Tommy Emmanuel Shows Why He’s a Certified Guitar Player at The Keswick Theatre

Photography by Mike Mauger

How many Certified Guitar Players do you know? Probably not too many, right? Perhaps, you didn’t even know that such a title existed. That’s okay. Don’t let it get you down. The fact is, there are only a handful of Certified Guitar Players, a titled coined by the legendary picker Chet Atkins, in the world. All of them received their title from Atkins himself. Philadelphia was lucky enough to have one of these C.G.P.’s in town on Friday night as Tommy Emmanuel and his fans flooded the little town of Glenside for his performance at the Keswick Theatre.


Side note: I rarely get up to the Keswick, and every time I do I’m reminded of beauty, inside and out, and the wonderful acoustics of the room. It was a perfect setting for a Tommy Emmanuel show.

If you haven’t seen Tommy Emmanuel live yet, I suggest you make plans to do so. It’s tough to put into words the man’s incredible talent. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of his kind of music, Emmanuel displays that kind of elite talent, a mastery over his instrument, that’ll drop your jaw to the ground for the duration of the show.


And, he’s funny. I imagine that it’s hard to tell jokes using no words – just an instrument – but Emmanuel pulls it off throughout his 90+ minute performance. He’ll take the audience from a dead-stunned silence, to howling laughter with one body movement or facial expression, using his guitar as the punch line. He’ll move you without lyrics, through songs like “Blood Brother” (available on his latest album, It’s Never Too Late), and “Angelina.”

He’ll blow your mind with covers like Johnny Cash’s arrangement of “Hurt,” and a raucous medley of tunes from The Beatles, played like you’ve never heard them before.


He spent a solid 10-15 minutes playing a bluegrass inspired finger pick song, and then giving the audience a tutorial, showing us how easy it is. In fact, he said it was our homework. We’re to go home, learn it just like he showed us, and he’s going to check back in with us when he comes back….Okay.

Almost as much fun as watching Emmanuel, himself, is watching the faces on those who haven’t seen him before. Tommy Emmanuel’s show is one for every music lover of every age, and we’re so grateful to have had the Aussie in town this weekend.

Check out all the pictures from the show below!

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1 Comment

  1. Stephanie

    February 15, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Darling Run

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