For guitarist Tommy Emmanuel sharing his amazing talent has been no easy task. A household name and iconic figure in his native Australia, Emmanuel has amassed an impressive track record yielding twenty albums,two Grammy nominations, Australia's Performer of the Year twice and Australia's Best

Guitarist seven times and performing and recording with Eric Clapton, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Keith Urban and a select group of notable symphony orchestras.

By Rob Nagy

For guitarist Tommy Emmanuel sharing his amazing talent has been no easy task. A household name and iconic figure in his native Australia, Emmanuel has amassed an impressive track record yielding twenty albums,two Grammy nominations, Australia's Performer of the Year twice and Australia's Best

Guitarist seven times and performing and recording with Eric Clapton, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Keith Urban and a select group of notable symphony orchestras. Emmanuel's painstaking efforts and determination have rewarded him as Australia's all time biggest selling instrumentalist consistently

selling over one hundred thousand copies in Australia alone. But while Emmanuel is considered a guitar God in Australia, it has taken years of tireless performing abroad, averaging over three hundred live dates per year, to build an audience and a dedicated following . Following a much deserved break from the road in his adopted home of Nashville, Emmanuel has

most recently released his latest masterpiece "Center Stage", a double live CD and DVD capturing Emmanuel at his best.

Tommy Emmanuel started playing the guitar at the age of four in his birthplace Australia. With no formal training, Emmanuel, a child prodigy, learned to play by ear. By the 1960's he started playing professionally, first with his older brother Phil and than as a family. Following the death

of his father in 1966, the Emmanuel family, under the direction of Australian country music star Buddy Williams, hit the road performing a rigorous schedule until Australian child welfare intervened ending the extensive travelling and placing the Emmanuel children into a stable school

environment. On weekends Emmanuel began performing with a popular local group "The Trailblazers", while giving private instruction on the guitar.

Still a teenager, television appearances and music competitions became common place for Emmanuel and the Trailblazers as he started to make a name for himself, winning two televised talent competitions and releasing a well received EP. In an effort to pursue a fulltime career as a guitarist, Emmanuel picked up stakes and relocated to the high profile city of Sydney where, when he wasn't playing in a club any given night of the week, he was

doing recording sessions as a much sought after guitarist. Emmanuel became an integral part of the highly successful 70's rock act "Dragon" recording numerous commercial jingles as well as working studio sessions with two of

Australia's biggest acts, "Air Supply" and "Men at Work". Europe became Emmanuel and Dragon's stage as they were the opening act for Tina Tuner's multi-million dollar "Break Every Rule" tour. Following his departure from Dragon, Emmanuel embarked on a solo career that found him to be the

recipient of numerous honors which include Gold and Platinum albums, Rolling Stone (Australia) Magazine's "Most Popular Guitarist", Gold Guitar Awards and a performance at the closing of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Emmanuel gave birth to and continues to play host to an annual four day

concert series "TommyFest" where many of the best musicians in the world gather to perform.

Emmanuel has most recently released a new double live concert DVD/ CD entitled "Center Stage". Filmed and recorded over three nights at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California, Emmanuel recorded everything in high definition using multiple cameras and the highest quality audio to capture his performance as close to perfection as possible. "I went out there with all the attitude and everything I could muster up", says Emmanuel. "I was expecting that the first night would probably be the one because that was the first one to sell out, but it just didn't turn out as good as I had hoped, even though there were some really great parts. So

the third night is the one we went with which was basically the whole concert. I am very pleased with what we came away with", added Emmanuel. Of the twenty-four songs Emmanuel is engaging from the start. Having captured such a rich and diverse cross section of his music abilities, it is hard to

select tracks that standout above the rest. "I think I play my best when I'm sitting in front of a microphone with headphones when I'm in the zone inside my guitar", says Emmanuel. "However things happen on stage that you don't do in the studio 'cause you're bouncing off people and the sound that is in the room and there's an energy and excitement. So you've got to tap into both. It's a dangerous line to walk if you're a person that really wants to put something out that people really want to examine it and go

through it with a magnifying glass. I haven't listened to the whole thing because I never liked listening to too much of my own stuff", added Emmanuel. "There's always a compromise especially in the situation like mine where when I go on stage you really gotta stand and deliver. It's not

like I've got fifteen hits that I can make my way through and do a good job on and sit there nice and relaxed. I've gotta sit there and entertain people and at the same time I know I'm recording so I've gotta try and do it well. When I walk on stage all my attention goes to the audience so

there is an element of sacrifice of perfection so to speak." Emmanuel has worked as hard as anyone to take his music to audiences all over the world realizing that conquering America is the Holy Grail for every performer.

"I've been coming here for a long time", says Emmanuel. "I have always been

willing to come back to build this audience. Everything has to have a plan. If there's anything I've learned in my life, if you want to achieve something you've got to go backwards and take the steps. You do take those steps coming here and being willing to play in a small place for no money.

Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to come back and play in a small place and make a tiny bit of money? Are you willing to come back a third time and sell out two nights and make a bit more money and get a bigger crowd? Than are you willing to come back and take a risk on a bigger theatre with the right promoter and show people you can draw a crowd?"

Emmanuel's philosophy has not gone unrewarded with record sales increasing with each new release and larger venues booking his shows. His biggest disappointment would be the lack of response from American television. "We been trying very hard to get Leno or Letterman", says Emmanuel, " But it is just so hard. Most artists who have achieved that have had some serious hits. We've been sending them material and people have been writing them. Sooner or later the hundredth monkey thing is going to happen. In the mean time things like youtube and myspace have really helped. We'll get there."

On June 10th Tommy Emmanuel played the first of two shows at Phoenixville's Colonial Theatre. Severe weather caused the power to go out at show time. Being the consumate professional, Emmanuel came on stage on time playing two sets illuminated by several flashlights, held by fans, lighting the stage. The promoter placed luminaries across the front of the stage to aid in the lighting of the stage which only added to the intimacy of the evening. The audience of several hundred were visibly appreciative of

Emmanuel's efforts. Emmanuel played many selections of his current release "Center Stage"as well as selections from previous releases. His guitar playing skills were impressive while his story telling was engaging. Emmanuel continues his non-stop touring through-out the U.S. and abroad the

remainder of the year and beyond. For more info on Tommy Emmanuel go to www.tommyemmanuel.com or http://www.myspace.com/tommyemmanuel1 To stay up to date on shows at the Colonial go to www.pointentertainment.com

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by Rob Nagy

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