Guitar giants Tommy Emmanuel, Mike Dawes hit Garde Thursday

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A whole lot of musicians have been called the Greatest Guitarist in the World, which is sort of strange when you think about it. Or maybe not. Subjectivity and myriad styles can make it confusing.

What might be stranger is how many artists who could genuinely lay claim to the title — or at least, more realistically, argue that he or she was ONE of the Greatest Guitarists in the World — are folks most people have never heard of.

Hopefully, you know about Tommy Emmanuel, who performs Thursday at the Garde Arts Center in New London. He's definitely up there as one of the best. Emmanuel is a fingerstyle player — no less than Chet Atkins (speaking of best-ever-ness) sang his praises — whose eight fingers and two thumbs can do musical things that make you think more of Penn & Teller than guitar playing.

Onstage, Emmanuel presents gasp-inducing originals and clever cover arrangements, and he's just as entertaining as a performer. He dances, shares anecdotes, makes what might be called amazing face-squinches — and in general leaves audiences speechless.

Opening the show is Mike Dawes. It's a weird situation because ... is it possible that Dawes is, ah, actually better than Emmanuel?! I mean, really. He's insanely good.

See what I mean? There is no "best." Just a helluva lot of really great ones — er, twos. 

Tommy Emmanuel with Mike Dawes, 8 p.m. Thursday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $35-$55; (860) 444-7373.

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