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Concert preview: Getting into the Christmas spirit, guitar style, with Tommy Emmanuel

Published November 28, 2016 10:31 am

Concert preview • Australian-born acoustic virtuoso will interpret holiday classics at Kingsbury Hall.
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For a guy who can seriously shred on guitar, Tommy Emmanuel has a real soft spot for Christmas music. The acoustic guitar virtuoso brings his Classics and Christmas Tour to Kingsbury Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 30, for holiday favorites and some of his original holiday compositions.

Considered one of the greatest acoustic guitarists of all time, Australian-born Emmanuel has a discography spanning nearly 40 years, but says he's "constantly trying to learn new things."

"I'm still working on it every day," he said.

Emmanuel has been playing for 55 years and is most noted for his fingerstyle picking, a technique he describes as "playing the piano on the guitar." It allows him to cover all the parts in a song — the melody, baseline and chords — on his guitar, which he's named "The Mouse."

"It sounds more complete because I think like a whole band when I'm playing," Emmanuel said.

His skills earned him two Grammy nominations, as well as being named a "certified guitar player" by his mentor Chet Atkins, a title the late guitar legend gave to only four other guitarists.

Atkins' influence also brought Emmanuel to Nashville, where he met up with artists Pat Bergeson, Annie Sellick and John Knowles, his collaborators on the Classics and Christmas Tour. The tour features a new Christmas song Emmanuel wrote, called "Christmas Time," which has all the elements of a classic holiday tune, but features his intricate guitar stylings accompanying the cheerful vocals.

Emmanuel tends to carry Christmas spirit with him all year round. When he's not playing sold-out shows or teaching guitar master classes, he does a bit of philanthropy work, including auctioning instruments in his guitar collection to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.

"I definitely like being able to help in any way I can," he said. "I know a lot of people in my business who do great work — I do the best I can with what I've got."

Though he's missed Christmas a few times while on tour, this holiday the world-class musician plans on spending time with his 2-year-old daughter.

"She's got a ukulele she plays," he said. "She's already on track to be better than me." Tommy Emmanuel

The veteran Australian guitarist, known for his unique "finger style" playing technique, plays two sets on his Classics and Christmas Tour — an acoustic solo performance of his classics, and a set of Christmas songs with Pat Bergeson on guitar and harmonica, John Knowles on guitar, and singer Annie Sellick.

When • Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.

Where • Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $29.50, $39.50 and $49.50; Ticketfly






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