On 7/12/11, 3 lucky guitar enthusiasts got to travel in the luxurious confines of a Toyota Highlander, enjoying each other’s company and long-time affinity for Chet Atkins and guitar picking, to eat at Corky’s BBQ, and to attend the wonderful tribute concert to Chet Atkins, which Artisan Guitars made possible, along with many volunteer-workers.
Tickets were $25 in advance and it was pretty much a full house. Doors opened at 6 and the event itself around 7.
The leading attraction was of course the famous Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, whom I had the honor of meeting and whose hand I shook with glee as he autographed my copy of “Guitar Pickers Take Over the World,” an album he worked on with the late great Chet Atkins himself.
The strong opening act was Brooks Robertson, of whom I had never heard previously, but really enjoyed, so I bought his album and got to shake his hand afterward and speak briefly with him about music and fingerpicking guitar. He had a tranquil sense of calm about him and a strong jaw and a youthfulness that reminded of Chet Atkins himself. I also noticed that Brooks, like myself, plays a Godin guitar. Godin guitars are really great (no, I’m not promoted to say that – I just love them).
Brooks Robertson – Skippy (by his mentor Buster B. Jones)
Tommy Emmanuel was the emcee and musical corrector of the show and would periodically introduce the various acts. Next up I believe was Pat Kirtley, which surprised me, as I already owned his DVD on How to Play like Chet! He has 2 DVDs on how to play like Chet, but I have not finished with the first one yet. It is very involved, fancy picking.
The Fiddler’s Last Waltz – written for Randy the fiddler, performed @ the Factory in Franklin, TN (actually from the Chet Atkins Tribute show)
Muriel Anderson blew me away with her harp guitar antics (21 strings on this angelic behemoth I think). 6 normal guitar strings, deep thick bass strings, and then higher harp-like rippling strings as well. She performed several songs using the harp guitar including “Baker’s Dozen,” “View from Space,” and something else awesome. She also performed the “Liberty Bell March,” of Monty Python fame, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Her version of “NOLA” was also exceptional.Tommy Emmanuel spoke very highly of her and said his eyes bugged out at her playing when he first heard her play.
Tommy Emmanuel dominated a large, powerful chunk of the show with a Chet medley that went on a good nine minutes or so and as I recall ended on a sledgehammer-hard slamming of the strings. He explained how “Smoky Mountain Lullaby” came to be and its importance in regard to Chet’s death. It’s a great story that involves divine providence and, he believes, a heavenly musical conductor.
It was a great honor to shake Tommy Emmanuel’s hand and to get his autograph.
I wonder: If Chet Atkins were alive today, what would Chet Atkins say? He often had a quippy wit about him and a keen sense of humor. What would Chet Atkins do? He would almost assuredly be making beautiful music for me and for you. Thankfully, his memory and his music live on, as he does, in the afterlife.
Thank you to all of you involved in making this tribute possible.