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Rik Emmett excited to bring solo band to Lethbridge Music Festival

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While Toronto  musician Rik Emmett  is best known as the guitar and the voice behind  ’70s and ’80s rock icons Triumph, guitarist places about third on the list of adjectives he uses to describe his musical skills.Rik Emmett and his band play Lethbridge this weekend. Photo by Doug Lewis
Emmett is excited to play his many solo hits and Triumph hits at the Lethbridge Music Festival, at Spitz Stadium, July 23.

“I always considered myself a songwriter first then a singer then a guitarist,” said Emmett, who brings his solo band of guitarist Dave Dunlop, drummer Paul Delong and bassist Steve Skingley to Lethbridge to play the festival.

 Triumph had numerous hits in the ’70s and ’80s including “ Hold On,” “Fight The Good Fight,” “Lay It On The Line” and “Magic Power” to name a few.
 Since leaving Triumph in 1988, he released two popular power pop style solo albums including “ Absolutely,” which featured the  hits “ Saved By Love” and “ Big Lie”  and “ When A Heart Breaks.” After that another popular solo CD “Ipso Facto”  featured the  hits “ Bang On” and “ Out of the Blue.”

Since then, he took an about face to release a variety of CDs showcasing his love for jazz, fusion, swing and classical music.
“I had to get all of that out of my system,” said the loquacious Emmett, who also teaches songwriting and Music Business Directed Studies with the Humber College jazz program.

 He is currently working on a new solo CD, which goes back to his rock and roll roots and features a variety of special guests including Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson as well as his former  band mates in Triumph — drummer Gil Moore and bassist / keyboardist Mike Levine.

“There are a lot of rumours around on the internet that they are on two or  three tracks, but they are only on one of them,” Emmett said.
 “There was a lot of bad blood there and negativity when I left. A lot of people never realized Triumph was a band with two singers — me and Gil. That was the band’s identity. In my solo shows I play the songs I like to play, which are usually the ones that I sing,” he said.

The trio reconciled in 2007 with the help of a persistent music promoter who runs Canadian Music Week and played a couple of shows with them as they were inducted into  the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

“He helped us rekindle our friendship and our relationship. We played a couple of shows with Gil,  But he said that was enough for him,” Emmett said, adding he is glad to be friends with them again and recorded the new CD is Moore’s studio Metalworks.
“We‘re really good friends now. There’s no issues,” he said.

He noted he wants people to focus on the music.
“A lot of guys get into the music business  to be in show business, but I didn’t want to be in show business, I wanted to be in the music business. Eric Clapton is my role model, he just wants to be on stage and play guitar,” he said. Intricate finger picking has always an integral part of Triumph’s sound and Emmett’s style.


“When I was 11 or 12 I got Segovia’s ‘the Guitar Album’ and Julian Bream’s ‘The Lute Suites,’” he said, adding they were as just as much of an influence as the rock and roll of the day. Being able to play  a variety of styles of music was always important to him.

“The first shows I played were Jewish Bar Mitzvahs and weddings,” he said adding the burgeoning progressive rock scene also captured his imagination.
“I always wanted to be a well rounded musician,” he said.

“ There was a progressive rock scene starting with bands like Yes and King Crimson, but it never really caught on,” he observed.
“I wanted to try a lot of different things like 12 string guitar, jazz or blues. I’ve always taken a magpie approach to things. If I see something shiny, I want to collect it,” he said, noting his audiences have stuck with him through his many evolutions.
“It’s amazing. A  lot of people want to hear  the hits, but I just have a small loyal band of followers who like Rik Emmett’s evolutions,” he said.

 He noted a few of his students at Humber College who know who he is from Triumph.

“Some of them know. They‘ll come up and say I saw a video of you in spandex. So some of them know the music, and then they’ll turn the others onto the music,” he said.
“I feel incredibly lucky,” he said.
Emmett is also a big baseball fan.
“ I love baseball. I love watching the games on TV and going to them,” he said.
He noted the last time he was in Southern Alberta, he was  playing an acoustic show with Oscar Lopez and Pavlo.

 Rik Emmett plays the Lethbridge Music Festival at 7:30 p.m., July 23 at Spitz Stadium

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 July 2016 10:15 )  
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