May 09, 2008 ellen leahy Uncategorized
If anyone could produce actual sparks from playing a guitar it would be Tommy Emmanuel.
Central New York’s Guitar League again hosted Australian born Troubadour Emmanuel for a performance at Syracuse Center 4 The Arts on East Genesee Street in Syracuse last Tuesday night May 6. Emmanuel is a player with total mastery over the guitar, inside and out – yet he is a kind master – giving as much as he gets from his instrument of choice and making his intensity look like child’s play.
Although he has performed with orchestras and in countless duets his performances are mostly solo as his work really needs no accompaniment. He makes the guitar sound like an orchestra; he is a true performer with all that entails, including incredible timing and stage presence including eye contact with his audience.
Peter Ryan, a member of the Guitar League, said that Emmanuel started his career as a drummer, which make a lot of sense, as he knows how to use the guitar for percussion. Another astonishing ability is that he employs a style with his strings where he is often playing lead, rhythm and bass simultaneously. Ultimately, he understands the total spectrum of sound that is possible from a guitar and even some that seem impossible.
Worth noting is his newly acquired Gibson from Kalamazoo, Michigan. It’s a simple and true instrument made in 1934. Emmanuel said it was sold through Sears and Roebuck. A gentleman, who has since passed away from cancer, left Emmanuel this guitar. After explaining the sweet simplicity it would deliver, Emmanuel sat down and demonstrated how less can be more with a couple of numbers including a rendition of Mr. Bojangles that was so tender and beautiful. It perfectly played out the whole purpose of that particular song, as Sinatra’s classic performance of “One for my baby (and one more for the road.)”
First Barrigar CD “Dance with Me” makes debut
Each year Loren Barrigar, who is one of the Guitar League’s founders, and arguably CNY’s premier guitar player, spends some time up on stage with Emmanuel. This year Barrigar was billed with Tommy, stepping up and taking the stage as an equal. During his solo performance, he played a few of his standards and also new music from his new release CD that went on sale that night.
Barrigar is a treasure. He is reminiscent of those good lawmen that were the heroes of the westerns many watched while growing up in America in the later half of the 20th century. Tall, dark and handsome without any pretty boy.
His voice mirrors his persona and he has a strength and confidence about him, while also appearing gentle, the kind of gentle that goes with all-man. And also his words are often sparse and important, so you hang on them.
Barrigar is particularly fun to watch when he accompanies another player as he reads others well, knowing how to fit in, often appearing laid back while at the same time elevating the play. Emmanuel and Barrigar performed a couple of songs together that exemplified majestic musicianship. They were both obviously having a good time, expressed in their notes.
“It was Maton season,” as they both were playing this brand of guitar.
Check out YouTube for a sample
Emmanuel told the crowd a story of the power of YouTube relaying that he had sold out two shows in Sweden before he had ever even visited. When word spread that he was going to perform there, citizens got on Youtube for a taste and that’s when a second show needed to be added.
To gather your own understanding go to YouTube for a song Barrigar wrote for mentor Emmanuel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IsNFG48kIM&feature=related. Then check out some Tommy too.
But remember there is nothing like the real thing — Barrigar plays regularly through out CNY and look for Emmanuel’s visit next year — surely a highlight for anyone who loves the sound of a plucked string.