Australian guitar virtuosi PHIL AND TOMMY EMMANUEL are celebrating 50 years of performing together and the Tamworth Country Music Festival got a huge helping of their musical genius.
The brothers were honoured as this year’s inductees to the ‘Australian Country Music Roll of Renown’, Australian country music’s highest honour.
They made several impromptu performances around town, including with The Bushwackers (Tommy was a Bushwacker 1983-84, Phil in 1987) and also Stuie French’s Pickers Night.
The official Tommy and Phil Emmanuel 50th Anniversary Tour concert took place at West Tamworth League Club on Wednesday 19th January and the auditorium was packed with excited fans. Phil’s daughter Jesse Emmanuel opened the show solo with songs from her album ‘Everything I Know So Far…’, soon to be joined by her dad for a number before leaving the stage. The brothers then, Phil on electric and Tommy on acoustic, began a chronological journey through their musical careers, beginning with high energy versions of several classics by The Shadows, including Wonderful Land and Apache. Tracks from their joint album Terra Firma followed, with nods to New Zealand guitar legend Peter Posa (Nashville Express) and their favourite long-haired rocker, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Rondo Ala Turka).
With Phil taking a break, the multi-talented T.E. ALLSTAR BAND joined Tommy onstage, first as backing vocalists for Haba Na Haba from his latest album Little by Little, and then as a full powered musical group for a sweep through Tommy’s early solo hits including Determination from 1991, the title track of the biggest selling instrumental album of all time in Australia. It is rare to see to see him play electric guitar these days and the audience was clearly excited by the sight and sound of his battered old Telecaster. Rock on, Tommy!
Also from the Determination album came Tommy’s tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie’s Blues, and tonight’s rendition included harmonica played by LUKE DICKENS, who had recently been named the winner of the 2011 Toyota Star Maker competition.
Phil Emmanuel returned to centre-stage for some solo numbers with the band, including a show-stopping version of the operatic aria Nessun Dorma, à la Jeff Beck.
As the show drew to a close with Tommy back onstage and the brothers reunited, they revisited the tune Terra Firma which they previously played at the Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games.
For the final number, they brought back the ‘next generation’ as Jesse joined her dad Phil and Uncle Tommy to wind up the concert, with the over-whelmed audience calling for more. A triumphant night for instrumental guitar music and the two phenomenal Emmanuel brothers.