Andy McKee – Joyland

Although he’s only 30 years-old, fingerstyle guitarist Andy McKee fondly recalls the freedom of carefree youthful exuberance on Joyland, his sixth album and debut for the Razor & Tie label that will be released April 6th. McKee produced the ten-song collection of newly recorded material in his recently assembled Topeka, Kansas home studio.

While the recordings are primarily solo acoustic guitar tracks, this is the first record on which he incorporated additional instrumentation to a few cuts. In addition to the CD, the package includes a 75-minute DVD consisting of a McKee documentary, interview and performance footage, and instructional segments for the songs “Joyland” and “Never Grow Old.”

McKee composed eight songs for Joyland and recorded new versions of the Tears For Fears hit, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and the late acoustic guitar innovator Michael Hedges’ “Layover,” the later of whom remains McKee’s biggest influence. The title track, on which the guitarist also plays the glockenspiel, opens the collection with a cascading quixotic melody that establishes a wide-eyed sense of wonder. McKee taps and slaps rhythmically amidst a gently flowing melody on “Blue Liquid.”

His hand-built 12-string harp guitar leads the spiraling “Away,” a cut to which McKee added depth and emotion with a cello performance. McKee played guitar and bass, and drummer Shawn Pelton added the rollicking pitter-patter to “Never Grow Old,” another piece inspired by McKee’s desire to “remain the same ridiculous guy I’ve always been.” You can almost feel the ascension while listening to “Upward Mobility.” On “Hunter’s Moon,” potent melodic swatches intertwine with complex poly-rhythmic beats and ambient tones. “My Life As A CPA (Parallel Universe #43)” is a contemplative rumination of how different life would have been if the author hadn’t picked up the guitar as a teenager. A beautiful ballad, “For Now” closes the album with poetic eloquence.

“My hope is that people are affected by my music, that the listeners take something away,” said McKee. “Each song has its own story about what inspired it. ‘Joyland’ was inspired by an old abandoned amusement park and serves as a metaphor for growing up. We tend to get too serious and stop visiting our playful personas as we mature, become more responsible and have less freedom to have fun. ‘Joyland’ and ‘Never Grow Old’ are about preserving elements of fun and amusement.”

To prime the grid for Joyland’s release, McKee concluded a three-week concert swing March 13th in Augusta, Georgia that started in New York City and trekked through East Coast epicenters such as Boston, Philadelphia, the DC & Baltimore areas, and Atlanta. Afterwards, McKee jetted to the United Kingdom to commence a month of shows before visiting the continent for a month of dates in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. Then it’s back to gigging in the U.S. and Canada with a concert itinerary solidly booked through July. As always, the master clinician includes an ample amount of instructional sessions at music stores, schools and festivals along the tour route that attract anywhere from 150 to 1500 participants.

After a few classical guitar lessons, McKee primarily taught himself how to play and is now recognized as one of the world’s finest fingerstyle players. He’s appeared on the cover of guitar magazines and was named “Guitarist of the Year” by Acoustic Guitar magazine. His five previous albums were self-released starting with his 2004 debut, Dreamcatcher. In an effort to build a following, McKee shot a few brief performance videos and posted them on YouTube. The clips spread like a viral epidemic as viewers were mesmerized by what they saw and heard. At one point, McKee held the #1, #2 and #3 most viewed clips simultaneously on YouTube, which to date have amassed over 78 million plays. His extraordinary technique is visual, which led to national television appearances on CNN Headline News and Last Call with Carson Daly. McKee was tapped to contribute his uniquely original style to Josh Groban’s multi-platinum holiday album, Noel. Harnessing the power of the internet combined with performing over 200 shows per year has enabled McKee to cultivate an immense fan base that spans from metal heads and rockers to New Agers and mainstream music listeners.

Additional information along with a complete list of concert dates is available at

Source: Great Scott Productions

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