At long last something good to know on the subject of ticketmaster

‘Guitar Wizard of Oz’ to play at TPAC

Two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel, who the late guitar legend Chet Atkins called “one of the all-time greatest guitarists on the planet,” will perform Sept. 13 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $29.50, plus applicable fees, and on sale in person at the box office of TPAC, 214 S.E. 8th, or through Ticketmaster at (800) 345-3000, and the ticket service’s retail outlets.

The 56-year-old, Australian-born Emmanuel has been playing guitar since age 4, learning the instrument by ear, with no formal instruction, and has never read music. By age 6, he was playing professionally in a family band that toured Australia.

Upon hearing a recording of Atkins’ music as a boy, Emmanuel was riveted by the complexity of the solo guitar work of the American guitarist who would later mentor the young Aussie player as he developed his own fingerpicking style which calls for using all 10 fingers to play bass lines, melody and harmony, as well as incorporating percussion with both fingers and a drummer’s brush on the guitar body.

He got work as a session musician, including recordings by Air Supply, Men at Work and other Australian acts. He joined the Down Under rock band Dragon, recording its platinum-selling album “Dreams of Ordinary Men” and toured with Tina Turner on her “Break Every Rule” tour. As a songwriter, his works have been recorded by Olivia Newton-John, Al Jarreau and Sheena Easton.

However, it is for his solo guitar career that Emmanuel is best known.

IN 1980, Emmanuel traveled to the United States and finally met and played with his hero, Atkins, who mentored the young player. Emmanuel followed in Atkins’ footsteps, applying his guitar skills to a broad repertoire that encompasses not only country and bluegrass, but pop, jazz, blues, gospel, even classical, flamenco, and aboriginal styles.

Emmanuel was named Best Acoustic Guitarist in the 2008 and 2010 readers poll by Guitar Player Magazine, which presented him its Guitar Legend Award in 2009.

Emmanuel’s most recent honor came June 6 in Nashville, where he has lived the past dozen years. At the Country Music Association Global Artist Party, part of the 2011 CMA Music Festival Week, Emmanuel was presented the CMA Global Country Artist Award by fellow Aussie, Keith Urban, a country music superstar and outstanding guitarist in his own right.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement by an artist who has furthered country music’s popularity and brought attention to the format in their foreign-based territory.

“This award means so much to me because I spend 90 percent of the year on the road, travelling around the world playing music,” Emmanuel said. “And I tell people about America because I love this place.

“I choose to live in Nashville because a lot of the roots of the music that I play are right here and in Kentucky. I’ve always seen it as not just my job but my calling to get out there and play music and show the younger generation that it’s cool to be yourself and set your mind on being the best that you can.”

Bill Blankenship can be reached at (785) 295-1284 or

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