Boston, MA- Tommy Emmanuel is set to perform The Wilbur Theatre on Thursday June 20th, 2013 at 7:30pm

Two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel is one of Australia’s most respected musicians. The legendary guitarist has a professional career that spans five decades and continues to intersect with some of the finest musicians throughout the world. A household name in his native Australia, Tommy has garnered hundreds of thousands of loyal fans worldwide. Tommy’s unique style – he calls it simply "finger style" – is akin to playing guitar the way a pianist plays piano, using all ten fingers. Rather than using a whole band for melody, rhythm, bass, and drum parts, Tommy plays all that – and more – on one guitar. Guitar legend Chet Atkins was one of the first to inspire Emmanuel to try this "fingerpicker" style as a child. Decades later, Atkins himself became one of Emmanuel’s biggest fans.

On February 15, 2011, Tommy released his latest solo 2-disc album Little By Little to great reviews. The 24 tracks, spread over two discs, brilliantly showcase Emmanuel’s distinctive “finger style” playing, using all ten fingers, and features collaborations with special guests Rick Price, Anthony Snape, Victor Wooten, Doyle Dykes, Dr. John Knowles (CGP), Pam Rose and others. The album’s tempo moves from break-neck, in-your-face finger-picking tunes such as “Locomotivation,” “Mighty Mouse,” and “The Welsh Tornado” that have their roots in Merle Travis, Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins to more melodic songs such as the title track “Haba Na Haba,” – Swahili for “little by little” – which is featured twice both as an instrumental version and a vocal version with Anthony Snape and Pam Rose. The album also includes live favorites such as “Ruby’s Eyes,” “The Fingerlakes,” “Jolly Swagman,” and “Papa George” which have never been recorded in a studio.

Emmanuel’s unusual talent and life are common lore in Australia. Born into a musical family, Tommy and his older brother Phil were considered child prodigies. Tommy got his first guitar at age 4 and was taught by his mother. He learned by ear, with no formal instruction, and has never read music. By the age of 6, he was already working as a professional musician in the family band, variously named The Emmanuel Quartet, The Midget Surfaries and The Trailblazers. Tommy played rhythm guitar and his older brother Phil played lead, along with their brother Chris on drums and sister Virginia on slide guitar. The Emmanuel siblings earned the family’s sole income for several years. By age 10, Emmanuel had played his way across Australia.


In 1962, Tommy heard Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins’ music for the first time and was riveted by the complexity of Atkins’ solo sound. He spent hours trying to figure out the "fingerpicking" style and gobbled up each of the American star’s albums as they came out. Shortly after his father’s death in 1966, Tommy even wrote Chet a letter and the famous artist and producer wrote him back. Chet would grow to become Tommy’s mentor, but it would be another 15 years before the two would finally meet in person.

Tommy embraced big city life in Sydney in order to pursue his career as a professional guitarist. By the 70’s, he was playing in clubs all over the city and soon found himself in high demand as a session player and sideman. During the mid 70s through the early 80s, Emmanuel played on recordings for Air Supply, Men at Work and dozens of other popular bands and artists, as well as thousands of commercial ‘jingles.’

In 1980 Emmanuel made a trip to the United States and finally met and got to play with his hero, Chet Atkins, in Nashville. From that magical moment forward, the Tennessee master guitarist and producer took the twenty-something Australian ace under his wing and began introducing him to other guitar legends. Emmanuel’s technical precision, his virtuosic improvisations and his unusually broad repertoire – which encompasses not only country and bluegrass, but pop, jazz, blues, gospel, even classical, flamenco, and aboriginal styles – bespeak Chet Atkins’ legacy.


Emmanuel got his solo instrumental career off the ground with the release of the gentle and textural Up From Down Under album in 1988. In the 90’s his efforts blossomed and began to be recognized and rewarded by the Australian music industry and media. Sales of his albums set records that have yet to be broken.


Tommy was well-known in Australia, Asia, and Europe long before his presence was felt in the U.S. However, in 1997 his album Midnight Drive was in the top five for 16 weeks, which made him the “most added artist” on the NAC radio charts that year. In Nashville in 1999, Tommy was honored by his mentor, Chet Atkins with the title of “Certified Guitar Player” for his contribution to fingerstyle guitar, a rare distinction shared by only four other people in the world (Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner, John Knowles and Paul Yandell).


After Tommy’s appearance with his brother Phil in the Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games in late 2000, Americans wanted to know who this mysterious Australian guitar virtuoso was. In 2001, Emmanuel released his first solo-acoustic album, ONLY, and in 2002 it debuted in the U.S.

Emmanuel’s popularity in the US has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, aided by a non-stop touring schedule and increasing exposure in the media.  Tommy was the first non-American inducted into the National Thumbpickers’ Hall of Fame and awarded with Thumbpicker of the Year and Album of the Year. He played Carnegie Hall for Les Paul’s 90th birthday Tribute Concert. His The Mystery album earned a Grammy nomination in 2006 for Best Country Instrumental for ‘Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag’. In 2008, Guitar Player Magazine and Acoustic Guitar Magazine named him Best Acoustic Guitarist and Gold Medalist – Fingerstyle category in the Readers’ Choice and Players’ Choice Awards.


In all, Emmanuel’s catalogue includes over 20 musical recordings running the gamut of solos, duets, ensembles, cover tunes, originals, both electric and acoustic guitar. At 54, performing live is more important to him than ever and he tours constantly, playing over 300 concerts a year for the last five years. Guitar players of all levels come to his shows to watch the magic hands of the ‘guitar Wizard of Oz,’ but his appeal goes far beyond musicians. His live shows are known for their humor, passion, and infectious joy. Tommy Emmanuel’s message is pure love for the music and his delight in sharing it with the world, one audience at a time.

Bill Blumenreich presents Tommy Emmanuel

Thursday June 20th, 2013 at 7:30pm

The Wilbur is located at 246 Tremont St. in Boston’s Historic Theatre District

Tickets: $29.50-$39.50

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