Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel live at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center on Jan. 22

Guitarist Gareth Pearson will open for Emmanuel, who is considered one of the world’s greatest guitarists.

Tommy Emmanuel1203643360058485.xGcjmsxeqnqtRTaAYaWe height640Gareth Pearson and Tommy Emmanuel, one of the “planet’s greatest guitarists,” will perform Sunday, Jan. 22, presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

Guitarist Gareth Pearson will be the opening artist for Emmanuel. Tickets to the 6 p.m. performance are $49. Call 205-975-2787 or visit

Talk to Emmanuel’s fans and they will speak of his extraordinary guitar playing. He is considered by those in the know to be among this planet’s greatest guitarists, according to his bio, and his playing is simply miraculous, as it would take three musicians, or more, to do what Emmanuel does solo. When playing “Day Tripper,” for example, only he can lay down the rhythm, dig into the riff and sing the melody all at once on just one acoustic guitar.

They will also speak of his joy, without which the first might not be as powerful or as infectiously appealing. It is one thing to play these multi-dimensional arrangements flawlessly on an acoustic guitar, but to do it with that smile — that evidence of authentic, unbridled delight —is an irresistible invitation to feel his music as deeply as he does.  

“The joy,” he said, “is there always because I’m chasing it through music. Seeing the surprise in peoples’ eyes is worth living and working for … I can’t help but play to the people with all my heart, which is overflowing with joy of being in that moment that I’ve worked all my life for.”

His own songs are also illuminated with lyrical melodies that go right to the heart, such as his ode to his daughter, “Angelina,” or his “story without words,” “Lewis & Clark.” That they resonate so deeply without words makes sense, as words go only so far. But music, coming from a genuine and joyful source, can go so much further. Now with “The Best of Tommysongs,” he brings audiences a complete collection of his own songs, all rich with ripe melodicism and rendered with joy in real time. 

Pearson is referred to as “The Welsh Tornado” for his combination of fingerstyle pyrotechnics with explosive lead runs. Pearson has a distinctive style that can be heard through his creative and innovative arrangements, which cover a wide spectrum of genres, including country, folk, classical, pop, rock, jazz, swing and bluegrass music, along with his own beautiful and often intricate original compositions.