Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tommy Emmanuel - Guitar Boogie - YouTube

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There is no denying that Tommy Emmanuel is a hell of a  good guitar player who puts on a good show pulverizing acoustic guitars with his claw-hammering virtuosity. He is a crowd pleaser, the sort of flashy musician that overwhelms audiences who have, I believe, only a passing familiarity with musicians and the instruments they play.It is not surprising that he is a PBS favorite, frequently featured in concert specials during their periodic Pledge Weeks. He annoys me after a point since everything he performs seems engineered--and "engineered" is exactly the word I want--to demonstrate how hip, slick and cool he is. Regardless of the musical style--folk, Irish, Latin grooves, hard rock, blues or swing or country (the man is versatile), the effect is same nearly all the time. There is a slow, almost lugubrious build of diminished chords, tasteful fills, harmonic overlays, efforts showing that he is capable of a light touch. But, before you know it, without warning or logic, he steps on the gas, runs the red lights, takes you barreling through the city streets with riffs that are speedy, precise, impressive, and sterile once your jaw starts to hurt from saying "oh wow" for some minutes. Emmanuel can, it seems, play anything he chooses on his guitar. Anything except music. Of course, given every reservation I've managed so far, I know I will listen to him again, watch him the next he appears on television, and perhaps attend a concert if given the opportunity. This is not taking back my remarks about his propensity to show off at the sacrifice of music that allows reflection; Emmanuel is showbiz, a showman, a fine technician who has found a method to make his virtuosity entertaining for an audience that wants to experience skill without having to work for it. That deserves respect, if not praise.

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