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Fearless boundary breakers; ALAN NICHOL brings you the latest news on the roots music front.


TO MANY world-class musicians, genre boundaries are simply challenges to be negotiated.

After all, music is music and if the practitioner has the technique, then he or she will always transcend genre.

Two guitarists who are completely fearless when it comes to such opportunities are Australian Tommy Emmanuel and Essex-born Martin Taylor.

They are at the Sage's Hall One on March 8 just days after the release of a matchlessly effervescent joint album, The Colonel & The Governor.

Tommy - a true acoustic-electric cross-genre all-rounder - took his inspiration mainly from the fertile country finger-style territory of Merle Travis, Mose Rager and his mentor, Chet Atkins.

Martin Taylor may be from a jazz background, having played alongside the great violinist, Stephane Grappelli, but he has also worked with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and folk artists Martin Simpson and Martin Carthy. Both Tommy and Martin are self-taught former child prodigies, gaining their foundational skills from family members and then by listening to the recordings of others and working tirelessly to improve.

There is not space to recount the awards amassed by the pair, suffice to say that some the very best judges - Atkins, Beck, Les Paul, Clapton, Vai, are some - place them in the highest echelon in the pickers' pantheon.

Tommy is the proud bearer of the Order of Australia and Martin the MBE.

In search of an insight into the new album, I spoke to Tommy this week while he was preparing for a solo show in the current chill of Arizona. "It's cold as a mother-in-law's kiss," he says in typical wise-cracking style, while Martin was with the International Guitar Night tour in Michigan.

The 14 tracks include some popular songs and some original material.

Tommy explained to me the creative process: "During periods of heavy touring, we would send each other emails with song suggestions and mp3s of some of Martin's rare recordings of some of the older guys like Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, Carl Kress and Charlie Christian. We also wanted to have some original songs on the album and Martin's songs suited so well.

"It was fun and challenging to record and make. It's honest and in-your-face playing. Martin had so many good ideas for songs and by the time he came to stay at my house he had stuff mapped out. So, when went over stuff like Bernie's Tune etc they just felt so right."

"In the studio, we played facing each other - he was separate, behind glass and everything was done with headphones/microphones. We wanted that spontaneity, like we had just walked-in with guitars and played."

The pair will play respective solo spots and then combine for what is sure to be an incendiary finale.


TWO OF A KIND Guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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