Joe Satriani

Last week was a rare treat for me. Two of my favorite guitarists were in town. On Wednesday night my son Danny and I went to see Joe Satriani at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia (actually Upper Darby, but close enough). Satriani’s been a favorite of mine for years; I saw him play the same venue on his “Flying in a Blue Dream” tour in 1989.

Several years ago I was in Florida on vacation with my family and our trip coincided with Joe Satriani’s appearance at “The House Of Blues” in Orlando. Since my wife doesn’t really like him and my kids were too small to go, I passed. I regretted it later; the venue is great (I had seen Kenny Wayne Shepperd there a year or two before that while on a hang gliding trip to Wallaby Ranch). The next year we were in Florida again on vacation and Joe Satriani happened to be playing in Clearwater. This time Danny, at eight years old, went to the show with me.

Danny is tough to read; he rarely gives away what he really thinks about something and this time was no exception. When the show was over I wasn’t sure how to tell if he liked it or not (asking him would have elicited a simple ‘yes’ regardless of whether or not he actually liked it). This time, however, I didn’t need to say anything. He looked up at me as we walked back to the car and asked, “can I get a guitar?”

This past Wednesday, with Danny turning 10 in a few weeks, we went again and Joe didn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact this was, by far, the best show of his that I’ve seen (and I saw the first G3 tour). My biggest complaint of his music has been the narrow range of style within which most of the songs fall. If I don’t mix his music in with that of other musicians, I usually get tired of him in about 20 minutes. But in his latest album he’s somewhat more varied and definitely more refined. I really like the course his latest album is taking and I think it will be his most popular yet.

Rik Emmett

That leaves me with the second guitarist. Rik Emmett has been my favorite guitarist for a number of years now. I wrote a review of a show that my wife and I went to in 2004 (which can be found here). Where Joe Satriani’s range of styles is narrow, Rik Emmett’s is so diverse as to cover everything from jazz to rock, classical to blues. There are some songs that defy classification like most of those on his “Swing Shift” and “Handiwork” albums (“Handiwork” is my personal favorite) being a fusion of different genres. On Saturday he played in the Downingtown High School auditorium. It amazes me whenever such a talent produces such a small turnout; but it didn’t seem to dampen the quality of the music. Rik and Dave Dunlop accompanying him on the guitar put on a fantastic show. My wife and I took the entire family.

Ginger, Mr. Emmett, and me

Some time back, my wife and I had been talking about getting away to a Bed-n-Breakfast for a weekend, when we heard about a special event that was being scheduled around an appearance of Rik Emmett in Concord New Hampshire. We decided it was a perfect opportunity to get away. The event included a “fireside chat” with Rik scheduled for Friday night and the Concord show scheduled for Saturday. It will be one of the most memorable events we’ve attended. Rik sat in the lounge of the Inn and played guitar and answered questions until late in the evening. I took a bunch of pictures and always inteneded to do a page and a writeup but never got to it. So here is a link to the photos I took that weekend.

Finally, I had heard the Joe Satriani is always trying to get Jeff Beck to tour as part of G3. I love Jeff Beck and have seen him a number of times but I’d like to see Joe tour with Rik Emmett. I think an ideal G3 would include Rik Emmett, Joe Satriani and Jeff Beck – although I’m not sure either Joe Satriani or Jeff Beck could handle not getting the top billing … :-)