Rik Emmett of Triumph Acoustic Duo at City Winery Nashville

by John Tedeski / 2418 days ago / Comments

On Saturday August 26, 2017, anticipation filled the air as the sold out City Winery Nashville waited patiently, yet excitedly like a kid on Christmas morning waiting to open gifts (at least that is how I felt), for the very long overdue return of Rik Emmett to the stage along with his acoustic partner in crime, Dave Dunlop. As soon as Emmett and Dunlop were introduced the crowd went nuts. Emmett cordially thanked everyone for being there, he then said a few words, introduced the first song and then broke into Triumph classic “Hold On”. The evening was filled with Triumph classics, a few choice selections from a few of Emmett’s solo albums and a beautiful song written and sung by Dunlop taken from his own solo album Monarch Girl.

For those of you who do not know, Emmett rose to stardom in the mid to late 70’s through the mid to late 80’s with his Canadian counterparts, Mike Levine and Gil Moore in the band Triumph. However, what set Emmett apart from most of the other guitarists in rock bands at the time is that he is very well versed in not just rock music but blues, jazz, and classical music as well. Emmett was able to inject his eclectic style into the Triumph song writing process to bring about very unique and memorable songs that catapulted Triumph to being one of the biggest and best live bands out on the road, not to mention the hook laden songs that were more like anthems than just your typical rock songs that were being played on the radio. The songs that Triumph wrote took a positive/optimistic approach and were uplifting and encouraging as opposed to the sex, drugs and rock and roll standards that graced the rock music world, which I believe played a big part in setting Triumph apart from the rest of the pack.

City Winery Nashville got to experience a good portion of that positive Triumph vibe via a stripped down acoustic performance by Emmett and Dunlop. What made this performance special for me, being one of Triumph’s biggest fans ever, was getting to see and hear Emmett live in a small, intimate venue; it was roughly 21 years since I had last seen Emmett perform with Triumph on the last tour the band would take on the road before Emmett left to pursue different musical avenues. It was so refreshing to be in a room full of people who were all there in the moment and fully attentive to everything that Emmett and Dunlop had in store for us. This night was not just a night of stripped down Triumph and Emmett solo songs, it was a night of hearing Emmett recall and share stories with all of us about how different situations unfolded during his years with Triumph, from the writing process of certain songs, how his Triumph bandmates accepted his eclectic style and permitted him to include at least one of those eclectic pieces on each and every Triumph album recorded, to how strange the ’83 US Festival stage set up was. While sharing memories with us that I think we were all curious about, Emmett injected quite a bit of humor into his tales as well allowing us to feel as if we were more than just an audience who was part of paying his salary but people that he actually cares for and truly appreciates.

One thing that really caught my attention more so than the stellar performance given by Emmett at 64 years of age, sounding as though he was still in his 20’s and 30’s was that he allowed Dunlop to shine as a guitar player by gracing him with the duty of playing at least half, if not more, of the guitar leads that Emmett was so famous for; to me that is the true mark of a humble and genuine musician and person; and Dunlop stepped up to the plate and played those leads as if he wrote them himself, I was very impressed. Emmett even gave time in the set to perform a song written by Dunlop off of his own solo album, a beautiful number called “Monarch Girl”.

Emmett and Dunlop complimented each other perfectly both musically and vocally. They both engaged with the crowd, encouraged the crowd to sing along on numerous occasions and even put together a crowd sing-a-long medley which included the songs “Ring of Fire, Drift Away and Rocky Mountain Way” and of course, we the crowd did not disappoint. Would I go see Emmett and Dunlop again? The answer is a resounding yes, and I already have tickets secured for a performance in November. Would I recommend others to go experience the Emmett and Dunlop acoustic show? The answer is again a resounding yes. Hands down, this performance is one of my favorite performances to date and certainly one of the most intimate and memorable.

I would just like to take a moment to say “Thank You” to my Center Stage counterparts Tommy Lemon and Missy Wolf for allowing me to come to Nashville to experience this once in a lifetime performance. I would also like to say “Thank You” to both Emmett and Dunlop for a stellar and fun filled performance and especially Emmett for writing the songs that made up the majority of the soundtrack to my life growing up and still do to this day. I close with these timeless words by Emmett when he sang:

“Hold on, hold on to your dreams. Hold on, even though it seems, everyone around you has their little schemes, listen to your heart and hold on to your dreams.”

Set 1

1. Hold On

2. Petite Etude / Lay It On The Line

3. Libre Animado (Acoustic Piece)

4. Human Race

5. Ordinary Man

6. Monarch Girl

7. Fight The Good Fight

Set 2

1. Somebody’s Out There

2. Red Hot (Guitar Jam)

3. Ring Of Fire / Drift Away / Rocky Mt. Way (Crowd Sing-A-Long)

4. Midsummers Daydream

5. Three Clouds Across The Moon

6. Magic Power

1. Suitcase Blues


Follow Rik Emmett  

About John Tedeski

John Tedeski Journalist

I’ve been a musician since the age of 7 when my parents bought me my first drum set. By the age of 16, I was playing the local bar scene. I’ve played around the east coast, and in 1994, through those travels is how I met Founding member of Center Stage Magazine, Tommy Lemon as we were both auditioning for the same band in the Boston Massachusetts area and we’ve been friends ever since. Through the years I’ve met a lot of great musicians such as Vinny Paul (Pantera), Bill Leverty (Firehouse), Ace Frehley (KISS), Marc Ferrari (Keel), Bobby Dall (Poison), and even got to share the stage with Jaime St. James (Black ‘N Blue) and Billy Morris (Warrant), just to name a few. Unfortunately, life had a different path in store for me other than being a full-time musician, yet I’ve been blessed to still be able to play on the weekends with some great local talent. Here I am now with another huge blessing, still within the music world, but this time as a journalist for Center Stage Magazine where I get to talk with and interview musicians who do what I have always longed to do. It’s all good and much less hassle than having to lug my drums all around the country. Rock Out, Roll On & Follow Your Heart ...