World-class guitarist to pluck for fans at Laxson

Published 2011-02-07T21:25:00Z”/>


Nicole Walker

One man playing a guitar can produce the sound of an orchestra.

The musician behind the auditory illusion is legendary acoustic guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, who will perform through Chico Performances Feb. 9 at Laxson Auditorium with opening artist Jackie Bristow.

Emmanuel isn’t a stranger to Chico, having filmed a live concert at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. It was in Chico that PBS discovered Emmanuel, and he’s collaborated on programs with them ever since.

“Chico has been a wonderful place for me,” he said. “I appreciate the Chico audience and I really built up my professional career there.”

When Emmanuel is on stage, the audience searches for more instruments.

“I play songs that you would want to put words to, so I try to tell stories without words,” he said. “The fans who go to my concerts and are continuously supporting me are the people who make me successful.”

Emmanuel has been playing guitar for as long as he could remember, with his mother purchasing him his first guitar at a young age and giving him lessons, he said. His trademark “finger-picking” style was inspired by country music legend Chet Atkins.

Emmanuel will be playing a two-hour concert after Bristow’s half-hour opening act.

“She has powerful songs and a powerful delivery,” Emmanuel said. “I am glad to have her share the night with me and bring a new face to the audience.”

A singer-songwriter from southern New Zealand, Bristow expressed her mutual appreciation for Emmanuel as an artist and inspiration.

“He is a phenomenal world-class musician,” Bristow said. “One of the best in the world.”

Bristow admires and respects the talent of the musicians she has been honored to play with throughout her music career.

“The biggest dream come true for me is to play with such well-known musicians,” she said.

Compared to Emmanuel, Bristow is fairly new to the music business, but she has been playing her whole life. The inspiration for playing music and writing songs comes from her homeland of New Zealand.

“The thing that sets me apart is using where I am from as an advantage,” she said.

Bristow plays from the heart, which helps her connect with the audience and allows her to tell a story with the lyrics and notes of a song, she said.

Audiences in America are different than audiences down under, she said.

“There’s a lot of history of music in America,” Bristow said. “There is something about America that is a little bit more exciting for some reason. The opportunity, the respect of music and musicians. I love the American audience.”

Emmanuel takes pride in the relationship he’s cultivated with the crowds here in Chico.

“I expect to play for the usual, enthusiastic and spirited audience that I have come to know and love so well in Chico,” Emmanuel said.

Nicole Walker can be reached at

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