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Second to none

F. Scott Fitzgerald's well-worn quote insisting that "there are no second acts in American life" must lose its relevance at the Peace Bridge's "Checkpoint Charlie," for Canadian guitarist and songwriter Rik Emmett's second act has all but eclipsed his first.

Known and loved in the late '70s and '80s as the voice, guitarist and main songwriting force behind platinum-selling hard rock/heavy pop trio Triumph, Emmett brought a serious multi-idiomatic virtuosity to rock radio and the nascent MTV with his songs "Lay It on the Line," "Just a Game," "Fight the Good Fight," "Magic Power" and "Say Goodbye." Simultaneously, he built a worldwide reputation as a smart and versatile guitarist as familiar with jazz chords as he was full-bore, hard-rock solos.

It was natural, then, that upon leaving Triumph, Emmett would embark on a career marked by its refusal to flog any one particular style. Emmett the solo artist has ably recorded classical guitar pieces, jazz-fusion, smooth jazz, orchestral guitar-based pop and the heavy-hitting power-prog that made him famous -- the bulk of it recorded and released independently. Concurrently, he has carried on his work as a guitar teacher, music-business educator and columnist. Not bad for a "second act."

On Saturday, Emmett returns to satisfy the Western New York contingent of his broad audience with a show in Gateway Park, the Tonawandas, as part of the Molson Canal Concert Series. The show begins at 5:30 p.m.; admission is free.

-- Jeff Miers

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