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Artist of the Month for January 2006 Andy McKee

Name: Andy McKee

Age: 26

Town: Topeka, Kansas

Hometown: Topeka, Kansas

At what age did you start playing guitar and why?
I started playing at age 13. I had just moved back to Kansas from New Mexico and the middle school I attended actually offered a guitar class. So on my 13th birthday that year, my dad got me a guitar.

First guitar:
An Aria nylon string.

Early Influences:
My early influences would have to be Metallica, Iron Maiden, Pantera... a lot of bands like that. After playing for awhile, I heard about Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Then I went with my cousin to go see Preston Reed play on my 16th birthday. He blew my mind! Then I got into Michael Hedges, Don Ross, and Billy McLaughlin.

First gig: Me and a few friends played "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. None of us could sing so it was an instrumetal version... HA!

Acoustic Guitars you own:
Ayers Andy McKee signature guitar, Andrew White Prototype Jumbo, Larrivee LV-05, Guild F47RCE, Ron Spiller's Harpguitar.

Favourite Guitar:
Favorite Guitar: I am extremely comfortable with my Ayers. It plays so well! My Andrew White guitar has an amazing tone and volume.

Your Style, and how you developed it:
Your Style, and how you developed it: My style... I'd say I have been heavily influenced by the modern acoustic guitar masters so I have a similar sound perhaps. But over the last few records, I've really developed my own sound. I like to do interesting things on the guitar. I've never been satisfied with playing G, C, and D so I try to do something interesting sonically with every song I write. At the same time, I have re-learned the importance of communication with music. In the end, that's what it's really all about. Communication. So I think it's good to have a nice melodic idea in my music. Masaaki Kishibe is one of my favorite melodic guitarists. I've had the chance to tour with him a number of times now and he really reminded me of the importance of melody. It's not all about virtuoisty, you really need to say something when you play. So although I am sometimes writing really difficult things, I am trying to always express something to the listener.

Practice Regimen:
8 hours of video games a day. Ha! Ok no really, I am at a time right now where I am not really practicing too much. Usually when I pick up the guitar, I am trying come up with something new. A new song or tuning to play with. I don't really go over my songs or anything like that. My memory keeps 'em pretty well. I probably should practice more though, just to make sure little screw up's don't creep in.

Favorite Artist(s):
My four main influences are Michael Hedges, Don Ross, Preston Reed, and Billy McLaughlin. I also get tremendous inspiration from these people: Stephen Bennett, Masaaki Kishibe, Kotaro Oshio, Isato Nakagawa, Jacques Stotzem, Bjork, The Crash Test Dummies, Dream Theater, Vince DiCola, Tchaikovsky, Eric Johnson, King Crimson, Michael Manring, Victor Wooten, Peter Gabriel and I still enjoy some of the old metal bands I used to listen too...

As you can guess from my earlier joke in the Practice Regimen section, I am a video game addict. I just got an Xbox 360 for Christmas! Woo-hoo! If I am not playing guitar, I am playing video games.
As for my views on today's music in general, I guess I am not really into it too much. Like the stuff on MTV and whatnot. It seems to not really have much depth to it, at least to my ears. But you know, there are a lot of people out there that find it compelling so what do I know. It's cool about Kaki King though, getting on Conan and Letterman. That's really freaking awesome for all of the fingerstyle guitar community. Hopefully more and more people will discover how amazing and expressive one person with one guitar can be! Without vocals even! It may be wishful thinking, but I am a "glass is half full" kind of guy.


Visit Don's website at www.andymckee.com to learn more about Andy and his music.
If you are a guitarist with a cd out and would like to be featured here please contact me.

AOTM Archives:

August 2008 - Danny Combs
March 2006 - Bryan Clark
Februry 2006 - Darin Leong
January 2006 - Andy McKee
December 2005 - Don Alder
November 2005 - Doug Young
October 2005 - Nancy Conescu
August - September 2005 - Warren Greig
July 2005 - Ian Melrose
June 2005 - Roger Lasley
May 2005 - Jim Tozier
April 2005 - Jessica Papkoff
March 2005 - Todd Habekost
February 2005 - Michael Hewett
January 2005 - Steve Barney
December 2004 - Tony McManus
November 2004 - Chris Newman
October 2004 - Kevin Kastning
September 2004 - Rick Duke
August 2004 - El McMeen
June-July 2004 - Charles David Alexander
May 2004 - Tony Capri
April 2004 - Shane Simpson
March 2004 - Bill Cooley
February 2004 - Greg Meckes
January 2004 - Gary Leek
December 2003 - Ernie Hawkins
November 2003 - Keith Knight
October 2003 - Jaquie Gipson
September 2003 - Chuck Durfor
August 2003 - Cathy Horner
July 2003 - Art Edelstein
June 2003 - Muriel Anderson
May 2003 - Clarelynn Rose
March-April 2003 - Steve Wildey
February 2003 - Rick Ruskin
January 2003 - Kerry Kling
December 2002 - Tim O'Brien
November 2002 - Howard Emerson
October 2002 - Dennis Roger Reed
September 2002 - Larry Pattis
August 2002 - Paul Asbell