Guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel—a Chet Atkins protégé and one of only five guitarists honored with a “Certified Guitar Player” or C.G.P. award by the guitar legend—performs at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in support of its exhibition “Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player.”
During the 2011 salute to Atkins, Emmanuel, a musical prodigy who began playing guitar at the age of four, discusses his discovery and eventual mastery of Atkins’s famed fingerstyle technique, in which the bass and melody are played at the same time using a thumb pick instead of a flat pick. He and Atkins would eventually develop a lifelong friendship and musical partnership, which Emmanuel recounts in loving and humorous detail.
After a Q&A session with the audience (whose ranks include Duane Eddy, another guitar legend influenced by Atkins), Emmanuel performs a blend of his own songs and favorites from Atkins and other artists he admires. Among them: “Gameshow Rag” (Emmanuel), “Cannonball Rag” (Merle Travis), “To ‘B’ or Not to ‘B’” (Atkins, Emmanuel), “Windy and Warm” (John D. Loudermilk), “Nine Pound Hammer” (Merle Travis), and “Chaplin in New Shoes” (Boudleaux Bryant).
Emmanuel also breaks down the fingerstyle method of guitar playing that Atkins learned by studying one of his own guitar heroes, Merle Travis, using the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” and “Day Tripper,” as well as “A Taste of Honey” (made famous by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass), as examples.
Emmanuel showcases his command of cascading harmonics with the Judy Garland classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and shares how he struggled to learn the challenging harp- or waterfall-like effect, also used by Atkins, until Atkins appeared to him in a dream and showed him the way.
Other performances include the Jerry Reed-penned “Struttin’,” off Atkins’s “Me and My Guitar” album (Emmanuel says it introduced him to “sounds, inversions, chords, and ideas that I’d never heard in my life”), and renditions of Tanya Tucker’s “San Antonio Stroll” and the “Tennessee Waltz” alongside John Knowles, a fellow “Certified Guitar Player” awardee.
Presented in support of the exhibition “Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player” (August 12, 2011 through July 15, 2012), made possible by Gretsch.
Find out more about our public programming: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/plan-your-visit/exhibits-activities/public-programs/
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