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Tommy Emmanuel performs WMA with Chet Atkins and Buddy Rich influenced show

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Coming into the intimately gorgeous War Memorial Auditorium (WMA) last night, I immediately took note of the simple stage set-up; four stage speaker monitors, a stand with several acoustical electric guitars and a couple of microphones.

The deceptively simple set up spoke to me of an evening of guitar music; most likely classical, easy listening, maybe a vocal or two - obviously, I didn't have time to do my homework on this concert or artist, so needless to say (to those of you who know his work,) I was surprised and elated to find myself smiling, tapping and head bobbing to a full three-hour concert that was anything but laid-back, for want of a better word. Now, don't get me wrong, Emmanuel himself is certainly a laid-back, easy-going kind of guy, if I'm any judge of character, but his music, even during the slow pieces, was anything but laid-back (a term which sometimes translates as Boring.)

As the lights went down, I expected an opening act to walk out on stage but was surprised again when a Nashville Public Television (NPT) representative opened the show with not much more than a simple, "Without further ado, here is Tommy Emmanuel" and out he walked, grinning, a bounce in his step, like a kid at a Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop. That first impression set the stage for the evening; a three hour buoyantly light-hearted night, filled with smiles, a few entertaining stories, sprinkles of giggles, a little I'm-seriously tickled-to-be-here energy and some of the most incredible guitar playing I've ever heard - and I'm from Music City.

Now, here is where the night of surprises failed to disappoint: the auditorium wasn't filled with just the sounds of guitar but of drums, keyboard, whistles, chimes and I don't know what else thrown in. I swear, this man's guitar had a piano and set of drums hiding right inside it somewhere, or a built-in synthesizer; there was no way all this sound was coming out of one little acoustical guitar. Wrong again. Emmanuel can engineer sounds out of his guitar that I've never seen nor heard anyone else accomplish. I can't explain it any better than that. Please check out this YouTube video of Emmanuel showing how to play a drum solo on guitar to see for yourself.

Emmanuel started out playing guitar at age four, idolized, studied and was eventually mentored by Chet Atkins and was greatly influenced as a young man by a signed set of drumsticks given to him by Buddy Rich. This happened when as a fan from Australia, Emmanuel boldly knocked on Rich's tour bus door between three Rich concerts he had bought tickets to see, was invited inside, even given the chance to jam for a minute with the legendary drummer, before he was given a signed set of drumsticks and told good-naturedly by Rich, "Now get off my bus." This man has obviously taken the best of both of his heroes and put them into one mind blowing guitar driven stage show.

It's a show I won't soon forget, an artist I will now follow (In fact, on the way home from the show, I bought his Somewhere Over the Rainbow single on Itunes) and an evening I enjoyed tremendously.

WMA never disappoints, which seems to be a thought I'm quickly developing, as I add the famous downtown Nashville landmark to my review and article repertoire. Want to know what else is coming up at War Memorial Auditorium? Check out wmarocks.org for concert times, tickets and more information.

Coming up through March at WMA:

02/19
8:00 P.M.
Starting at $30.00
Lee Brice / Randy Houser with American Young and Parmalee
PRESENTED BY: WAR MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM

02/20
7:00 P.M.
Starting at $39.00
Buddy Guy with Robert Randolph & The Family Band
PRESENTED BY: LIGHTNING 100

03/07
7:30 P.M.
Starting at $23.00
Bring Me The Horizon - The American Dream Tour
PRESENTED BY: WAR MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM

Pink Martini with The Von Trapps image
03/13
8:00 P.M.
Starting at $35
Pink Martini with The Von Trapps
PRESENTED BY: WAR MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM

The Southern Soul Assembly Tour image
03/20
7:00 P.M.
Starting at $25.00
The Southern Soul Assembly Tour
PRESENTED BY: WMA AND MARATHON LIVE

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Linda's other columns: Gay Travel, Healthy Foods, Nashville Arts & Entertainment, Nashville Events, Nashville Health & Beauty, Nightlife, Food & Recipes

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