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Rik Emmett continues to triumph as solo artist

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, October 9, 2011

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The Canadian rock group Triumph hasn’t been a going concern since 1993, save for a couple of reunion shows in 2008. But guitarist Rik Emmett acknowledges that the 35th anniversary of the group’s first album — and the 30th of its most popular, “Allied Forces,” does give him some pause.

“You think, ‘Thirty years, 35 years — is that possible?’” says Emmett, 58, who tours as the Strung-Out Troubadours with fellow guitarist Dave Dunlop. “I can’t honestly say that I had the kind of presence of mind or even, say, ego that would let me think about (the music) lasting this long. I think at the time I was thinking, ‘I gotta do whatever works now. ... ’

“But I did always want to try to make music that was genuine. There are songs you make when you’re a rock star and have an arena stage, and it’s a very sugar rush, spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. The songs are about that and the lyrics end up being about that. But you hope somewhere along the way you do something that has a little more to it and you can bring that into the (band) fold as well.”

Emmett — whose son graduated from Central Michigan University this year with a communications degree — is working on an acoustic covers song album, taking on personal favorites such as Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman to Me,” “Message in a Bottle” by the Police and possibly Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Triumph’s “Never Surrender,” which a fan requested for a friend battling cancer, is also under consideration for the album, which Emmett hopes to put out next year.

“It’s cool because you get a chance to revisit these (songs),” Emmett explains, “and think about how you’re going to capture some energy and compensate for the fact there’s no rhythm section driving like crazy from behind. It’s a challenge.

“The model for me is what (Eric) Clapton did with ‘Layla’ on his (1992) ‘Unplugged’ album. You leave out the stuff where you have to try and scream the hook and you’re doing it an octave lower and it’s all laid back. You realize it’s really different than any understanding we had of the song before, but it works, and the audience loves it.”

Rik Emmett performs Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.


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