Tommy Emmanuel

Published in The Music Network

 

The guitar maestro has spent all but the first few years of his life on a stage. It’s been a relentless, lifetime pursuit to bring his music to the world. And there are no signs that his itinerary – or his finger picking style – is slowing down. In each of the last five years, Emmanuel has played upwards of 300 shows. This year is no different.

Born in Muswellbrook, NSW, Emmanuel now calls Nashville home. He has visited the States regularly since 1980, and there’s a hint of an American twang creeping in, and no doubt traces of everywhere else he’s visited. “Americans think I’m English, Australians think I talk like someone from another country. My accent is in the middle of everything,” he says. “I’ve been talking on stage my whole life.”

TMN caught up with the legendary guitarist just minutes after he wowed the audience at the famous House of Blues venue in New Orleans. Next up, Baton Rouge. It’s all part of an extensive US tour through much of the year, one which will take the guitarist around the world and back home for a  special Australian tour. The 55-year-old has put the finishing touches on a new album Little By Little, and plans are in the works for a special Australian tour this December, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tommy and his brother Phil’s musical collaboration.“There will be a lot of surprises,” says the younger brother.

Emmanuel’s musical genius gave rise at an early age. He picked up his first guitar at the age of four. Two years later, when most of his peers were learning to tie their shoelaces, Emmanuel was already learning his craft in the family band, known in various incarnations as The Emmanuel Quartet, The Midget Surfaries and The Trailblazers. He’d played his way across Australia well before his teens. In the years that have passed, Emmanuel has collected a handful of ARIA Awards, a pair of Grammy Award nominations and countless gongs from the guitar community. He’s also been feted by American guitar great Chet Atkins with the rare distinction of “Certified Guitar Player.”

An unrivalled acoustic guitarist, Emmanuel’s body of work includes 20 full-length musical recordings, and a shelf of platinum certifications. And he’s played to billions at the Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. But the latest gong, the Member of the Order of Australia medal, is particularly special. “It’s just wonderful to be recognised by your home country,” he notes. “It’s very important for a person in the public eye to represent their country properly. I’m always very aware of that. Australians have a great reputation all around the world. In general, if you say you’re from Australia you get a better reception, you get a warmer welcome. I’ve seen that so many times.”

And how do the letters AM sound to the ears of Tommy Emmanuel, a self-taught musician who has never read music. “It has a beautiful ring to it,” he muses.


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Pure Mockery

Published in Billboard Magazine

Fans of veteran Australian rock act Hoodoo Gurus may have been surprised to see its members appearing on the Internet earlier this year in a series of videos detailing their attempts to get a career-boosting makeover.

The band’s admirers needn’t have worried, though—the weekly videos formed a six-part “mockumentary” titled “Must Travel on Wheels” that promoted its ninth album (but first for Sony Music Australia), “Purity of Essence.”

The set opened at No. 16 on the Australian Recording Industry Assn.’s albums chart one week after its March 12 domestic release. Following its May 11 U.S. release through Virtual Label/Alternative Distribution Alliance, it will appear in the United Kingdom, Spain and Brazil in July.

The videos debuted Feb. 26 and ran for six weeks on Australian platform BigPond Music and various streaming services. “We wanted the band to cross generations,” band manager Michael McMartin says. “When we did our last album [2004’s “Mach Schau” on EMI], the infrastructure wasn’t set up to take advantage of what you could do with technology. It’s been a huge learning curve.”

The band’s latest national tour, booked by Premier Artists, wrapped May 21 at Sydney’s Oxford Arts Factory and fall U.S. and European dates are being lined up. The band is published by Sony/ATV.