Acoustic guitarist Tommy loves Christmas music

It was summer in a heat wave in Nashville when he recorded it, but the weather will be just right by the time he gets here.

World-renowned Australian finger-style acoustic guitarist Tommy Emmanuel has just released his first-ever album of holiday music, All I Want For Christmas (Favored Nations Entertainment) - coinciding with his latest UK tour (Hove Centre, Tuesday, December 6; tickets on 0844 847 1515 or www.hovecentre.co.uk)

“I love Christmas music,” Tommy says. “It is just such good feeling music. People have been asking me for years when I was going to make a Christmas album.

“I just put if off and put it off until I could not put if off any more! I was basically writing other kinds of music, but I ended up getting together with a fellow guitar player John Knowles that I have known for 30 years.

“And we started going through Christmas tunes, making lists and checking them twice! Once we got started, the whole thing gathered its own momentum.”

Choice was everything: “They had to be very melodic tunes that I really liked, things like I’ll Be Home For Christmas and Winter Wonderland. I also wrote a song for it myself. Writing a Christmas carol is challenging.

“I wanted it to sound like it had been around for years.”

And that was no mean task when it’s mid-summer in Nashville: “We decorated the studio especially!”

Tommy is delighted to be back in the UK where his eldest and youngest daughters live; the rest of his family are back in Australia; Tommy himself has lived in Nashville for the past ten years. The funny thing is that people think I live there for the music scene. I don’t at all. It is

because it is the most affordable place I can find. But obviously, the music is great. You could listen to music 24 hours a day if you wanted.”

Oddly, given Tommy’s worldwide repute, the UK has always been a bit of a slow-burner for him: “I am getting to play the bigger places here now, but I haven’t even been on TV here yet. It’s just how it goes.

“There is a lot of entertainment in this country. You have just got to find your own spot and build on it.”

A contrast to Croatia. Tommy played a gig, was on TV the next day and then sold out the country’s main arena: “That’s the kind of thing that would have taken five years to do anywhere else!”