Tommy Emmanuel is an Australian guitar legend. He has played with some of the world's most famous musicians, been awarded the Best Acoustic Guitarist by Guitar Player magazine twice and was named a Member of the Order of Australia because of his musical contributions and sharing Australian culture abroad.
On Sunday, music lovers in Bangkok can get up close and personal with the superstar when he performs for the fourth time in Thailand since 2008.
Emmanuel will also be giving three lucky young acoustic guitar players the opportunity to play on the big stage through the Acoustic Rising Star event. The Bangkok Post had a quick chat with Emmanuel ahead of his gig.
Describe your style of playing.
It's fingerstyle guitar, like piano playing for guitar. Fingers on both hands are used to pick strings to create rhythm, bass, drum and melody lines of a composition. My music encompasses most genres of music played fingerstyle.
What kind of music or which musicians have inspired you?
Chet Atkins was both a father figure and a mentor for me. Through Chet, Jerry Reed and Merle Travis I came to appreciate and learn fingerstyle guitar in terms of actual playing, and then artists such as Billy Joel, James Taylor and The Beatles in terms of songwriting.
What is your musical history? What moments stand out the most?
I began playing guitar at the age of four and performing at the age of six with my family band. I went on to play with a number of prestigious Australian bands, was a highly sought after studio musician, and finally became a solo artist. I had a great deal of success in Australia with my band and then started reaching out around the world as a solo artist, building audiences on every continent. Moments that stand out would be my appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the receipt of my Certified Guitar Player award from Chet Atkins, my performance at Les Paul's 90th birthday celebrations at Carnegie Hall, and playing on Michael Jackson's final album.
What is special about playing in your home country of Australia?
I have a very long history in Australia. Audiences know me from being a child artist to a band member, to a solo artist. My style is now studied, imitated and idolised by a generation of Australian guitarists. I have a unique style and am Australian _ that style could be tied to Australia as the origin of myself and my work.
What brings you back to Thailand?
Thai audiences are so welcoming and generous. They show such appreciation. And then there's the incredible food, great suits and unlimited Thai massages.
What do you see in young Thai musicians?
They have such a love for music and learning. Their enthusiasm to learn and experience all kinds of styles makes them very versatile.
What are you looking forward to most at the concert? What should people expect to see?
There is lots of new music, which Thai audiences have not heard before because much of it isn't recorded yet. So a lot of new music, plus the favourites that audiences always request.
_ Kelly Malone
Tommy Emmanuel will be playing on Sunday, October 28th, at the Scala Theatre.