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Unique slide guitarist takes stage at the Monkey Barrel
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John Emil takes guitar playing personally.

Originally a fan of the acoustic guitar and dobro, Emil discovered his own unique style simply by hearing another man's slide guitar.

Emil, who will bring his dobro and acoustic Hawaiian lap steel style to the Monkey Barrel on Saturday night, was inspired when he found out about the slide guitar style used by Kelly Joe Phelps, a nationally recognized "tunesmith" who plays in the style of lap steel guitar, only on a jumbo acoustic.

"When I heard his playing I was just floored by it, and I found out he was playing lap steel style but on a jumbo acoustic guitar," Emil said. "He had what's like a regular Gibson guitar set up for a lap style."

While he couldn't find the specific kind of guitar, Emil did find a copy of a 1920s Weissenborn guitar. So, he began retooling his playing, holding the instrument like a regular guitar, playing it with a slide and infusing its sound with notes from the Mississippi Delta, bluegrass and the lush landscapes of Hawaii.

Emil moved up to Atlanta from South Florida, where he had already made a name for himself among folk and guitar festivals. He also does some session work for a company based in London called KPM, which does music for films, commercials and background music.

"Sometimes they send me little clips and they want me to play slide guitar over it," he said.

As for Saturday, Emil said music fans can expect "some fantastic slide guitar playing."

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