Guitar Virtuoso

When I was younger I learned to play guitar. I was never very good at it, but the years of lessons and practice gave me an appreciation for, and some ability to recognize, good guitar playing. Some of my favorites that I've gone to see are Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, and Eric Johnson. Other very talented guitarists I've seen include Steve Vai, and Adreian Legg. However, the most versatile of all (let's face it, Joe Satriani is talented but from first album to last, there isn't much variety), most "down to earth," most enjoyable to see live, and most melodic, is Rik Emmet.

Rik Emmett's style varies from arena rock, to hard rock, to pop, to jazz, to blues, to classical, and almost all of these can be touched upon in a single song. He will often play things that defy categorization, being a cross of all of the above. From my teen years I was always mezmorized by his amazing hand-work. Who is Rik Emmett? Why more people have not heard of him, to me, is a wonder. When a teenager in the late 70's and early 80's, I didn't often make much distinction between cheesy "hair band" arena rock and some of the more quality music, but there was always something a little more than the former in the Canadian power trio, Triumph's, music. It's now rather apparent that that difference was the influence of their guitarist/lead vocalist and (often) lyricist, Rik Emmett. Each album from the beginning included a guitar instrumental short that are the most enduring songs (to me) on those old records. That, and the optimism infused in the lyrics of the few songs that have survived that period mark Triumph for distinction among so many others of the same time. That said, since Rik Emmett launched his solo career in the early 90's he has only progressed in his ability, even if not in his popularity.

For any guitar players that are interested, "Handiwork" is a MUST.

Click on pictures to enlarge all photos that follow

A few years ago I did a quick search on the web to see what had become of him. In finding his website and poking around I found that he was
The stage
scheduled to play in the Philadelphia area. For reasons not sufficient to form a reasonable excuse, I missed this show, but signed up for his email newsletter and a year latter he was scheduled to return to the area. I was blown away by that show and proceeded to buy many of his newer albums. Another year passed and he was scheduled to return to "The Point" in Bryn Mawr PA on November 13th. I bought tickets for both of his shows (he played two sets) that evening for myslef and my wife, got there when the doors opened, and sat right in front of the stage.

"The Point" and our "reserved" seats (with my name spelled incorrectly)
The venue is an unbelievable place to see a show like this. It's just a small coffee house that only holds about 100 or 150 people. To see a favorite of mine who in his past sold out stadiums in such a venue was a great experience.

Our WMGK host
Apparently his trip to PA was not originally scheduled and due to a cancellation and simultaneous requests from WMGK, a local radio station (102.9 in the Philadelphia area), he ended up coming. This time however, he just grabbed a single acoustic guitar, got on a plane, and came to play. No band, no warm up, not even a planned set list.
Taking the stage
A representative of the radio station introduced him and he opened by playing a few planned songs, and then threw open the floor to requests.

As a courtesy to Mr. Emmett I tried not to use the flash on my camera. As a result I ended up taking about 90 pictures while only a few of them came out. In a few cases I used the flash by accident since it comes on by default when the camera is first turned on. Because many of the pictures were taken with no flash, there are a few that highlight the motion.

His show was amazing in that he played almost everything that was asked of him. Some of the songs he played he hadn't played in ten years; and the fact that he had forgotten some of the song, but tried anyway, added to the intimacy of the evening. From his great classical guitar cuts on the earliest Triumph albums to his latest amazing "Handiwork" to even acoustic versions of his arena rock classics, the show was first rate.

The show was enjoyable not just for the fantastic guitar but Mr. Emmett is simply a great all around entertainer. He interspersed his songs with stories and anecdotes. My wife and I enjoyed the show so much that we decided to catch him again in New Hampshire in January. We both love B&Bs (and plan to own one one day) and we decided to use the opportunity for a weekend escape. We'll be staying at a B&B in the Concord area and seeing the show as part of a "meet and greet" type of package.

Left: Rik joking around after tiring himself out singing his old classic "Fight the Good Fight". Right: closing the show.