I went to my first Tommy Emmanuel concert about 11 years ago. It was a small venue in East Grinstead that held about 300 people and we were on the front row. A friend had told me about him but I’d not really explored much of his music at the time.

I’d just heard he was an amazing guitar player so I thought I’d check him out.

The lights went down and this smiling man ran onto the stage. His energy was high, he began to play, he looked like he was having the time of his life. There was no band, just him and his guitar. I’d just recorded Herne’s Apprentice and was finding my feet as a solo live performer. As I watched Tommy I found myself looking into a mirror. He’s obviously a much better guitar player than me but there was something about him that resonated inside me.

I later found out he is also a Gemini (a triple Gemini in fact…) but it was more than that.

I’ve just watched this TED talk given by Tommy and discovered that:

When he writes songs he also hears a whole band playing in his head (I do that when I play live too, even though I always play solo I can hear the band).

He can’t read or write music – neither can I.

He constantly looks for new ideas and ways to improve his live show by engaging the audience more – a constant quest for me.

He replies to fan email, Facebook and Twitter updates, he comes out and signs CDs after shows – some of my favourite things about my work.

I don’t understand why any musician or songwriter wouldn’t do these things but some just don’t. Like Tommy I am one of the very lucky ones who get to play music for a living and I am thankful for that every day.

So when he came bouncing onto the stage the first time I saw him, and I saw that kindred spirit, I was not mistaken.

I haven’t played a gig since 17th November and my first of the year is on the 1st February, and I just cannot wait to get out there and play my music live again.

Bring it on 2014!!