People expect an electric, mind-blowing experience when Tommy Emmanuel comes to town. His show at Tucson’s Fox Theatre was not an exception on Dec. 16. Emmanuel was borne in Australia and moved to the U.S. Even though he spends much of his life on the road, he still gleans excitement from performing before a sold-out show.
Jerry Douglas is considered to be the premier resonator and lap steel guitar performer today. His list of recordings and accomplishments is staggering. He has worked as a sideman with legends like Paul Simon, John Fogerty, Ray Charles, Ricky Skaggs, and many more.
Having two virtuosos on the same bill was a no-miss opportunity. AXS was there and here are five reasons to see them live.
1) Tommy Emmanuel is an acoustic guitar god
The stage was set with only three Macon acoustic guitars and two microphones. It is amazing that Emmanuel has made a career touring constantly solo on the stage, but what he does with his guitar is pure magic. His fingerpicking appears like it is on fast-forward. One can only wonder how he thinks so fast.
Emmanuel boasts that he is “in the Happiness business.” He has had no music lessons. He can’t read music. He never went to college. He attributes his success to hard work, dedication, and determination.
By the age of six years old, Emmanuel was the youngest professional guitar player in the world. He, later, came to the U.S. to meet and work with Chet Adkins. Adkins was the master of guitar picking and Emmanuel emulated Adkins’ style of playing.
2) A one-man band that can make his guitar sing
The personable performer explained how he plays bass, drums, the horn section, and lead guitar on a single acoustic guitar at the same time. He quipped, “Look at the money I’m saving.” This was a technique that was inspired by Adkins. However, Emmanuel has perfected the technique.
The incredible thing about Emmanuel is the harmonics of his performance never leads the listener to think that there is just one man on stage.
“Guitar Boogie” is a fine example of his fiery fingerpicking. He introduced the song as a tribute to his brother, Phil. “I lost my brother, Phil, recently. This is the first song we learned to play together.”
The bottom line is that Emmanuel is mesmerizing during his live shows. For a link to an interview with Emmanuel, click here.
3) Douglas is the Mohammed Ali of the dobro guitar
Douglas is a bluegrass master and he may be best known for his work with Alison Krauss and Union Station. This performance was a slick representation of just what Jerry Douglas does.
Douglas has 14 solo albums to his credit. However, he has played on more than 1,600 albums. He has won14 Grammy Awards even though he has been nominated for 31 Grammys. The Country Music Association has awarded him, Musician of the Year, three times. He is a ten-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association Dobro Player of the Year Award. The list goes on.
4) Douglas is the leader of the Jerry Douglas Band and the Earls of Leicester
The Earls of Leicester is a strictly all-star bluegrass band that is a tribute to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. The Jerry Douglas Band is a fusion band that blends jazz, country, blues, rock, and bluegrass music. The Jerry Douglass Band’s latest album release is What If. The album is a blend of instrumental and vocal music.
The Earls of Leicester just released a new album in September called Live at the CMA Theatre in the Country Music Hall of Fame. They are following this up with a DVD release in January 2019. This is celebrating the music of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.
Douglas announced early in his set “I have no skills.” Nothing could be further from the truth. He plays the dobro guitar effortlessly. Douglas’ set was a mere 40 minutes. It was a blend of songs from both albums. His rendition of The Allman Brothers’ “Little Martha” was a standout during the set. He hinted that he would return later in the evening. For a link to AXS' interview with Jerry Douglas, click here.
5) The meeting of the maestros was nothing short of brilliant
Emmanuel mentioned during his interview with AXS, ’The two of us are a good combination for a tour.” Nothing could be more understated. As promised earlier, Douglas was invited on stage during Emmanuel’s set for a five-song duet.
The two instruments blended as one as each played without egos taking over the music. Douglas had done vocals during his set. He has a compelling rasp that gives authenticity to any song. Their rendition of Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” had the older crowd on their feet shouting for more.
Emmanuel has plans to tour with Douglass in 2019 when he heads to Australia. “He has a lot of fans over there.” This is a show well worth catching.
For a complete set list, click here.