There are guitarists, and then there are "certified guitar players." Steve Vai, for example, is not a CGP, whereas Tommy Emmanuel is. Even though Emmanuel has recorded with Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and toured with Shania Twain, you're probably more familiar with Vai. Don't feel bad, though, if the name of one of the world's foremost guitarists is causing you to draw a blank. Emmanuel has been fighting for name recognition since he began playing with the circus in his native Australia. Of course, he does prefer to play acoustic guitar, which means that he's usually relegated to performing at obscure folk festivals or at such off-the-beaten-path venues as an Irish barbershop or a WWII bunker turned jazz club. Emmanuel's songs take flight with roots-based classic pickers Chet Atkins and Mel Travis before detouring through the worlds of B.B. King, Larry Carlton, Stevie Wonder and, oddly, Billy Joel. Complex rhythms merge with five-finger picking and lightning-fast fills, resulting in the sound of several guitars playing at once.
Get the Music Newsletter