David Grisman and Tommy Emmanuel

David Grisman and Tommy Emmanuel
Sandler Center for the Arts
Photographer/Writer: Mark Robbins

Dave Grisman can not be pigeon-holed; bluegrass, jazz, folk, composer, producer, session player, leader, the list is endless. Jerry Garcia nicknamed him “Dawg” and what he played was “Dawg Music”. Tommy Emmanuel was given is first guitar at age 4 and by 6 he was playing in the family band, The Emmanuel Quartet. He never learned to read or write music but Chet Atkins designated him a C.G.P. – Certified Guitar Player – one of only 5 musicians to receive that title from Atkins. At home with blues, jazz, folk, Spanish traditional, Emmanuel is at times a one man band playing melody, chords and bass all at once. So, when Grisman and Emmanuel appear together, as they did at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, they are a category 5 hurricane, F5 tornado, and a tropical cyclone let loose on the stage. Playing heavily but not exclusively from their album “Pickin” the pair performed a 2 hour high energy show that no one wanted to end.

Leading off with a exuberant “Zorro’s Last Ride” Grisman showcased his extraordinary mandolin playing. “Cinderella’s Fella” featured both Grisman and Emmanuel and featured Emmanuel’s unique fingerpicking style.

“CGP and Dawg” was written especially for the duo. In jazz parlance “trading fours (or 16s, 8s) means a musician plays a number of bars and another musician replies in kind. In “CGP and Dawg” Dawg and Emmanuel have their own version of “trading fours” trying to out pick each other. Emmanuel uses his thumb to play one line and his fingers to play chords, bass and melodies, he makes the impossible look easy.

The pair had a good time with “Farm & Fun Time” and “Tipsy Gypsy” joking and playing with each other. It was hard for the audience to stay seated once these bouncy beats started.

The rest of the program presented a mixed bag of up tempo numbers and ballads showing off the virtuosity of both men. Of course, no concert with an Australian performer can end without the famous beer drinking song, “Waltzing Matilda”. It was hard to tell which one was playing faster, but it looked like sparks were coming from each instrument.

Opening the show was the dynamic duo of Trey Hensley and Rob Ickes. Ickes has won the Dobro Player of the Year award a record 15 times as well as being an accomplished lap steel guitar player. Once he hit Nashville in the early 90s he became one of the most in demand musicians in town. When trey Hensley was 11 years old he was invited on stage with Marty Stuart and Earl Scruggs at the Grand Ole Opry and he has never looked back. Since teaming up in 2015 the duo has played around the world and judging from their reception at the Sandler Center they are going to be playing together for a long long time.

Set List:
Zorro’s Last Ride, Farm & Fun Time, Watson Blues, CGP and Dawg, Port Townsend Blues, Cinderella’s Fella, One of Those, Dog’s Bounce, Grandpaw, Perpetual Dawg, Shady Grove, Blue Dawg, Wayfaring Stranger, Tipsy Gypsy, EMD, Waltzing Matilda