Naples Daily News
by Lori Darvas
Whether its a crowd of seventy or seven thousand, Andy Wahlberg puts on a great show. Dont try to sit through an Andy Wahlberg show without cracking a smile. Its difficult to be solemn as Wahlberg strums his 1920 Harp Guitar and sings King Louies Song from The Jungle Book, complete with ape sounds and bulging eyes. Give him a harmonica and he becomes Johnny Cash.
For a moment hes serious, hunching over his guitar and offering up a soulful melody. Next, hes raising his eyebrows mischievously as he breaks into a chorus of "Mister Ed".
He has a boyish grin that shows up early and sticks around. The grin stays as he walks off the small stage, chatting with the crowd at the Sanibel Resort where we caught his performance. Earlier that evening, he performed in front of 7,000 as the opening act for Chicago. Big crowds, he says, dont intimidate him. Hes performed for big crowds, little crowds and even television cameras.
Wahlberg has been playing guitar for 20 years. Today, the 6 foot 7 inch musician delights audiences with his mixture of rhythm and blues, folk and pop with a lot of entertaining mixed in for extra spice.
Dont try to put one label on Wahlbergs music. His songs vary, from his comical, tongue in cheek Mechanic Blues, complete with gravel voice and heavy guitar chords, to Destinys Child, one of several autobiographical songs laden with emotion and self discovery, to the lilting instrumental Earth Dance, part of his New Age music repertoire.
Wahlberg is a master of ad lib. Hell break into Feelings during his monologue and hell greet his mother during a song. Hell even invite someone from the audience up to the stage for an impromptu duet of Jingle Bells. (Yes, Jingle Bells in May. It was a song they both knew.)
His trademark is the antique Harp Guitar he found in a pawn shop 20 years ago. The time worn instrument offers both a standard guitar neck with six strings and an additional neck with six bass strings. The pawn shop owner wanted $400 for it. Wahlberg offered $325. He took it home, fixed it up and removed the name Ike that someone had scratched into the top. He has been writing songs with it and playing it ever since.
Though Wahlberg maintains a busy touring schedule, he is currently concentrating on doing more production work out of his home recording studio. He is working on a soundtrack for a PBS special on Florida lighthouses. He is also writing music and working on a new album. Andy currently resides in South Florida.