View Full Version : No mando content but this is some good playin

Scotti Adams
Feb-21-2011, 5:43pm

Feb-21-2011, 6:03pm
Hotcha! And I got yer mandolin content - the B side of the original single? "Mandolin Boogie!" ;) :cool: :mandosmiley:

Feb-21-2011, 7:52pm
And he sings too. Check out his fingerstyle playing:


As a percussion player myself--sometimes tapping my bass or guitars for percussive effect--this kind of approach is something I really enjoy.

Feb-21-2011, 10:23pm
Impressed -- but not moved.

Ivan Kelsall
Feb-22-2011, 3:09am
I've seen Tommy Emmanuell a few times over here in the UK. The first time i was blown over,but having seen him again,i got a bit tired of the 'showmanship' side of his performances. He's without doubt a great Guitarist,but there are many more out there,who for me,are more musical & less showy,

Feb-22-2011, 9:36am
I hadn't heard of him - out of my sphere of interests - but plenty others have. From the wiki: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Emmanuel) In the May 2008 and 2010 issues of Guitar Player Magazine, he was named as "Best Acoustic Guitarist" in their readers' poll. But I agree with Ivan - I value musicianship over showmanship, and prefer people who just stand or sit still and play, letting their fingers do the talking - not their arms, legs, hair, or facial expressions. Chet Atkins, for instance. Not that he is over the top in this clip - that is a more general viewpoint for me. Though perhaps all those voters were influenced to vote for him over others because of the showmanship - so it could be seen as a successful approach. ;)

Scotti Adams
Feb-22-2011, 11:04am
Dare I say it?? Uh what about Thiles theatrics. Hes way over the top.

Feb-22-2011, 11:47am
When you have chops like that, I'm thinking that you can do whatever you want. As a solo performer, I'm sure it doesn't hurt Tommy's career to produce a showy style. I'll bet that he could also sit relatively still and be quite capable of knocking your socks off.

Feb-22-2011, 12:15pm
CT IS way over the top, in this regard. Gives me the willies sometimes. OTOH, playing is more important than performance, however it is done, so I don't mind seeing someone get a bit expressive, physically, if the music being produced is thrilling. I'm listening more than watching, so to speak. But thank you, MTV, for all you did to make music a visual medium. :-P

I should mention I don't really think TE is wiggling too much or anything, and this consideration is ultimately irrelevant to the OP's point. And I agree with you, cat - in fact he IS rather knocking my socks off in this clip, and the other longer version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNZL7GkqeRI) as well (much more "showy"). Just something that rattles around in my echoey brain. And Ivan may have been referring to TE's musical style more than anything else, anyway. :)

Feb-22-2011, 12:20pm
Technique is wonderful! Being able to generate a blizzard of notes -- and not just any notes, but precisely selected and accurately picked notes -- is a tribute to natural talent, motivation, training and practice, and innate musicianship. My hat's off to Tommy Emmanuel as a superb guitar technician.

That I don't feel any emotional connection to his music, perhaps says more about me than about Tommy or his music. I remember the first time I saw Doc Watson, more than 45 years ago, and how I was blown away by his guitar playing -- the cleanly played fiddle tunes, the super-Travis-style fingerpicked instrumentals. But there was connection on another level, the sense of a performer revealing himself and his roots and part of his life.

I've heard some amazing pickers over the past half-century, and some have reached me with their music. A guitarist like Eric Clapton might play ten notes where Tommy Emmanuel will play fifty, and yet I hear Clapton in a way I don't hear Emmanuel. I hear Bill Monroe in a way I don't hear Chris Thile. I hear Phil Wiggins (harmonica) in a way I don't hear John Popper. Is this just an aging folkie's prejudice, or is there a musical content that goes beyond technique?

Couple quotes (both from banjo players, oddly enough):

Pete Seeger: "The tenor banjo was ruined, really, by exhibitionists who made an athletic exhibition out of each performance; after the piece was over the audience was amazed, of course, as at the circus, but it was not music which moved or delighted one." -- How To Play the 5-String Banjo, p. 61
Frank Proffitt: "I'd like to be able to play like Earl Scruggs -- and then not do it."

Feb-22-2011, 1:51pm
In that original clip he's got a very mandolinny way of holding his pick.

Feb-22-2011, 2:46pm
I don't argue with any of journeybear's or allen's comments, and probably agree with most of it..

When I was a kid, I liked flashy stuff--this is what compelled me about bluegrass, in fact, when I was 15 and commenced studying Scruggs-style playing. But this was but a fleeting interest--and I grew up in the 70s playing David Bowie covers in rock bands, so a "florid" style was popular in those days..

And I like the Minutemen, Buzzcoks, Cramps, Husker Du, early Meat Puppets...Jack White, as well as TE, CT, Tim O., Bill Monroe... In fact, this is where this punk stuff has commonality with "old-time" trad music--a response to the "excesses" of the day. but I digress..

And I suspect that Tommy E. makes more money through flamboyant performance--as it can appeal to more folks in larger venues, etc.

I tend to let my body move while I play. This may have something to do with me being a drummer and bassist, and someone who enjoys dance.

But here is what can be done with "extended technique" without "histrionics":

My preference is for the "cool" approach:

Of course, Segovia would say that all this flamenco is banal...

Ole Joe Clark
Feb-22-2011, 9:35pm
We saw Tommy last night, and were both moved and amazed. As a bluegrasser I don't relate a lot of his music, but as a lover of good music, especially stringed instruments, I really liked his playing. Sure he played some out of this world tunes that probably only he can pick, at about 9,000 notes a minute :-), but then he did some Travis stuff that I had heard before, that I really liked and can relate to. He also did some slow, great tunes he had written, one that really moved me was one called "Ruby's Eyes", named after a little girl he met in an airport. He playing without a break for well over 2 hrs, and I enjoyed every minute.

Everybody should see Tommy Emmanuel at least one time.


Payit Forward
Feb-22-2011, 10:15pm
Everybody should see Tommy Emmanuel at least one time.



Tommy is my absolute favorite guitar act. The combination of stunning virtuosity and entertaining showmanship is unmatched by anyone I have ever seen. You have to see him.

Clement Barrera-Ng
Feb-23-2011, 1:42am
Everybody should see Tommy Emmanuel at least one time.

++ 1 as well.

I am a big fan of Tommy, and while I love 90% of all the stuff he plays, there are some tracks that I really don't mind skipping over - for one reason or another: maybe not my genre, too new-agey etc. But he remains one of my favorite musician of all time for a couple of reasons:

- He has absolute and total control over his instrument: I know there are virtuosos and then there are those who possess such a mastery of their instruments that they seem a part of them. Jimi Hendrix is one; Chris Thile and Monroe no doubt are as well. And then there is Tommy - he can make the guitar do anything - play like a speed demon, makes it cries, play rhythm on it. or maybe even cook a meal. The sense of disbelief each time I watch him play is overwhelming.

- He may be seen as showy, or over the top; but to me, he plays with such enthusiasm and excitement that it's infectious. When he's going at it, you know there's nothing he'd rather be doing. He seems so into what he's doing with the guitar that you'd wonder if he would ever want to do anything else.