A Happy Accident

In 1993, Tommy Emmanuel released his album "The Journey". I attended one of his concerts in Melbourne early spring 1994 and the title suited me perfectly since I was on my first travel outside Europe. I spent almost six months in Australia that "winter", writing my PhD-thesis while staying at research colleagues at QUT in Brisbane and RMIT in Melbourne. Many trips and albums later, "The Journey" is still my favourite and looking back at that time in my life only brings good memories.

Now, almost 20 years later I find myself at my second Tommy Emmanuel concert, this time in my hometown Göteborg. The setting is the same, with Tommy and all his Maton guitars on stage. The tunes are new and they all tell a story in different ways. Some of them you have to design yourself like the not yet released Blood Brothers. A Beatles medley brings memories. Others like Drivetime, Tommy explains himself. And I'm transferred back to the time when CD players started to become common in cars and to trendy St Kilda, outside Melbourne where I used to play beach volleyball with the local party kids.

Tommy also tells us the story of how he started to play the guitar. He got one for his fourth birthday, born into a very musical family who apparently did not believe much in formal training. Listening to records and the radio, Tommy didn't understand that the base was a separate instrument. Instead he taught himself to play both the melody and the base on the same guitar. He called it a Happy Accident. Throw in that he played the drums in the family band and you get a very special and wonderful way of creating music.

He also reveals a more recent fairy-tale, one that develops in front of our eyes and we become part of it. The Youtube video of local guitar star talent  Gabriella Quevedo had caught his attention and after some Facebook interaction, she was invited to play at his concert after almost no rehearsal time together at all. Oh, she was really good and although she was clearly inspired by Tommy's way of playing it became clear to all of us in the audience that she will develop her own way of playing in time.

Leaving the concert, I realise that in addition to listening to remarkable and beautiful music I have also been taught several important lessons. Like "don't listen to people who say that some things aren't possible, especially if you have already done them" and "always encourage young people and let them shine when you can" and "be true to yourself do what you really love, and don't set fame and money first" and "support local brands if they are really good". 

And, of course, "look for stories to tell in various ways"!

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