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Tommy Emmanuel and Stephen Bennett Guitar Concert at the Naro Cinema

Event Date: October, 2001 - Norfolk, Virginia

Oct 1, 2001
Kimmy Sophia Brown
Attending the Clarence Benefit Concert for the Naro Cinema Tuesday night, was an unexpected encounter with ecstacy. Tommy Emmanuel, the friend of Chet Atkins (and fellow CGP: Certified Guitar Player); and Stephen Bennett, local guitarist extraordinaire; presented the fortunate audience with a dazzling performance.

The two men came bounding out on the stage exhaling glorious, contagious energy through their handsome, smiling faces, and their unbelievably nimble fingers. They played several pieces together with humor, passion and intensity. A high point of silliness was when Mr. Emmanuel played percussion for Mr. Bennett, using a package of plastic spoons which he slapped and shook at key intervals.

Stephen Bennett took the stage and played acoustic guitar, a 1930 National Steel Slide guitar and his trademark Harp Guitar, which has six additional bass strings. With his ear near the body of the harp guitar, Mr. Bennett gave the impression of a father cradling a newborn baby. He offered an Americana medley, his composition, "Oregon" in which the audience squeaked out feeble ocean sounds at the end, (as he wondered aloud if we were midwesterners), and covered the musical gamut of twanging blues, familiar old standards, and original compositions. His performance was imbued with heart and grace.

After Stephen Bennett took a bow, Tommy Emmanuel was shot from the proverbial cannon onto the stage, his boyish exuberance and freight train fingers slamming out Mason Williams' composition, "Classical Gas". His complex and beautiful compositions were inspired from a wide range of personal experiences. In a rare moment he sang in a clear, true voice the Australian hobo anthem to freedom, "Waltzing Matilda" .

Dead guitar-makers might either roll over in their graves or rise like Lazarus if they witnessed his thorough playing technique. On his tribute to the Aboriginies, "Initiation", he scratched, thumped, plucked, womped, thudded, shook, plinked, scraped, picked and strummed like a man with rubber bones. The guitar seemed like another appendage.

Finally Emmanuel and Bennett played a closing set, including a gorgeous version of the folk song, "The River is Wide" with another fine vocal from Tommy. They concluded with a bang-up tune written for Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The name Emmanuel means "God is With Us", and the name Bennett is a variantof the name, Benedict which means "Blessed". How aptly named. Their music could make terrorists change their minds.

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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