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In Conversation with Tommy Emmanuel

Adam Leaver: May 3, 2023
Full transcript below!

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The living legend himself pays us a visit here at the Village, and treats us to some playing, some amusing stories from a life spent on the road, and some tips on learning to play the acoustic guitar.

Full Transcript

Take one and see me in the morning yes when you’re playing live how do you get your sound this is my main guitar on tour the the te personal this is a custom shop made by andy allen and i have three of them on the road sometimes i mean depending when i’m touring in america and i’m using a bus i i carry four or five guitars because i can you know when you’re flying around the way we do you got to carry the minimum that you need but you know i mean the truth is i could do the whole show with just one guitar but what happens if i break a string what happens if something you know the batteries go flat in the middle of the show you know so i i i always carry three first of all let me tell you that my sound man uh steve law is is awesome and um you know he’s he’s my my uh main uh weapon live you know uh he makes it sound so natural and that’s a great thing so him and i work together or everything that i’m playing through is set flat so you’ve got all the frequencies laid out there right so i come out of the main into a tuner the only pedal i have on stage is a tuner that mutes right i come out of that i go into a preamp which is made by uh udo rosner the the same as the aer yes yeah so i have the preamp and that’s a big fat signal that goes straight into the pa then i come out of that and go into the um uta rosner amp and we come out of the amp into the pa as well so there’s a direct signal and there’s the amp signal so it’s two separate signals but i don’t know exactly where how steve does it but he brings the two together and so what you’re getting is all the frequencies that you like that’s brilliant so you’ve done probably countless gigs by now have you got any funny gig stories you can share with us oh well there’s been a few times where um the power has gone out in in the whole town or in the hall and i’ve had to finish the show just acoustically just um pull out the feedback buster unplug go to the edge of the stage and play just acoustically some some places like i remember i played a show in in new guinea above australia and they hadn’t had many shows up there and i i remember walking around the crowd with a little torch in my mouth because there was no like the power kept going out because they’d never drawn that much power i had a pa in light and as soon as i started playing all the power went out yeah so there are those kind of things uh and i think everybody has a story of going on stage with your fly undone but uh yeah i’ve been i’ve been pretty pretty lucky that that um my stuff is so simple you know i’m i’m kid compact on the road i carry my sound man who’s also my tour manager i carry my lighting guy who’s also like my guitar caddy uh i don’t have a guitar tech i’m the guitar tech i don’t want people touching my guitars i know how to to set it up how i like it um and and i carry merchandise people other than that it’s just us you know and we keep it simple so at the moment we’ve talked a little bit about your mate on the custom shop t personal could we have a look at the laravel back in the uh [Music] 90s i was living at the home of chet atkins and his wife and chet and i were playing every monday night at a place called cafe milano in that which no longer exists in in nashville and one night there was a family of long-haired bearded people in the front right in the front having the time of their lives and we finished the show and they came backstage and it was jean laravey and his wife and his sons and he’d never seen me or heard of me i was a complete stranger to him and he came up to me and he said your music was fantastic and where are you staying and i said i’m over at chet’s house and and i gave him the address and the next day a taxi came over with a guitar like this but it’s uh it’s the c10 that has the real uh shiny finish right and it has the angel up and it has all the pearl work and everything it’s just gorgeous guitar and i opened the case and there was a note in it and it said uh how much he loved the show and everything and please accept this as a gift there are no strings attached wow yeah so um he just wanted to give me that guitar and as you can imagine that was 96. as you can imagine that guitar just has frequencies it’s a completely different beast to this one but this guitar has no no pickup it’s just an acoustic guitar this guitar is great for everything i need for touring it records great this is a different sound it’s more complex as far as the low mid range goes and there’s different highs because it’s rosewood um and so when john came to me john jr came to me and said we want to build a tribute guitar to you um can we do that and will maten be okay about it and i rang them and they said yeah sure go ahead and so i said to him well it can’t be you know electrified because maiden already have that covered so let’s just make the best and most affordable good acoustic guitar so that we decided to go with the un unfancy no no pearl work and stuff keep it simple keep the price down but but the quality you know there so you can hear

