One of Australia’s most acclaimed musical exports might not play to the most massive audiences in America, but for anyone who’s ever picked up a guitar or even had a casual interest in the instrument, Tommy Emmanuel is an absolute giant. Need proof? Well, outside of countless honors from Guitar Player magazine, a pair of Grammy nominations and two ARIA Awards from the Australian Recording Industry Association, he became one of just five players to be named a “Certified Guitar Player” by the iconic Chet Atkins by the time he turned 44.
The hand in glove collaboration was a mere bonus for a knockout night where top talents always stayed on display and Tommy Emmanuel in particular lived up to his distinguished title on absolutely every occasion.
Now 62, Emmanuel is all the more seasoned at wowing audiences, such as the up close and personal pair that visited Thalia Hall during a tour supporting his new project “Accomplice One” (which features Mark Knopfler, Jason Isbell, Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell and many others). Though no two shows from the finger picker are ever exactly duplicated, it’s also safe to say Sunday’s set was extra special as he wound around originals, covers, conversations and comedy, much to the delight of the dedicated.
Whether he was giving a nod to the aforementioned idol with “Windy & Warm,” going the ballad route for the standard “Over The Rainbow,” kicking up the aggression on his own “Blood Brother” (in support of Guitars For Vets) or keeping everyone guessing come “The Mystery,” Emmanuel was a genius at his craft. Along the way, there was a steady mix of rock, blues, country, folk and even polka via Buck Owens, hysterical impressions of Sean Connery as James Bond and Sylvester Stallone doing Shakespeare, plus workshop-like moments of technical explanation from a man who’s inexplicably never had a lesson in his life!
And speaking of Crowell, the veteran country/Americana troubadour and fiddle player Eamon McLoughlin not only opened with storytelling tunes off “Close Ties” and distinguished older cuts, but also joined Emmanuel to perform “East Houston Blues” and “Looking Forward To The Past” from their respective current collections. The hand in glove collaboration was a mere bonus for a knockout night where top talents always stayed on display and the headliner in particular lived up to his distinguished title on absolutely every occasion.
For a list of upcoming shows at Thalia Hall, visit ThaliaHallChicago.com.