Don Wishon

Concert review: Rik Emmett at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas (June 27)
by Ron Dempesmeier

The timing was fortuitous for a great little acoustic concert by rock guitar icon Rik Emmett in the intimate confines of Poor David’s Pub. Emmett came to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to participate in a Concert in the Garden with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on June 26. Before heading back to Toronto, he was able to work in an afternoon gig with borrowed guitars (his FWSO instruments were electric, too loud for the venue and packed away). The promoter, DW Promotions (aka Don Wishon), managed to find some excellent instruments among some local musicians and has proven to be quite adept at guerilla-style concerts of high quality like this.


“Emmett is a guitarist’s guitarist, and his ability in his acoustic set shined brightly.”


Emmett will always be primarily known as the lead guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the legendary Canadian power trio Triumph. But as his many years in that band and in his now longer solo career, Emmett has shown his love of blues, classical, jazz, flamenco and swing. He is a guitarist’s guitarist, and his ability with the songs in his acoustic sets shone through.

“Middle Ground” was a soaring medium tempo song that showed Emmett’s fine tenor was still capable of hitting those high notes. “Petite Etude” was the first acoustic showcase of his classical style and one that he jokingly said had been too long since he last played as he started again and played the intricate number beautifully. “Lay it on the Line” was played on the 12-string acoustic to give it a heartier feel since it was one of Triumph’s hard rock anthems.

Emmett introduced the next two swing-based songs as his tribute to Lonnie Johnson (a 1920/’30s jazz guitarist) who had an instrumental called “Woke Up This Morning with Blues in My Fingers.” Emmett thought was a great title and one for which he thought he could create lyrics. Another classically influenced showpiece was “Midsummer’s Daydream” from the Thunder Seven album by Triumph.

Emmett had a lot of stories and jokes to tell between songs. He shared that he wrote “Way Back Home” for his two daughters as they headed off to college, one was written about a street musician he had seen busking for “Spare Change,” and that he was inspired by the thought of the thousands of prayers that went to the ceiling of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral for the song “Secret Wishes.”

Emmett played a lovely rendition of Paul McCartney’s classic “Blackbird.” He referred to how many other classics the Beatle had written and that McCartney was still going strong at 69. Emmett jokingly said, “It just isn’t fair!”

Emmett ended the show with a pair of Triumph classics. “Magic Power” was another uplifting song concerning the amazing properties of music and how it makes one feel young, wild and free. Finally, he played “Suitcase Blues,” which was his first foray into a jazzier vein that his somewhat flabbergasted band mates let him put on the Just a Game album in 1979. He thanked the guys for letting him discover a side that let him keep playing long after the spandex, pyrotechnics and blinding light shows of youth faded away. It was a great ending to an intimate afternoon show.

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Poor David’s Pub
Dallas, Texas
Nov. 20, 2009
Reviewed by: PJK

Andy Schmidt from Stir played for about 45 minutes and I was duly impressed. I would describe his style of music as Grey’s Anatomy or Ghost Whisperer type music. You know the type where some slow, pensive and melodic music ends the show. His music was somewhat simplistic and predictable but he was passionate and has a pretty darn good voice. Great job by Don to use him as an opener.

Then the Troubs hit the stage not more than 15 minutes after Andy and you could immediately tell a dynamic shift in momentum. They started with Middle Ground and continued on for 2 sets! They actually got finished around 11:15 I believe. Rik was very entertaining in his story telling and the crowd was VERY supportive! The Troubs played their typical set list which included new stuff off the Push Pull album and of course there was the obligatory Triumph material which included, Magic Power (which he dedicated to the troops fighting in Afghanistan) Ordinary Man, Lay It on the Line, Suitcase Blues and Hold On.


“All I have to say is what an AWESOME show (but does that really surprise you?)!”
~ PJK ~


I have to admit, I am thoroughly impressed with Dave Dunlop! He’s a terrific guitarist and compliments Rik both musically and on stage, very nicely! He also seems like a down to earth type of individual. He signed his autograph to my wife as “the other guy”. This guy can shred, and on a classical guitar no less! It’s easy to understand why he was part of the Triumph reunion, he and Rik must be soul mates.

Don Wishon was our promoter for this event and he deserves 2 thumbs up along with a keg of beer, a few shots and any other party material you can think of along with hugs, a massage, affirmation and a good old fashioned pat on the back! He did a GREAT job in organizing this event! We arrived about 15 minutes late for Andy Schmidt but true to his word, our table was waiting, dead center, second row back, can’t beat that! He worked his butt off and I cannot help but think that Rik, Dave and Spud would not want to work with Don in the future. Don is exactly what Rik (et al) wants in a promoter! My hats off to you Don!

Feel good moment for Triumph fans:

Rik dedicated Suitcase Blues to one individual but also to Gil and Mike. He mentioned a little bit about the bad blood that existed for years (although he didn’t go into details) but he also mentioned that he is excited about the reconciliation along with the fact that that they have become friends again.

The story goes that when he presented Gil and Mike with Suitcase Blues for the JAG album that they didn’t understand how this Jazz song could be on a rock album. Gil and Mike also understood ‘how that song COULD NOT be on the album so the said ‘go for it’. Because of that decision Rik credited Mike and Gil for the solo career that he has today because that allowed Rik to show off his diversity! (Put a smile to my face!)

All in all a great show by the Troubs!

Rik keeps ‘the fire burning’ for all Triumph fans so if you have the chance, go see him! He will not only impress, but he he will satisfy that proverbial Triumph itch… at least for a little while…

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