Eddie Pennington, Joe Robinson, Tommy Emmanuel, and Striking Matches share solo performances and pick together to show the versality and vintage sound of Gretsch guitars. Held on July 16, 2016, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the program was presented in support of the exhibition “American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection.”
Eddie Pennington opens the set with a nod to thumbpicker Mose Rager on “Mose’s Blues.” The setlist also offers “Daddy Long Legs” (performed by Joe Robinson), “Chaplin in New Shoes” (written by Boudleaux Bryant, recorded by Atkins for 1971’s “For the Good Times and Other Country Moods,” and performed here by Tommy Emmanuel), and “Pick Up the Pieces” (performed by Striking Matches’ Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmermann).
In the second round, Pennington and Emmanuel pair for Merle Travis’s “Nine Pound Hammer,” followed by Robinson’s performance of “Hurricane.” Emmanuel tells a heartfelt story about the first moment he held a Gretsch guitar, then plays “Ol’ Brother Hubbard,” a tribute to Jerry Reed. (Emmanuel plays a prototype of the 6120 model from 1954.) Striking Matches concludes the round with “Saving All My Tears,” which they wrote after listening to a Patsy Cline box set.
The third round begins with Pennington playing Merle Travis’s “Blue Smoke,” followed by Robinson’s original “Flaming Arches” (based on a dream of burning down a McDonald’s), Emmanuel’s “Sail On,” and Striking Matches’ “Make a Liar Out of Me.” All five guitarists close the program with “Cannonball Rag,” which Emmanuel describes as “the thumbpickers’ national anthem.”
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