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Triumph guitarist still fights the good fight -- but more quietly

of the Oakland Press

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His years in the Canadian rock trio Triumph established Rik Emmett as an electric guitar hero. But these days he’s more apt to be found with an acoustic six-string — both on his own and in the duo Strung-Out Troubadours — and receiving honors such as the 2005 Canadian Smooth Jazz Award for Guitarist of the Year.

“I think everybody’s a folkie at heart,” says Emmett, 57. “When I was a kid in high school and playing assemblies and coffee houses and stuff, I was trying my hand at James Taylor tunes and Paul Simon tunes. The rock ‘n’ roll thing was, ‘OK, I’ve got to try to get everybody’s attention now ... ‘

“In truth I think I enjoy the intimacy of an acoustic show a little bit more than electric — not to say I dislike electric, but it’s a little more involved with lugging out equipment and having to wear earplugs, scream at the top of my lungs ... If I’m doing an acoustic show it gives me a little more range to do a lot of the things that come more naturally to me. And I think it’s easier for a crowd of people to embrace a guy who’s doing a singer-songwriter thing as opposed to growing his hair out and putting the spandex back on.”

Emmett is working toward another Strung-Out Troubadours album with partner Dave Dunlop, but he’s also been immersed in some recent Triumph activity, including a pair of reunion shows and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and a “Greatest Hits Remixed” set that came out in May. But plans for a tour have not come to fruition, and Emmett is happy to go on without that looming as a prospect.

“I think (Triumph shows) would be as much fun as any other kind of a thing,” he explains. “And there are a lot more Triumph fans than there are fans who embrace my independent little folkie thing. I’m not trying to con anybody here; it’s a much smaller and more humble and modest kind of life that I have.

“And I’m not complaining about it at all. Sometimes less is more, and I have a little more freedom now to get to do things now.”

Rik Emmett and Dave Dunlop perform Sunday, Sept. 26, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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