fans around the world
ndy’s care for his fans extends beyond his time on stage. I guess it is in my personality to be approachable and friendly. I don’t have a problem with hanging out after a show for an hour or more to meet any fan that wants to say hello or have a picture or whatever. In fact, it’s possibly my favorite part of the night. I get to hear a lot of great stories. Andy’s propulsion to musical heights began in 2005. I had joined an independent record label based in Milwaukee called Candyrat Records that was focused on the sort of music I do, instrumental acoustic guitar. They heard about me through a recommendation from Don Ross. In the fall of 2006, I was fortunate to be touring with Don, and we ended up in Milwaukee with a day off so Rob, the guy that runs the label, put the idea out that we should shoot some videos for YouTube and try to get some more fans. It would be like free promotion, he said. I figured why not and so we shot about eight videos that afternoon and then went on our way and finished the tour. I remember being back at Steam Music teaching lessons and going on the computer during a break. I went to YouTube and noticed that they had featured my song “Drifting” on the front page. I was totally shocked and called Rob right away. He told me to buckle my seatbelt... Shortly after that, “Drifting” was featured on the front page of Yahoo and I was doing late-night TV and getting offers to start touring at an alarming rate. I decided to stop teaching lessons shortly after that and have been a full-time performing musician since. At last count, Drifting has had close to 50,000,000 hits.
the andy approach to music
t doesn’t take long watching Andy perform to realize he brings a great deal of creativity to his physical approach to playing the guitar: using it as a drum/rhythm accompaniment, playing with his left hand over the top of the neck, or plucking strings with his right hand at the sound hole while tapping them with his left hand on the neck. When asked about creating his unique approach, Andy explains: The change for me occurred after watching a guitarist named Preston Reed perform. He lit the fire. He was in Topeka back in 1995 doing a guitar clinic on behalf of Washburn guitars demonstrating his amazing technique. He completely changed my idea of the acoustic guitar. Shortly after that I became very interested in the music of Michael Hedges, Don Ross, and Billy McLaughlin as well. Those four guys are my biggest influences. Andy’s forte is writing original tunes, but he’s developed some catchy covers of tunes by Toto, Tears for Fears and others as well. When asked how he approaches composing in the context of his penchant for creative tunings, Andy explains: I will start with either creating a new tuning or searching for a new one that I haven’t tried before. From there, I will begin experimenting and discovering either a chord progression or “riff ” that I like the sound of. After some time, I will begin to hear melodic ideas that will work over the progression, and I will then try to find a way to play them at the same time using techniques like tapping or making slight changes to the “riff ”. When arranging a cover tune for solo guitar, I usually try to find a tuning that will work for the key of the song and sometimes I will adjust the tuning while arranging it as to better facilitate playing the song. Andy finds himself in the enviable position of calling more and more of the shots when it comes to his career. I’ve been taking it easy this year on the touring, and I’ve been working on new music as well as family life (The McKees welcomed their second child this fall). I’ll be doing a two-week run in November here in the U.S. followed by some European dates in the first part of 2014 which will include the U.K., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Greece, Israel and more. The nearest gig to Topeka that I have lined up at the moment is in Emporia in January. I hope to have some new music out in November in the form of an E.P. I plan on releasing a few E.P.’s over the next couple of years as opposed to having a single new album. The idea is to have new music out more frequently but in smaller groupings. So many folks these days are buying music digitally and aren’t necessarily interested in a physical album, so we thought we would try this distribution method for a while.
Andy McKee’s “Drifting,” now about to hit 50M views. If you haven’t....you must. Click the QR code for the video or search it on YouTube.
If you get around Topeka for some of its many fine acoustic acts, you just might run into Andy, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll catch him play a couple of tunes. If you do, count it as a special event as Andy is one very special Topeka talent who’s going to be making fine, creative music for many years to come. If anyone reading this has aspirations of becoming a musician, start with the right attitude. Keep your mind open and know that all things are possible. Above all, be a kind and honorable person no matter what occurs. aseveneightfive 29
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