Acoustic Innovators Series

Acoustic Uprising is a documentary about the innovative world of Modern FingerStyle guitar and features interviews with many of todays acoustic innovators including Tommy Emmanuel, Kaki King Andy Andy Mckee.

Below are some interview excerpts.

Check out the full line up of artists featured in the film here

Watch the Acoustic Uprising

Kaki King

Kaki King has been at the forefront of acoustic innovation for over a decade, and has helped elevate experimental Acoustic guitar to the mainstream. She shared her thoughts on the opportunities for exploration within the instrument and the origins of the Modern Acoustic guitar movement.

AU: What role does the acoustic guitar perform in our culture?

KK: I think it's been a really portable tool for songwriters and musicians. The cultural role of the acoustic steel string has been the songwriters tool. I think the ability to put an instrument on your back, take it with you, something that can do everything - it can be rhythm melody harmony. It has allowed people to write a lot of great songs without needing electricity, without needing you know something that's heavy so I think it's been a really portable tool for songwriters and musicians.

AU: How would you explain FingerStyle?

KK: I think it really it opens up the guitar to its potential which appears to be infinite. It just appears that it can never stop being interesting or there's never another you open a door and there's another door behind that door.

When you start changing the tuning of the strings and they start to interact with each other and wobble together and interfere. You know all these unintended harmonies can come out and that's how you discover what your guitar can really do.

AU: What does the acoustic guitar offer you as a musician that the electric doesn't?

KK: So the the fundamental difference to me between acoustic and electric is the length of the decay so the sustain. Like ghosts of chords that you just played are still lasting into the next chord, you know things like that. So if I play a note on the electric it's going to last long time. But playing on the acoustic. You know it's it's halfway gone. I think that that's how you play. You play with the length of the sustain of the string.

AU: What do you say when people ask you what kind of music do you play?

KK: So I I kind of have to say well you know do you know about music so I changed the tuning of the strings and then I play with my fingers on my right hand and then I then they'll go Oh you have long nails on your right hand. But how. But doesn't it make it hard to play guitar. And like going into the left hands the one that you don't want no one. So it's just a really long tedious conversation.
You know if you want to shut down people if they say so what. What kind of music do you play. You just say I play jazz and that's pretty much the end of the conversation every time. They're like oh great.


Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel, the ultimate six string showman shared with us some of his insights into what makes the acoustic guitar so versatile in the right hands, and why it's played such an important part in musical history...

AU: Why do you play the guitar the way you do?

TE: It has so many frequencies and if you do what I do with it and try to make it sound a bit like a bass guitar, this bit like the piano, a bit like a drum, all that sort of stuff. You can create something that will people listen and totally get it and wonder where all the other instruments are. You know it's hard to do that with the electric... if you play electric then you're going to have a band with you.

With the acoustic...I AM THE BAND.

AU: Who are the pioneers who have pushed the acoustic guitar forward over the years?

TE: We are definitely standing on the shoulders of giants. No one is more giant in the guitar world to me than Django Reinhart, one of the most important people in the chain of players.

The way nature seems to me to work is that Nature sends a messenger you know. So there started out to be in blues there was Robert Johnson and T Bone Walker and Son House house. And then B.B. King came along and he was the new messenger, and then Eric Clapton came along and HE was the new messenger you know and so the line goes on, and there's always been a messenger

AU: On Michael Hedges

TE: The acoustic guitar needed to go another direction and Michael Hedges certainly became “the messenger."

You can't point your finger and say well he got it from there. Michael Hedges is a mystery! He's a he's a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. It's so beautiful what what he did and someone like that comes along and then everybody tries to emulate that because he shows you something different that lit a fire in you. And that's what inspiration is all about.


Andy Mckee

Andy Mckee a modern acoustic virtuoso and a torch bearer for the movement. He is known for his trademark melodic sensibilities and of course the viral success of his youtube videos in the mid 2000s. Andy shared his thoughts on the acoustic guitar and performing instrumental music to audiences around the world.

AU: What is the perception of the acoustic guitar?

AM: I've heard some people call it grandpa's guitar you know, I think a lot of people have this idea that it's just something that accompanies singing you know generally. I often call fingerstyle guitar or what I do and a lot of other guys do ‘modern acoustic guitar’ because we're not trying to just strum chords and sing, we're trying to have a complete piece of music on the steel string acoustic guitar and a lot of us were inspired by guys like Michael Hedges you know where he was trying new ideas and techniques as well on the instrument.

AU: Why do you play instrumental music ?

AM: Instrumental music always resonated with me and how you can incorporate that into your life you know into whatever your story has been so far. Maybe some songs with lyrics have a particular story and you can't really relate to it necessarily. So I really gravitated towards instrumental music. The whole instrumental thing without the lyrics as I feel it's the best way for me to express myself and my emotions and my experience in life.

AU: What is life like as a touring solo acoustic artist?

AM: The professionalism that you have to have on the road you really have to to be on your game you get to wake up on time. Hit the road and drive you know that's something that I kind of learned from touring with Don Ross early on that he was really kind to take me on to Germany and Canada and so you know seeing how how he operated. Definitely was some insight for me and I still try to keep up with that. And another thing was I got to tour with Tommy Emmanuel early on too and we just we stayed in a little car you know for two weeks in the UK and so another great insight for me was just to be on well with him.

You know you got to remember that you're out there to give people a good time that hopefully lift them up for a few days you know and then get to bed and wake up in the morning at the next town. So.


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