Sunday, November 16, 2008

Guitarist Rik Emmett has Set of the Century

Hello World Family,
Falcon here. In these times of changing politics and economic upheaval, it is wonderful when you find opportunities that truly give more than you pay for. Such is the case when seeing live in concert some of the guitar greats of rock, jazz, and folk traditions. All of these categories are complimented by the guitar genius that is Canadian singer/songwriter and guitar man extraordinaire Rik Emmett.

Seriously, this guy is absolutely the mot underrated guitar player in the world. I don't say this lightly. Falcon has seen concerts all over the world by some of the most prolific and talented individuals, and Emmett is one for the record books. His career spans over 4 decades, beginning with his tenure with Triumph in the 1970's (and now again in a recent series of reunion shows), and a solo career that began in 1990 through the present. In that time he has delivered some of the most diverse, articulately creative music of an age, and gets just about zero attention for it.

This man was the teaching editor for Guitar Player magazine back in the 1980's and early 90's. Most of the most talented performers of a generation learned off his chops. He has performed with the greats: Clapton, Morse.and been compared to legends, King, Hendrix, and Wes Montgomery. His influences are celestially varied, which is what makes his music so good. The live show in Pittsburgh at the Rex Theatre on Saturday night was in the stratosphere of memorable performances.

One of the contributors to this superb set was input from the Internet on Concert-goers were able to put in requests in advance, and that made for a set list of stellar offerings spanning from the Triumph days through the most recent releases with co-Troubadour Dave Dunlop. The duo show, with particular attention to intimacy and acoustic verve is a solidly delightful way to enjoy the variety of approaches to pieces Emmett employs throughout the evening. In short, this is an extraordinary opportunity for music fans to see an ace performance of a lifetime for modest money and a priceless show.

Those in the Philadelphia and Annapolis area, you will have a chance next weekend to see Mr. Emmett at Tin Angel and the renovated Ram's Head respectively. I strongly advise that you run out and get tickets immediately. Triumph is doing some reunion shows in the near future, and Pittsburgh fans were delighted to hear that their city was on the list of possible shows. If you are anywhere near these venues and even if you aren't (NYC, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Harrisburg, you are certainly in range), you should take out some time from the holiday rush, grab your friends and family and see this man in concert.

If you are a young guitar player, you simply must see Rik Emmett in concert. The show and set last night was one of the best I had seen in my lifetime, and that is saying something. I have seen many great guitar players in my time: Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Hendrix, B.B, King, Stevie Ray Vaughn (and I am now going to correct a little Pittsburgh history concerning Mr. Vaughn; his first appearance in Pittsburgh was not at The Decade Lounge; it was his second. His first appearance, believe it or not, was as a warm-up act on the "Long Distance Voyager" Tour for none-other than The Moody Blues...yes I said The Moody "Nights in White Satin" Blues". I was there, I saw him play, and when he was booked at The Decade I roamed around the university area for hours waiting to get in line when the doors opened to see him), Randy Rhoads, Eric Clapton (many times), Eric Johnson (both of them), Steve Howe, and so many other legendary performers. Many times, we didn't realize the history that was being created by these gifted souls.

You are put on notice that this is history.

You should see Rik Emmett play live and in an intimate setting now. Triumph shows will draw thousands of fans, and you will not get this kind of look at this monumental artisan at that kind of show. See this one, if you can.

I won't give away too much as far as the set is concerned, and the set in Philly and Annapolis may be different. Why don't you go to the website and ask for your favorites? Who knows? You may get to hear your special tune in a living room like setting that will remain forever in your mind and heart. I will say that there were some surprises in the set. Songs like "Middle Ground" from Absolutely, and "Three Clouds Across the Moon" on Swing Shift ( if I remember correctly, I believe this piece was inspired by the Henri Rousseau painting, "A Carnivale Evening" hanging in the Philadelphia Museum of Art) and a power duo version of "Midsummer's Daydream" that will blow the mind of any home player who has sat around for years trying to get some of those licks down, much less perform the harmonic in tandem with another guitarist! Dave Dunlop keeps up, and takes Rik's attempts at stand-up comedy between songs in stride. So does the audience. Most seemed to be very familiar with Rik's discography, but there were many who were not that commented that this was possibly the best concert of their lives. Yes, it was that good.

For Triumph fans that have to hear their standards, don't worry, they are included. Personally, I liked all the choices, particularly the extremely challenging "El Cuento de Gadjo" from "10 Invitations from the Mistress of Mr. E", a Flamingo-infused drama that rouses the senses with saffron, roses, and a fierce, sensual dance of love and tension, as well as the Triumph fave "Suitcase Blues" that brings up images for any road warrior musician (Johnny Walker red-black or blue, but not green, according to Mr. E).

Hopefully, Rik will continue to do these theatre gigs that allow young people in particular the opportunity to see his shows in these smaller venues. There were two young fans (Zachary and Elliot, I believe) who enjoyed the show immensely. That is something that they will carry forward and remember. It is important to expose young children, tweens, and teens to good music early...and live, whenever possible.

For those of you too far away from these next gigs, check future dates, and buy some music on-line from iTunes or the website shop. After all, journeymen live for the music, but a CD/Album purchase is nice, too.



Anonymous said...

I have seen Rik Emmett play many times with Triumph and many times after that. Either with his band, with Dave Dunlop or by himself, he always give a great performance. I saw him play for the first time in 1982 and the last time in 2006. When I see other guitarists play, I am usually not that impressed when I compare them to Rik, but they are trying.

Great musicians are far and few, so when you have the opportunity to see Rik live, GO FOR IT !!

Nancy said...

I so loved all of your comments about Rik and the concert. I have the great privelege of being Zachary and Elliot's mother! Seeing Rik in concert at the Rex will truly be a life changing experience for them. When my now 9year old started taking guitar when he was 6, I knew that Rik Emmett was a man he needed to study. You are so right that it is so important to expose our children to the best of all of the music genres. Music has the amazing ability to reach and display what goes on in the human heart. I have followed Rik since the 1980's and know he is not your ordinary rock guitarist. You are so right in that he is the most talented, underrated, technically proficient, intellectual and over all inspirational guitar player on the planet. Most importantly he is an awesome human being--husband, father, brother, son, teacher, artist, humanitarian. He is a wonderful role model not only for our children but for all of us. He will inspire you and change even change your life if you let him in. Our family is different in many good ways since we saw him. I truly believe he and his life will be an important significant part of history and someone we should all "Emm-ulate". Rik Emmett is awesome--go see him.
Nancy, Scott, Alyssa, Zachary and Elliot

Mike said...

We made the trip from Buffalo to see Rik and Dave in Pittsburgh. We were not disapointed. If you ever get a chance to see him dont hesitate. The mix of old and new was incredible. I have taken my kids to see him several times and the looks on their faces were priceless. Watching Zachary and Elliots faces light up as they carried on a conversation with Rik was priceless. The fact they worked their request in to the performance shows Riks great ability to interact with his fans. A note to the family above, I have something you should see if only I knew how to get it to you.

Anonymous said...

This is Nancy, Zachary and Elliot's Mom. I so appreciate your comments. I agree Rik is great for kids--He is so versatile and so talented. They can learn alot. You can reach us at