Andy McKee

Andy McKee

Infobox musical artist
Name = Andy McKee

Img_capt = Performing live in February 2008.
Background = solo_singer
Born = 1979 (age 29)
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
Instrument = Guitar, harp guitar
Genre = Folk, fingerstyle, instrumental
Occupation = Guitarist
Years_active = 2001 – present
Label = CandyRat Records
URL = []

Andy McKee (born in 1979 in Topeka, Kansas) is an American fingerstyle guitarist currently signed to the American record label Candyrat Records. His style of playing and his compositions have earned him a considerable fanbase; in late 2006, a live performance of his flagship song "Drifting" became a Featured Video on YouTube and MySpace, achieving over 16,000,000 views on the former to date and remaining one of its highest rated music clips. A handful of McKee's other songs have experienced lesser success on YouTube, such as "Rylynn" and "Africa" both eclipsing 7,000,000 views apiece.

Life and career

McKee played his first guitar, an Aria nylon string bought by his father, at age 13. Initially underwhelmed by his guitar lessons, McKee's electric guitar-playing cousin inspired him to continue learning, taking him out for his 16th birthday to see a guitarist named Preston Reed perform live at a clinic. McKee bought an instructional videotape from Reed and began to learn more complex guitar techniques from it, also earning his GED that year in order to drop out of high school. He began to take influence from guitarists such as Michael Hedges, Don Ross, Billy McLaughlin, Pat Kirtley, and Tommy Emmanuel as he self-studied the instrument.

Nocturne (2001)

In 2001, McKee independently released his first album, "Nocturne". That same year, he placed third at the National Fingerstyle Guitar Competition in Winfield, Kansas, the youngest competitor to place so highly. [ [ "Instrument Contest Winner Archives - Andy McKee", Winfield Valley Festival website.] Accessed on January 17, 2008.] In 2003, McKee toured in Taiwan with Jacques Stotzem, Isato Nakagawa, and Masaaki Kishibe, and earned first place in the "Miscellaneous Acoustic Instrument contest" of the "Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships" with a Ron Spillers harpguitar he purchased from Stephen Bennett in 2002. [ [ "2003 Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships - Contest Results".] Accessed on January 17, 2008.] , [ Biography at McKee's website.] Accessed on January 17, 2008.] The instrument can be seen in a number of his songs, such as "Into The Ocean" and "Gates of Gnomeria".

Dreamcatcher (2004)

McKee released his second album, "Dreamcatcher", in 2004. The album includes his cover of "Africa" , as well as "The Friend I Never Met", a song written in tribute to the late Michael Hedges. McKee used the title track to win the opportunity to perform with bassist Michael Manring, whom he has toured with multiple times since. Additionally, he placed second in the "Fingerstyle Guitar Competition" of the "Canadian Guitar Festival" that year [ [ "Andy McKee - Biography", The Canadian Guitar Festival website.] Accessed on January 17, 2008] . The album was later re-released by McKee's label in response to the popularity he garnered on YouTube.

Art of Motion (2005)

McKee's third CD, "Art of Motion", was released on Candyrat Records in November 2005 and earned considerable praise from established acoustic guitarists such as Don Ross, whom McKee is currently on the same label with and has noted as one of his favorite artists. Most of the songs that McKee is known for on YouTube appear on the album, which has a handful of tracks carried over from "Dreamcatcher" as well. During the early stages of McKee's success on YouTube in late 2006 and early 2007, "Art of Motion" was the only album of his carried by Candyrat Records, and saw the most mainstream exposure as a result.

Gates of Gnomeria (2007)

After his popularity due to his performances on YouTube and touring extensively throughout much of 2007, McKee returned to the studio to record his fourth CD, "Gates of Gnomeria". The album contains six new songs, one of which had already been seen on YouTube ("Gates of Gnomeria"), as well as two cover songs. McKee is currently still on tour throughout the world, performing with other Candyrat artists and promoting the new album. He recently released a split DVD with labelmate Antoine Dufour, each artist contributing eight songs to the disc; two of McKee's are from "Gates of Gnomeria". In early 2008, he released a collaborative album with Don Ross entitled "The Thing That Came From Somewhere". The CD features two tracks from McKee's song library ("Rylynn" and "Ebon Coast") reworked for dual guitars, as well as two solo performances done on baritone guitar ("Dreamcatcher" and "Ouray").

Current activities

Self-described as "just this guy from Topeka, Kansas who kind of blew up on the Internet about a week before Christmas", McKee became one of Candyrat records' bestselling artists after the video of "Drifting" was massively upvoted by users at Digg. [ [ "Amazing finger style guitarist Andy Mckee proves why you suck", Digg website] ] Since then he has appeared by invitation on Woodsongs as well as Last Call with Carson Daly, and his online store completely sold out of his various guitar tablature books. Due to risen demand, sheet music for nearly all of his songs is now available to purchase and download from Candyrat's webstore. He has also contributed to Josh Groban's 2007 Christmas album, "Noël", playing guitar on the song "Little Drummer Boy". Groban's album went on to become the best-selling CD of 2007 in the U.S. [Geoff Mayfield, [ "Groban's 'Noel' Makes Chart History"] ,, December 18, 2007.] , hitting #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. [ [ "Artist Chart History - Josh Groban", Billboard Magazine.] Accessed on January 19, 2008]

Response to filesharing

McKee has, in the past, personally commented on BitTorrent websites hosting his music, chastising downloaders for their actions. Posting to The Pirate Bay under the name "AlteredTuning" (which is the same handle he uses in all his internet message board appearances as well as on his own website's message boards), McKee sarcastically echoed other commenters' thanks to the original uploader of his album and urged people to purchase his work legitimately.

Equipment and influences

McKee currently uses the following equipment:Fact|date=October 2008

* Andrew White Guitars
* Avalon Guitars
* Lance McCollum Guitars
* Ron Spillers Harp Guitars
* Sunrise Pickups
* K&K Sound Pickups
* Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb
* Dean Markley Strings
* Shubb Capos

McKee's influences include: Michael Hedges, Don Ross, Preston Reed, Billy McLaughlin, Björk, Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather, Imogen Heap, Metallica, Joe Satriani, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Steve Erquiaga, Vince Di Cola, Toto, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Primus, Pat Metheny, and Dream Theater

McKee began listening to metal, such as Dream Theater, at the age of 13. He described on Woodsongs how he was a "metal freak" during childhood, even performing a Metallica song in his high school talent show. It wasn't until he saw Preston Reed that his influences began to shift towards acoustic songwriters such as Don Ross and Michael Hedges. Both walks of music continue to influence him, though he has stuck with acoustic music in his professional life.

In response to certain comments regarding the source of his creative talent, McKee has proudly admitted to have never taken any recreational drugs in his life—a fact lauded by many of his fans online, including fellow guitarist Don Ross. Commenting on McKee's MySpace, Ross wrote:

:I too have never touched weed, pills, blow or needles. I'm always insulted when people find that hard to believe. 'How can you write such insane music straight?!?' Frick! Some of us are just creative using only the chemicals already present in our bodies. That goes for almost any musician I've had a close association with, contrary to the stereotypes. Hell, Zappa was sober all the time!:Bravo, Andy. I appreciate the fact that when you and I tour together, there's no junk going around, no smokes, no nothing. Keeping it clean. And we always have a fabulous time.



External links

* [ McKee's Personal Website]
* [ Andy McKee's MySpace]
* [ McKee @ Candyrat Records]
* [ Interview @ InstruMentalCase]
* [ Bio of Andy McKee in German]
* [ Profile from]

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