Cheesk McGee, left, and Keller Williams at SummerCamp Music Festival. (Submitted Photo)

Quincy acoustic act Cheeks McGee is gearing up to open for the Bret Michaels shows Wednesday and Thursday at Backwaters. He talks about what he has been up to and how it feels to get the chance to open for a “rockstar.”

GETTING TO OPEN FOR BRET MICHAELS
“It hit me by total surprise that I was even considered to open. Bryan Smith of TNT Harley Davidson in Quincy is the promoter of the show and was the guy to actually get Bret Michaels to play in Quincy. Bryan and his family are wonderful people, and he has hired me many times playing for some of his functions and along the way he became a fan of my music. So he comes to a lot of my shows and is constantly hooking me up with gigs or getting my info to people that are looking for live music. He put in my name and discussed it with his team along with the tour managers and sound and light people. It also helped that my management company (SoZo Productions) is running sound and lights for the show, so they are familiar with my setup, and it doesn’t hurt that I don’t take up too much room either.”

THIS SUMMER

“I am super excited to get the opportunity to play a show with Bret Michaels. This summer has been really good to me. I did a full nationwide tour, played six sets in two days at SummerCamp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Ill., with musicians such as my hero Keller Williams, Moe, Umphree’s McGee, The Avett Brothers and Gov’t Mule to name a few. Now getting to play two nights with Bret Michaels. I am very grateful.”

MY SOUND
“My sound can be very versatile, and I usually play to the type of crowd that is before me. I feed off people and the interactions from the crowd to the stage. People have labeled my sound as ‘high energy acoustic rock’ or ‘a one-man band.’ I play acoustic guitar and use a live looping pedal that records what I play in real time. After a loop is set, I hit my guitar for a kick drum and snare sound, use vocal percussion or beatboxing for the hi hat sound, use a pedal to drop my guitar sound one octave for the bass guitar, then solo with my trumpet and flugelhorn, and end it with singing over all that and adding vocal layers. When all that is going, it sounds like a full band in front of you, but it is just me creating layers upon layers of music stacked like a cake.”

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM SHOWS AT BACKWATERS

“I’m the party before the party! It’s going to be a huge two nights. I am actually releasing a live album Wednesday night available via my new website. My management company, SoZo Productions has recorded lots of my live shows, so we compiled about 10 to 13 of my best live moments and songs onto a full-length album. This will be my first official live release and will be available on my website and itunes. So on Wednesday, Aug. 18, go to www.cheeksmcgee.com and check out the new website, download the new live album and check my upcoming dates! There are lots of fun things in the works for this fall.”

“Bret Michaels is the definition of a “rockstar” and it is great that Quincy will get to experience this.”

Jessica Martin
jmartin@whig.com