Ahead of his 2023 U.S. concert tour pegged to acclaimed current full-length collaborations album ACCOMPLICE TWO, Grammy-nominated acoustic guitarist extraordinaire, composer and global touring artist TOMMY EMMANUEL has shared a freewheeling “10 Questions” Q&A (below) where he talks about his inspirations and an array of subjects including his “Spinal Tap” moment; the JFK assassination; his desire to be on a bill with Carole King and James Taylor; and watching (as a kid) Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.
10 QUESTIONS WITH TOMMY EMMANUEL (2023)
Have you had a Spinal Tap moment in your career so far and can you describe it?
TOMMY: I’ve shown up at the wrong hall to play a show!!! Being a male, I don’t always follow directions well, and sometimes I’m convinced I know where I’m going!! That’s why I have a good Tour Manager…he knows!
If you could have a conversation with anyone who’s living or dead, who would it be and why?
TOMMY: If I could ask Jack Ruby to please tell me the truth about the assassination of JFK, I would love that!
Is there a song you crank up on Friday night to kick off the weekend—and a song you kick back with on a Sunday morning?
TOMMY: Every day is Saturday to me! Some days I like to listen to the Beatles, up loud, sing along and let go. Sometimes I need peace and quiet to be my sanctuary. I am always aware that I must try to preserve what hearing I have, as I was born with yellow fever, so I go carefully.
Which two artists would you like to appear on a dream bill with?
TOMMY: Carole King and James Taylor…What a song list that would be!!
Which famous historical event would you like to have witnessed and why?
TOMMY: I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969. I was at school in the Town of Parkes, NSW, Australia. The radio telescope that beamed the images all around the world of this historic event, made it possible for us to see it as it happened!! We had no idea of the significance of being in Parkes on that day, but it was big!
What was the first concert you attended and what was it like?
TOMMY: My mother, Virginia, took me to my first concert. I was 5, and it was held in the Town Hall of the place we lived, Gunnedah, Australia. We sat in the front row, and as I watched the great Dave Bridge Trio play, my mum leaned in and whispered, “See how he smiles, looks at the audience, stands so straight and tall? See how he looks neat, his shoes are shiny, his hair is perfect, his guitar is glistening in the spotlights. He talks to us, and we can understand him. Don’t forget all these things!”
What do you look forward to most when you return home from touring?
TOMMY: I always love getting to cook my own dinner and sleep in my own bed when I come home from touring. Then I love driving my car!
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
TOMMY: I would love to experience Django Reinhardt live! Charlie Christian with Benny Goodman and his big band, too, and I would love to hear Hank Williams up close, just to feel that mojo!
You have one question to ask one musician. Go for it.
TOMMY: Hey Larry Carlton, what amp did you play the solo on “Kid Charlemagne” through? What a solo!! What a sound! BRAVO!!
Can you talk about a particular book and/or film that has helped shape your sensibility as an artist?
TOMMY: I don’t think there is just one book or movie that has shaped me as an artist. I think it has been my curiosity about some artists that have inspired me to keep reaching for higher standards, higher goals, and deeper meaning for my art/gifts/calling or reason for being who I am. I look at people who move the world, who inspire us all; they somehow show us a way, a trail, a clue as to what they do that causes them to touch our sensibilities. Writers, Actors, Musicians, Producers, Speakers, Comedians and sometimes those who deal with tough physical or mental challenges and still achieve great works that have GREAT meaning in our hurting world. These are the ones that cause me to trust in a power bigger than myself, that make me see that my life has purpose, meaning and momentum. So now I get to work with a full heart, trying to do something that might change someone’s life for the better.
ABOUT TOMMY EMMANUEL:
TOMMY EMMANUEL has achieved enough musical milestones to satisfy several lifetimes. At the age of six, he was touring regional Australia with his family band. By 30, he was a rock n’ roll lead guitarist burning up stadiums in Europe. At 44, he became one of five people ever named a CPG (Certified Guitar Player) by his idol, music icon Chet Atkins. Today, he plays hundreds of sold-out shows every year from Nashville to Sydney to London. He’s piled up numerous accolades, including two Grammy Award nominations, two ARIA Awards from the Australian Recording Industry Association (the Aussie equivalent of the Recording Academy); repeated honors in the Guitar Player magazine reader’s poll including a cover story for their August 2017 issue; a cover feature for Vintage Guitar’s July 2020 issue; and was Music Radar’s reader’s poll #1 winner of the Ten Best Acoustic Guitarists in The World (December 2019). A noted fingerstyle guitarist, EMMANUEL frequently threads three different parts simultaneously into his material, operating as a one-man band who handles the melody, the supporting chords and the bass all at once. His talents, which translate in any language, carry him to the far corners of the globe, but EMMANUEL never plays the same show twice, and he improvises big chunks of every date. That leaves him open to those technical imperfections, though they also provide some of the humanity to an other-worldly talent. On May 8, 2020, he released a newly recorded career-spanning double album, THE BEST OF TOMMYSONGS, via CGP Sounds/Cruzen Street Records). Watch the album trailer here which focuses on TOMMY’s unique ability to tell stories without words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SOQEMWYAQ4&feature=youtu.be. EMMANUEL subsequently released three EP’s with different collaborators, Accomplice Series Vol. 1, 2 and 3, the last of which was in 2022.