News / Calgary

Alberta air guitarist asking others to hop on the bandwagon for world fame

Shredding one out on an air guitar isn't just for the bedroom anymore.

In fact, those tuned into the competitive world know a quiet – but well choreographed – storm has been brewing and, in Alberta, one of Canada's best is ready to turn it up to 11.

"I play the bass guitar, I play the drums also, but I find my air guitar is always there for me," said Tyler "Cat Friday" Gardner. "It's always in tune, it's always right where I left it, and if I lose it there's always another one right there."

Gardner is ranked as the third-best air guitarist in Canada, which means he is considered Alberta's top-ranking strummer, and he's challenging closet rockers to step up and help put our province – and country – on the air-guitar-talent map.

"We're trying to make a big comeback and take over," Gardner said, adding he is trying to rally Albertans to compete this year.

"All you need is a stage name, a persona and just the readiness to rock," he said. "You can be a world champion and walk around for the whole year, telling your family and friends that you are the world's best air guitarist … I get fired up when I talk about it because it's so ridiculous that it's just awesome … give it a try!"

Gardner is part of Air Guitar Canada, a non-profit group that formed last year to help bring more awareness to the competition, now entering its 20th year.

The organization raises funds through ticket sales, and locally through Indiegogo, to get players competing in Nationals and Worlds – the rest of the funds are donated to Right to Play Canada, a charity dedicated to using sport and play to help youth overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease across the world.

How it works

Performers compete on a city level, then provincial and finally national. The Calgary-level event will be held on July 11.

Five people will be chosen per city to compete provincially and then sent to Toronto on July 25 to compete against all other provincial champs until a Canadian winner is chosen.

The world competition is then held in Finland.

Strummers dress up for two rounds of play. The championship round is first, which consists of a prepared song, with a costume and planned moves. The second round is called the compulsory round, which involves a song players have never heard.

"Air guitar is scored on a scale of 4.0 to 6.0 – it's like (old-style) figure skating in that way," said Gardner. "You're scored on stage presence, outfit, song choice and something called 'airness.'"

He describes that last aspect as the "je ne sais quoi" element that pushes a performance over the top.

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