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The guitar was laid out at George Dennehy's feet on a black cloth to keep it from moving. Barefoot, he used his right foot to lift the capo. With the left, he held a pick between his toes.

Dennehy was born without arms, and he says he is the only known person in the world who plays classical string music using his feet.

But he was in Bethlehem on Tuesday for Musikfest showing another side: playing acoustic rock songs as the opening act for the Goo Goo Dolls at the Sands Steel Stage.

Before the concert, he put on a short show for a small mob of reporters and photographers.

“Sorry it’s taking me a while to get ready,” Dennehy said. “This capo and these toes are a challenge, but it works.”

A capo changes the key signature of the instrument without retuning it. Dennehy’s capo fixes to the neck of his guitar with a spring. Without hands, it’s hard to generate the kind of pressure required to open the capo, and even putting it on the guitar can be a logic puzzle.

But when Dennehy began playing, there was little question about his ability. For an 18-year-old, Dennehy would be a good guitarist even if he was using his hands. Knowing he’s playing with his feet adds another level to the experience, but it’s not the only thing impressive about his talent.

Though he was taught cello, he is self-taught at guitar, meaning he had to develop his own style of picking. Though he uses regular tuning and chord positions much of the time, he had to figure out a comfortable way of fretting those chords upside-down and with digits thicker and more cumbersome than fingers.

The very religious Dennehy understands his potential to motivate others.

“God made me without arms to show others I can do what I want to do despite what I don’t have,” Dennehy said.

He’s also not afraid to have a sense of humor about his disability; his Twitter handle is @Thatarmlessguy.

An adopted son brought into a musical family, Dennehy began learning the cello at 8 years old. But his popularity came after a friend recommended he post a video of him performing the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” to the website Reddit. In a few days, the video went viral, circling the Internet.

“People started calling me, saying, ‘Hey, George. You’re on some Australian website,’” Dennehy said.

Soon Dennehy had won “Richmond’s Got Talent,” and, a recent high school graduate, he began to think of music as a possible career.

Then the biggest news: Mike Malinin, drummer for Goo Goo Dolls, saw his performance of “Iris” on YouTube.

"We sound checked with him to make sure he knows how to play the song," Malinin said in an exclusive interview Tuesday. "I think he knows it better than we do."

Dennehy didn't seem star-struck when he met the Dolls for the first time.

"I think he just wanted to play," said Goo Goo Dolls lead singer Johnny Rzeznik.

Right now, Dennehy is content to cover his favorite artists, although he writes his own music.

Hold your breath for the album and follow its development on Facebook.

Dennehy returns to the Richmond Outreach Center, a church and recording space he described as “awesome,” to record eight or nine covers, later this week. From there, he’ll head to Nashville, Tenn., where he will be collaborating with studio musicians to create original material.
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