incredibly loud even sweet

it’s got all the frequencies you know so for my money it’s probably the the best just acoustic instrument in that price range that that there is from someone that’s at the top of their game do you have any tips for people learning the acoustic guitar just trying to make headway with it yeah learn some good songs you know songs are our teacher you know um all that awards that don’t feed the family you know me working hard and getting out there and making a living is you know people forget to talk about that stuff but you know if you’re a musician that’s great but you’ve still got to make a living you’ve still got a family to feed and bills to pay like everybody else you know and people are always saying you know why do you work so hard you know it’s like well first of all i love working hard and i i get better when i the harder i work the better i get but you know i’ve got i’ve got responsibilities and i’ve got a mortgage and a car payment like everybody else you know um and so it’s important uh that that that you realize that and live in the real world um you know there’s there were some guys playing in a in a pub the other day and and i really felt for them because nobody was listening to them right but that’s what you get for playing in a pub and the thing is they were quite happy doing that and i knew that i could tell just by the way their kind of demeanor and i said you know yeah these guys know they’re earning a living even if they’re not you know being the entertainment uh factor they’re they’re still playing music and they’re still getting paid for it god bless them you know i did that for so long i played in restaurants and bars and places where nobody listened and i said to myself i’m i’m a concert player i’m going to get there i just have to get through this and make a living you know oh that’s just fantastic oh it’s true when i listen to your playing there’s lots of different influences in there uh-huh who would you say is your biggest well um i’m a songs player and i’m a songs writer so you know my technique uh you it’s a combination of listening to chet atkins mill travis and jerry reed they’re they’re the kind of pillars right but then you’ve got um james burton albert lee uh the beatles uh and and just everyone else you know i grew up listening to country music and blues music and stuff uh and jazz django reinhardt is still one of my biggest influences and one of my all-time favorites so my style has evolved and it’s kind of like i think i was probably in my mid 30s which is 30 years ago when i realized oh this is my sound this is my voice this is who i am and and you know it’s a good idea to be make peace with that because you can’t i i can’t be a bb king i i can’t be segovia i i can’t be joe satriani i have to be me and i have to find peace and acceptance in that and do the best i can and then eventually what happens is you start to love uh the sound that you make and that that crea when you love that you can pour yourself into it and when you do that people feel it you know so if if i if i you know i wrote a tune for my daughter rachel and i listened to paul mccartney singing blackbird a hundred times and just let it go into me just let it sink in and then i wrote this song it’s nothing like blackbird but every time i play it i get that feeling that that’s where it came from

Take two and see me in the morning

[Music] there it is you know so um you know i i think the importance of of uh being a composer is what makes you different you know there are a million people who got more technique than i’ll ever have but um i can write a song that can tell you a story and you don’t need words to understand what it’s about and i don’t know how to explain that but it’s just how i’ve evolved as a writer and a player you’re currently on a european tour how many dates are you doing so we’re um we’re playing in belgium um and in antwerp and then we go to paris and and then we come in here to the uk so this has been it’s been you know two and a half nearly three years since i i played here i just want to tell you that that i think the public in general are really hanging out for um for some entertainment for some music and to get out and do normal stuff you know i just had three tours in america that were the biggest numbers i’ve ever played to and the biggest merchandise sales of my entire life people bought everything you know we we ran out of t-shirts long-sleeve t-shirts the first night they bought something like 300 t-shirts it was like how’s this possible it’s just that a people are saving money and and and they’re dying to get out and and do something so you know uh i’m just hoping and praying that the english uh folks are the same and that that they they want to come out and and have a good time and and uh it’s another reason why i wanted jerry douglas to do this tour with me because people have seen jerry with uh you know the transatlantic sessions and also with um um allison krause in union station but they’ve never seen him do his own thing and i think this is going to be a great thing for for people because jerry and i can work totally solo but we also have a real good chemistry together oh brilliant and you also you’ve got a few dates with mike dawes as well he’s a local lad yeah great guitar village customer oh he’s incredible guitar player oh he’s great yeah how did that happen well um my mike is managed by my manager uh brian panicked and um we saw mike years ago of course on on on youtube and i said to my manager let’s get him on the dates because he’s so different you know um i don’t do all the things that mike does i i don’t do i can’t do he does them you know i’m a guy like andy mckee i i can’t play the way he plays and that’s a good thing you know when i tour i expect my opening act to bring something special to the night so you know if i had another player who played a lot like me when there are several um it will be too much of the same thing you know so i think a guy like mike brings a different mojo to the night you know absolutely yeah and i want to tell you that mike and i just did the december tour together and uh and some dates in january and we stayed in la after the tour and recorded five songs and that’ll be coming out soon uh uh an ep with me and my door so i love that well thank you so much for spending the time to talk to welcome we really appreciate it and good luck on your tour thanks a lot there you go something a little different

that was brilliant thank you so much you’re welcome there you go i haven’t played it for so long that was something else

well good thank you guys we really appreciate that that was brilliant honestly


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