|There is a reason they call Tommy Emmanuel
the reigning king of finger style guitar – that’s because he is.
And, last night in concert at the Furpeace Guitar Camp near Darwin, Ohio
(where???) he proved it again with an incredible performance (if not, a
religious experience) for a small, yet wildly exuberant audience of very
lucky (and, surprised) guitar music lovers. Folks, the man is, bar none
– the best stand up guitarist on the planet.
The ranch is a beautiful little camp nestled in the
rolling foothills of southeast Ohio owned and run by Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame inductee Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane fame, and his
lovely wife, Venessa. They basically cater to blues/light rock acoustic
guitar affectionados that spend relaxing weekends at the camp learning
and enjoying that genre of music from a selection of very fine
guitarists that the Kaukonen’s invite in from all over the world.
(Past invitees have been our own OFGC club members John Morgan, and Pete
"Mr. Smooooth" Cavano.)
Most of the 16 – 20 weekend campers and additional
50 – 60 of us Saturday night concert attendees (including the Furpeace
Ranch ownership and staff) had never heard Tommy play much, if anything
before. And, I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn here when I
suggest that as catchy and soulful that blues is – even the best ain’t
rocket science. However, young co-guest instructor and fellow
Australian, Geoff Achinson, who opened for Tommy, did his best to
dispute my theory with a display of a tremendous talent for finger style
and flat pick blues, and an incredibly funky voice. In my estimation his
guitar playing surpassed both industry icons Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric
Clapton. He could be a headliner anywhere in the world of blues.
However, unbeknownst to the unwitting audience –
this evening was about to become a revelation of what guitar music can
really be. A talent and dedication to playing that far exceeds even the
wildest expectation of what we surmise is even possible to be played on
a guitar – let alone be able to actually play it ourselves. A man who
lives by the guitar, and for his audiences – no matter how large or
small. Mr. Tommy Emmanuel – cgp (written on each and every autograph
with the utmost pride and a tear in his eye…)
He glides through the most difficult arpeggios, runs, licks and
seemingly endless raptures of pure tone/harmonics with the appearance of
the effort of wiping his nose. Any three of his notes would take me a
lifetime of practice to even find. And, his emotional movements on stage
add another whole dimension to the wonderful experience. He doesn’t
just play music – he squeezes it out of his fingers and pores on his
forehead – all at the speed of light….
And, just about when you think you’ve heard it all – he performs
another miracle right in front of you. Anybody that has tried to play
touch finger harmonics and the more difficult alternating pure tone and
harmonic scales popularized by Chet, Jerry and Lenny know how difficult
they are. Those guys all used them sporadically, with great effect, in
many of their arrangements. Well, Tommy does an arrangement of the
Beetles tune "Michele" – with ALL harmonics. The whole
damned tune with the most complex sounding harmonics I have ever heard.
(If I’m not mistaken he put in a lot of his patented
"triplet" harmonics.) Absolutely the most amazing tune I have
ever heard played on a guitar.
It was an evening of guitar music well worth the few hour trip to
Darwin, Ohio and the beautiful Furpeace Ranch. Mr. Emmanuel is welcome
back to Ohio anytime he wants to visit.
Palmer Moore – Organizer
Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club