Acoustic artists bring power with plucking
Andy McKee is one of many new artists that can owe their success to people watching their music, not just listening to it.
“You may have seen this song on YouTube,” said McKee, an acoustic guitarist. “It kind of launched my career into the stratosphere.”
Both McKee and his opening act, singer Nicholas Barron, gained many of their listeners through people watching their videos online. In an intimate seated event at the Fox Theatre on March 4, the audience was able to see the meticulous acoustic plucking off of a computer screen.
Barron entered the stage first with a wild energy. Though the performance was just a man and his guitar, his enthusiasm brought enough energy to give the allusion of a five-piece band. His throaty voice reminiscent of Colin Hay and Dave Matthews soulfully complemented his complicated acoustic style.
Animal noises and “faux-French” was incorporated into quirky songs. As he hopped and jittered around stage with a contortioned face, Barron said the actions were his way of showing enthusiasm in performing.
“I’m a little hyperactive,” he said. “I’ve got to catch up with my energy sometimes.”
Covers of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” were played, along with Barron’s most watched song on YouTube, “Antidote.”
McKee said he started to play guitar at 13-years-old, and as he strummed his first song it became apparent that his 15 years of practice were put to good use.
Using the finger-style technique to play his guitar, McKee was able to play different notes with each hand and effectively sound like two different instruments playing simultaneously. He also added percussion noises by slapping the base of the guitar.
The magic of McKee’s technique was the emotion and imagination conveyed from purely instrumental songs. The vivid climaxes and tempo changes acted like a soundtrack, telling stories of McKee’s father, places he had visited, and even fantasies he laughed about creating.
“I’m into dorky stuff like ‘Lord of the Rings,’ and I played Dungeons and Dragons once or twice,” he said. “I wanted to write about an underground gnome city, and so I wrote ‘Gates of Gnomeria.'”
Taking advantage of a variety of unusual string instruments, McKee played the baritone guitar and the behemoth harp guitar, which had a large harp element swooping up from the top of a regular guitar. Each added a new narrative element to the soundscapes of McKee’s music, including his songs “Into the Ocean,” “Drifting,” and a cover of Toto’s “Africa.”
After a round of applause and a standing ovation from an otherwise silent audience, McKee returned to the stage with Barron to play “Come Together” by The Beatles.
For information on both artists, visit their label’s Web site at http://www.candyrat.com.
Contact Campus Press Staff Reporter Carolyn Michaels at Carolyn.email@example.com