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series: Infinity Hall Live
air date: 9/25/13 3:00 AM
A perfect blend of guitar mastery and showmanship, Australian artist Tommy Emmanuel has proven to be an artist worth seeing live. Charming, energetic and down to earth, Emmanuel captures audiences with his personality and mesmerizes them with his guitar playing. A master of the guitar, Emmanuel plays with an organic passion and ease. "I don't read any music, I play everything by ear," he says. "I've never had any formal training." It's hard to imagine, considering his complex finger picking technique is nearly impossible to keep up with. He plays with all ten of his fingers, the way a pianist would. Rather than using a whole band for melody, rhythm, bass and drum parts, Tommy does it all himself, on one guitar. Born into a musical family, Tommy was considered a child prodigy who began playing guitar at age four. By the age of six, he was part of the family band, named The Trailblazers, which earned the family's sole income for several years. Emmanuel's first claim to fame came when The Trailblazers won two talent competitions and were able to produce an album. Emmanuel eventually left home for Sydney in order to take his musical career to the next level. By the 1970s, he was playing in clubs all over the city and was in demand as a session player on numerous albums and commercial jingles. In the early 1980s, he joined one of the decade's most popular Australian rock bands, Dragon, and toured widely with them. But it wasn't until Emmanuel decided to start a solo career that he truly rose to fame. He was first recognized for his album, Up From Down Under, by the Australian music industry and media. In 2002, Emmanuel caught the attention of American audiences when he released his first solo-acoustic album, Only. Since then, Emmanuel's popularity has skyrocketed, with a non-stop touring schedule and various honors and awards. He earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental, was named Best Acoustic Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine and Acoustic Guitar Magazine and was inducted into the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame. His show at Norfolk's Infinity Hall simply consists of three guitars, an amplifier and Emmanuel himself, but contains more raw energy and talent than a full band. This unforgettable performance full of spontaneous standing ovations from the enthralled audience features eight song selections and a medley of Beatles favorites.
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