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Six Strings, Nineteen Frets, No Limits

Today’s musical generation has transcended guitar. There are probably a thousand objectors who could claim this statement is erroneous, but long gone are the days when guitar gods were held at the highest tier of mainstream music. Who’s today’s Jimmy Page? I once heard somebody say that Lil Wayne is the Hendrix of our time, and in a sad, callous, downright sickening way, it’s true — he’s supposedly doing things with his genre that nobody previously thought possible, just like Jimi did.

If it weren’t for those musicians out there on the front lines, trying their best to prove that there are no limitations attached to six strings and nineteen frets, this writer would weep. Andy McKee is one of those musicians.

McKee plays with a virtuosic finger-picking technique that’s as enigmatically idiosyncratic as it is impressively familiar. Every note and compositional detail is deliberate, like tiles in a Roman mosaic, and the finished product is always a jaw-dropper.

After spending his teenage years learning to play guitar from instructional videos in Topeka, Kan., McKee drew influence from other solo acoustic players — notably Don Ross. Then, within a decade of picking up the guitar, McKee released his debut LP. That’s fast work by anybody’s standards, not to mention that releasing five more records in the next decade is also pretty badass.

Gathering a following on the internet has its pros and cons, a severe con of course being piracy, and McKee has responded to the world of file sharing like the boss he is. A comment beneath a torrent for one of McKee’s albums on The Pirate Bay — a popular file-sharing hub — reads:

“Yeah thanks a lot for uploading! It’s not like I need to make a living with my music or anything. 8,676 thieves. If you really appreciate what I am doing, buy my CD legitimately so I can continue to compose music rather than work at Kmart. I’m not Metallica. I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, much less millions.”

Three guesses on who wrote that.

Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour play 7 pm Sunday, Feb. 19, at WOW Hall; $15. — Andy Valentine