Sunday, January 8, 2012

Opening Act - Andy McKee - 1/7/12

The Colonial Theater
My Christmas present from Dave and his family was tickets for Dave and I to go see Eric Johnson at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville last night. I love live music, I have always liked Eric Johnson, and the opportunity to see anyone good in a small venue is a treat.

I work right down the street from the venue, and have driven past it hundreds of times, but have never been inside. Having looked at the website linked above, I knew that it is a 658 seat old style movie house, from back in the days when the town movie theater was the only game in town. They tend to be beautiful ornate old buildings (although generally in various states of shabbiness). When we got inside and make our way to our 8th row seats, this proved to be no exception. It was pretty well maintained, and seemed smaller than I would have expected for the seating capacity. There was a small stage with a drum kits, some mikes and some amps, and that's about it. We were perhaps 30 feet from the stage front. (I also picked up an autographed CD/DVD combo of EJ's legendary 1984 Austin City Limits concert on the way through the lobby...he was 29 then, and is 57 now).

As it turned out, Lori bought a single ticket at the last minute and went with us, but would be sitting by herself. She had a seat next to the mixing board at the very back of the floor, but when she went to sit down, and usher told her that they should not have sold that seat to anyone and put her in the front row of the balcony instead (a much better seat).

Opening Act - Andy McKee
I hadn't realized that there was an opening act until Dave had sent me a message earlier in the day, but he knew of the guy, Andy McKee, and had done some YouTube searching to see him. He told me I had to see it to believe it, and he was right. McKee plays what he terms "percussive guitar", meaning that he both plays the acoustic guitar but also uses the body of the guitar as a drum.

Wikipedia calls him a fingerstyle guitarist. He plays with an amazing combination of strumming, plucking, finger tapping, hammering on with the left hand only while the right hand is doing something else entirely, and probably a bunch of techniques I can't even describe. He played about 8 songs in a 40 minute set, and Dave and I were flabbergasted by the end of it. I swear he had a third hand somewhere that we couldn't see. It truly was wizardry. I am a fan. A big fan. He was funny, engaging, and talented in a style of playing that I can honestly say I had never seen before. What a treat.

Check out his biggest YouTube hit "Drifting" here, and another song that I absolutely love, "Rylynn", both of which he played last night.

As an aside, he also played a guitar the likes of which I had never seen. The frets weren't perpendicular to the neck, but fanned out from the middle; the center fret bars were upright, but those nearer the neck leaned toward the neck, and those nearer the body leaned toward the body. He also re-tuned his guitar to all sorts of crazy tunings between each song while bantering with the audience. That's harder to do quickly than it looks.

Next... The Main Event

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