I remember vividly the first time I saw an Andy McKee video.
"Are you kidding me?" leapt to mind.
Here's a very normal-looking guy sitting in front of some wooden acoustic blinds, absolutely annihilating the acoustic guitar in ways you haven't seen before.
Through a combination of very expressive strings, a good microphone and an excellent guitar, his two-handed tapping style made the acoustic instrument sound more like a harp player ripping arpeggios, with timing so precise you'd think it was preprogrammed on a computer.
McKee's video "Drifting," the one that introduced him to me, has seen more than 50 million views in the nine years since it dropped. So impressive was this guy's style that it propelled him into all kinds of interesting work and accompanying stardom.
It also had a big effect on young, aspiring musicians. I've seen a few young guys who've since mastered the two-hand tapping technique and now allow it to open the boundaries of their compositions. A player from LA comes to mind named Justin King.
As usual, this is the point in the column where I tell you that we have our own two-handed tapping master right here in Colorado, and I know this because I've recorded him.
Colorado Daily's recording studio ( secondstorygarage.com) has seen so many genres and styles of music in the last three or four years we've been recording. But this local guitar slayer stands out to me in the list, because he really is a focused, dedicated artist hell bent on becoming the best. You watch a guy like that over the years, and it's astonishing where the drive can take him.
I speak of Grayson Erhard, leader of the band Aspen Hourglass, who have a headline show lined up at the Fox Theatre on July 1. Grayson's style and music is definitely influenced by Andy McKee, and in an amazing "getting to work with your hero" type of situation, last year he opened for Andy in a guitar-rich show at Denver's Soiled Dove Underground.
Every new generation needs to stand out from the last a bit, if boundaries are to be moved. Grayson doesn't just perform perfectly timed two-handed tapping in his music. His is a hybrid style of tapping, difficult fingerpicking, sliding, neck bending and percussive use of the guitar body, presented in lush compositions with compelling themes.
The kicker with Grayson ... I don't know how else to put this. He sings like a rock god! And I wouldn't use that phrase lightly. His voice reminds me of Incubus' lead singer Brandon Boyd, and his ability to hit soaring high notes in our studio in every take perfectly really blew me away. With some recorded music, you wonder if the lead singer can pull it off on stage every night. No worries with Grayson — in a Colorado band on the rise, this guy has the vocal chops to go far.
Check them out next week at the Fox, and be sure to get up to speed on what the band's doing next at aspenhourglass.com.
Read more Taylor: coloradodaily.com/columnists