The most recent issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine features Andy McKee, the acoustic guitarist turned viral web phenomenon, as its centerfold. (His shaved head, beard, and thick set may seem unusual for a centerfold, but AG doesn’t discriminate.) In the interview, McKee shares the story of his journey from metal (he still looks the part) to acoustic music, the people who turned him on to the percussive style – notably Preston Reed, some techniques he uses, and his bedroom transformation from total anonymity to massive global fame.
McKee is not my cup of tea, though I don’t quite agree with the borderline-obnoxious – but not completely wrong-headed – commenter who wrote that “this guy lived with his mom in the basement until he was like 35 or 40…not kidding…wouldnt it be nice if we all had that much time to devote to hobbies like this”. (Actually he is 31, and I’m guessing he’s moved out of his mom’s basement by now.) My problem with McKee’s music is that often I can’t find a melody. In fact, I think there often isn’t one. His percussive playing, which is definitely impressive, doesn’t excuse that in my mind.
But how can any acoustic guitar site – particularly one interested in mining the diamonds from the YouTube rough – not feature Andy McKee? After all, the guy single-handedly legitimized internet fame for musicians. His song “Drifting” has registered nearly 35 million hits. 35 million. That’s near most on YouTube. So here he is. Watch him once, but unless you plan to devote yourself to his style, you’re better off spending your time studying, say, Pat Metheny or Neil Young.