Tommy Emmanuel, four-time winner of Australia's Best Guitarist Award, has helped bring the art of rock guitar down under to a higher awareness by bringing a sense of jazz improvisation into a mix that also includes blues, country, rock, classical, and Spanish music. After years as a popular sideman and ace songwriter, the two-time ARIA Award winner launched his solo career in 1988 with Up from Down Under. Several releases followed, notably 1993's critically acclaimed The Journey, which hit high on Gavin and Radio & Records NAC airplay charts. He has shown a mastery and affinity for both electric and acoustic axes, and has been singled out by the likes of notable musicians such as Chet Atkins — with whom he recorded The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World in 1997 — and Todd Rundgren, who called him an innovator on the instrument. Only appeared in 2001, followed by 2002's Endless Road (it was finally released in the U.S. three years later), 2005's Live One, and 2006's Happy Hour (with Jim Nichols) and Mystery.
Although Emmanuel took a brief hiatus from the music industry at the end of 2007 for health reasons, that October he recorded all three nights of a residency at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California. These recordings made up Center Stage, an acclaimed double-disc live set released in 2008. Equally well received was 2010's Little by Little, a comeback of sorts in the form of a double studio album featuring a tasteful rendition of Carole King's "Tapestry." Arriving in 2011, All I Want for Christmas nodded in places to John Fahey's classic festive recordings, while 2013's The Colonel & the Governor saw him team up with the equally talented English guitarist Martin Taylor.