douglas Band and his GRAMMY winning bluegrass band The Earls of Leicester, as well as a member of groundbreaking ensembles including Alison Krauss & Union Station, J.D. Crowe & the New South, The Country Gentlemen, Boone Creek, and Strength In Numbers. Douglas shines and soars. His distinctive sound graces more than 1500 albums with artists such as Garth Brooks, George Jones, Paul Simon, Little Big Town, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Earl Scruggs, Ray Charles, Dierks Bentley, and Tommy Emmanuel, among many others.
In addition to touring, Douglas has co-produced and performed on a series of platinum albums. He has produced albums for Alison Krauss, Del McCoury Band, Maura O’Connell, The Whites, Jesse Winchester, and Steep Canyon Rangers. He is co-music director of the acclaimed BBC Scotland TV series Transatlantic Sessions. In 2004, Douglas was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts with an American Heritage Fellowship, and he served as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Artist In Residence” in 2008.
As Jerry Douglas continues his incalculable influence on country, Americana, bluegrass and their many related genres, he forges ahead as a true pioneer in American music.