Friday was a real highlight and milestone for me, musically, career wise and personally. I got to perform with maybe the most beloved and incredible guitarist alive, Tommy Emmanuel. But performing with him was but one final moment in a day where we got to know each other and become friends. I got to absolutely re-live the thrill of being a kid and taking guitar lessons! A true friendship and mentor/protege relationship was set into motion. Most guitarists would give anything for this rare wonderful opportunity that I have had.
At 9:30 am, Tommy jumped into the hotel lobby and just embraced me with a big bear hug. “How ya doin’ brotha!!!” he said with his Aussie twang. We had a few laughs and I was cautious to let him unwind, but no…he asked me immediately up to his room. In a matter of seconds he showed me his guitar and played for me. It was like youtube came to life 12 inches away from my face. My jaw hung open. And, it was interesting to see what he packed, how he packed…after all he is THE road dog.
We went downstairs and had lunch and talked about more…relationships, road strain, but most importantly – communicating to an audience through music. He’s so passionate about this stuff! I bounced ideas off of him, and over lunch he gave me lots of great advice, especially this – “what other people think of you is none of your business!”. He’s describing the strength to forge ahead with one’s mission and not even think about others approval.
He took me back to the hotel room after lunch for rehearsal. I suggested “Tenderly” which we played together on the concert. Tommy was very specific about how I should accompany him, and showed me ways to get the melody to sing more. As he got the melody to sing he says “brother, that’s the difference between 80 or 800 in your audience!” We fooled around playing “On Broadway” and then, I just had to ask him about his tunes. We played “The Hunt” together and he was cracking up as we did it! Then we played “Tall Fiddler” and on both tunes he showed me spots I did not quite have 100% right.
We left for soundcheck and here is where I got to see his sheer mastery. He brought me over to his stage setup, which was so much simpler than one could imagine, and plugged in. I stood 2 feet away in the empty theater. From the first note, BOOM it sounded stellar and he just looked at me and said “no time to screw around, I want a sound and I want it NOW!” and cackled with laughter. I got a mini concert right there, just him playing for me and it was ridiculously…well, Tommy, right there 2 feet away, kickin ass, just like in concert.
Backstage, he said I’d come up after “Mombasa” his guitar percussion feature. Here’s where it turns into the guitarists hilarious LSD nightmare. You are backstage listening to Tommy play in front of 1400 people, just the most incredible stuff you’ve heard in your life….and then you realize that you have to follow up and play after him. I sat backstage and laughed at the sheer madness of it. Thank God for all the gigs in my life where I actually was nervous, because this was so ridiculous, all I could think was “well you wanted it, now you got it. Time to make music!”
As he called me out, there was nothing short of love, support and a grand introduction. Once I got on stage, all was cool…I performed “Superstition” and “Chameleon” and rocked out as hard as I could. I think the people really dug it.
Tommy then joined me for “Tenderly” which I heard the playback of about an hour ago – and it was MAGIC.
It could not have gone better! To have the opportunity, visibility and recognition of playing for and with Tommy is a real “name booster” in the guitar scene, but add to the mix that I got yet another music master to take me under his wing….that makes it a double whammy! Thank you God, Universe, Source!!! And thank you Tommy!
Pictures, videos and audio clips will be posted as soon as they are processed by the concert promoter, but thankfully it was all captured in HD and great digital audio as well.
I am smiling right now! Until next time…