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Tommy Emmanuel to open 2018 Adelaide Guitar Festival

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Australian guitar icon Tommy Emmanuel will open the 2018 Adelaide Guitar Festival with a trio he promises will deliver a night of “boundary-pushing” acoustic guitar.

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Tommy Emmanuel and Friends, at the Festival Theatre on August 9, will see him joined by two international talents, Pedro Javier Gonzalez (Spain) and Richard Smith (USA).

“Pedro is going to be such a great surprise for the Adelaide audience, that’s for sure, his style and the repertoire he has,” Emmanuel says.

“He and I play pop tunes together, and he has a great slant on it, a great style on that.

“And Richard and I re-create some of the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed things, but we also play Scott Joplin piano tunes and stuff like that. It’s going to be a bit of everything.

“It’s really about the eclectic quality of when you combine people from other cultures and other styles, when you combine it and it works magically.

“That’s changing music as we know it, and changing the boundaries of guitar music, and I just think that we’re going to create something in Adelaide that they would have never seen before, and that’s what I love doing.”

For an artist who has spent so much time perfecting his craft, Emmanuel acknowledges that it would be easy to become complacent, but it’s just not his style.

“I’m running headlong into tomorrow, and I want to see what’s around the corner, and I want to learn from everybody I meet in the process, you know?” he says.

“You’re always meeting people who kick your butt around the block and inspire you and challenge you. This is a great thing about music, and when you travel the world as much as I do, you see things and hear things that you just couldn’t imagine.

“I try to steal as much as I can from those experiences and make something myself. It helps to keep my mind open.”

It’s this inherent desire to continue to evolve that made Emmanuel an obvious pick for Adelaide Guitar Festival director Slava Grigoryan.

“Tommy has always been a musical chameleon in the way he does so many things so well and is very comfortable in different musical worlds,” Grigoryan says.

“Audiences can expect what you get at any Tommy shows – fireworks and incredible energy and virtuosic playing which is what he stands for.

“But you will also see so much musical colour at this performance thanks to the different musical language that Pedro and Richard will bring to it. It will be amazing watching Tommy adapt to the others’ playing styles.”

Far from being purely for the guitar lovers, Emmanuel sees plenty in Tommy Emmanuel and Friends for the broader public.

“If you love music and you love people who try to excel at anything, you’re going to have the time of your life,” he says.

“There’s nothing like watching somebody do something that they’re born to do. It’s a powerful thing.”

Tommy Emmanuel and Friends will play at the Adelaide Festival Centre on August 9, 2018, as part of the Adelaide Guitar Festival, which will take place from August 9-12.

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