St. Lawrence Acoustic stage president Sandra Whitworth could hardly contain her excitement.
“Andy McKee is a musician I’ve been trying to bring to the Stage for a very long time,” she said. “He is considered one of the world’s top guitarists. He has millions of Youtube followers and tours extensively. It’s going to be an incredible musical evening.”
Opening for McKee will be South Glengarry sensation, Pamela Cumming, a violinist and vocalist who is garnering a lot of fan and critical interest.
I had an opportunity to talk with Andy McKee about his lifelong, enduring passion for music and his belief that “I am doing what I’m destined to do,” as performs for audiences world wide.
Andy’s connection to music began in early childhood. “No other art forms, no athletics, had the same pull for me. I love the emotional effects of music: music to me is an unique and powerful force.”
Like many kids, he began on a traditional electric guitar, but then he discovered the steel string acoustic guitar.
“I heard guitar players doing incredible, creative things on the acoustic guitar,” Andy laughed. “I fell in love with the finger style approach. When I experiment with different tunings, well, it creates a whole new palette for me to explore.”
He’s played with Tommy Emmanuel, with Prince, with Josh Groban, and enjoys the challenge of presenting well known pieces in new ways: but what he loves best is writing his own music. “I am proud that my career actually took off based on my own original works airing on Youtube,” he said.
For this artist, inspiration comes from many sources.
“I find music in people, in family and friends and in new places. I wrote “Shanghai” when I first saw the city, “Into the Ocean” the first time I saw the Pacific. “Rylynn” was a deeply personal song for me, a melodic tune in memory of a friend’s child.
Instrumental music requires you to dig deep inside yourself, to find a way to get the music out and to share it with others,” he said.
Touring brings him up close with his fans, and that is important to him. “I love talking to people, hearing how my music affects them. Actually,” Andy laughed, “that connection with fans is a kind of addiction.”
He’s bringing his extraordinary harp guitar to Morrisburg. An instrument with six sub base strings along with its regular guitar strings, he is able to sound (as Sandra Whitworth puts it) “like there’s a full orchestra with him.” Andy McKee will be performing some favourite songs, and some new songs from an album he is currently working on, out in late 2017. He is also teaching a sold out workshop while he’s in town.
Pamela Cumming, who will be accompanied on stage by Dylan Groulx, and opens the concert, laughs that it is a challenge to ‘characterize’ her music.
“Well, it’s not really folk, not really pop, I guess it’s a bit of everything. I’m experimenting now with different pedals, octave and looper, with my violin,” she said. “The violin is primarily seen as a melody instrument, so it’s fun to explore a lot of different approaches with it. Music continues to be a love affair for me, in different ways, with my violin: his name, by the way, is “Charlie,’” she added laughing.
Pamela pairs clear, strong vocals with her violin stylings. “The music comes first with me, when I am composing,” she said. “The lyric ideas have to fit my musical ideas.”
She has just released a new EP, We are Pamily, with fellow artist Emily Anderson, and looks forward to performing some of the music from it at the Morrisburg concert.
Tickets for Andy McKee in Concert at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. However, this 7 p.m. concert is nearly sold out. Contact www.st-lawrencestage.com/show.html for ticket availability.