Twice a year, every year, I haul my band an hour north to play the Blue Bonnet Cancer Retreat, a very cool 3 day free camp for those fighting or who have fought cancer. They feed ‘em and wine ‘em and dine ‘em and they’re among a group of folks in the same boat. It’s put on by my friend Randy, who’s a Methodist Minister; it is just a wonderful thing, and they love us to pieces every time we play there.
So Randy calls me, confirms the date, and then says “Well, this is awkward, but we have a headliner playing Saturday night who is staying overnight, and he wanted to play one song during communion, and if I know him, he’s gonna want to sit in on all your stuff too; is that OK”
I told him that was fine, no problem, and if they guy wanted back up from us on his cut, fine and if not fine, whatever he wanted to do, and of course he can sit in with us, no problem.”
Randy sounds relieved and says, “Well cool, I’m really glad you’re OK with that. Now, you can’t tell anyone, because if you do, 1000 people are gonna show up here and try to crash this event, but the player I’m talking about is Tommy Emmanuel…”
(Sound of the fur going up on the back of Eben’s neck, combined with jaw hitting the floor)
“Are you shitting me?” I spluttered?
No; Randy has been a fan for along time. Randy had simply emailed Tommy's Manager about the retreat, and the manager told Tommy, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Can I come and hang out for the weekend and meet these people and play some”
HOLY SHIT!!!! I’m gonna play with Tommy Emmanuel!!!!!
And so we did: yes, friends and neighbors, Tommy sat in with the band for our set, and we with him on a couple of tunes. I have now had the pleasure of turning around and saying, "Take one, Tommy"
I'm still on cloud nine, big time...
And yes, I did put an Aerie in his hands and yes, he played it: He tried a Madrone '32 L-0 and said and I quote, "Fantastic!" I said, "No smoke, Tommy, I can take it, how is it really?" He replied, "This is a beautiful guitar, Mate; you got the magic in this one..." And yeah, I got the cheese shot to prove it! As we said our good byes, he gave me a very intense look and said, "Keep doing what you're doing with the guitars; you're doing the right thing." Now I'd call that a direction worth heeding, wouldn't you?
What a wonderful, kind, and unbelievably talented man;
Tommy, it was truly a pleasure I'll never forget, thank you!