Widely recognised as the greatest acoustic guitar player in the world, two-time Grammy nominated artist Tommy Emmanuel is set to headline the 22nd annual Blues on Broadbeach festival on the Gold Coast.
Free to attend, Tommy is set to bring his infamous power and dynamism to the Blues on Broadbeach stage after a long-awaited return to Australia. As one of only five Certified Guitar Players (CGP) in the world bestowed by Chet Atkins, and often dubbed as a one-man band, we wanted to take a deep dive behind Tommy’s musical history and learn more about the man behind the strings.
What does blues music mean to you?
Blues music has been part of my life since I was a baby. The first music I heard was Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams and that is beautiful blues music. I love all kinds of blues, it speaks to me. It speaks to me about life and gives me a feeling like I’m connected to everybody on Earth. But we are all the same.
What do you think it is about blues music that keeps bringing people back to it?
I don’t think it is necessarily blues music that keeps bringing people back, I think it’s good music. It doesn’t matter what genre if it’s good, it’s good. To me, there are only two kinds of music in the world, good and bad. I prefer to listen to good music. Blues music played well can lift you up out of your chair, it’s just beautiful.
You previously said you have Chet Atkins to thank for your guitar skills and had reached out to him personally through letters, has there been anyone who has reached out to you the same way?
Chet Atkins was and still is a big part of my life. His style of playing definitely influenced me in every way. Not just in how to play a song, but how to find the best key to play it in, what tempo to play at, how to make my arrangements interesting, to make the melody my priority. All of those kinds of skills I learned from listening to him and so many others. I listen and learn from all genres and instruments. I listen to a song and can point out to you “this bit here, I got that idea from a piano player” or “that line there sounds like a saxophone line to me” and “I play with this feeling because I heard a drummer do that”. Things like that. It’s not just guitar skills its music skills in general that I get from other musicians.
As far as my influence, I’ve had thousands of people reach out to me over the years because we now have great communication with the internet. I’m happy that there are people that reach out about technical issues or how do you play that? It could be a simple answer like “I cover 2 strings with one finger” but they can’t figure out how I’m getting that extra note because they can’t see it on a video.
What is the best piece of performance advice you’ve ever received?
There are so many things I’ve learned from so many musicians. Maybe to just be real, choose good songs, and play from deep inside you. Reach deep inside and give the people everything you’ve got. As Sinatra said, leave it all out there.
You were due to perform at Blues on Broadbeach in 2021, but COVID restrictions put a stop to that – how does it feel to be finally playing Blues on Broadbeach and what can fans expect?
I am so looking forward to coming to Blues on Broadbeach. It was my brother Phil, that told me about the festival. I know that he’s played it before, and he was telling me how wonderful it is. So I am looking forward to giving all the fans and the blues fans the best I can possibly do! Can’t wait to see you all!
Apart from his highly anticipated set for Blues on Broadbeach, Tommy is also giving fans a special insight into his artistic journey with an intimate artist masterclass for Twelve Bar Society – Blues on Broadbeach’s exclusive membership. Become a member today and hear first hand from one of the greatest acoustic guitarists of all time, as Tommy chats and plays in this exclusive session.
With the upcoming release of his long-awaited album Accomplice Two on April 28, Tommy is sure to wow audiences at the four-day festival held from 18-21 May. Check out the lead single White Freight Liner Blues featuring Molly Tuttle below and start your countdown to Tommy Emmanuel at Blues on Broadbeach!