News / Edmonton

Air Guitar in Edmonton not just for teenage boys: national champion

Calling all wanna-be rock stars—get yourself and that air guitar out of the bedroom, because Edmonton is looking for a shredding hero.

At stake is bragging rights as the Alberta champ, then nationals in Toronto and, for one bad-ass air guitar superstar, an August trip to the 20th world championships in Finland.

Alberta’s top shredder, 29 year-old Tyler ‘Cat Friday” Gardner, has competed to make it to the worlds for 11 years in a row (he’s now ranked third in Canada), but is taking a break this year to grow the community.

“Other than my fiancé, this is the passion of my life, said Gardner, a welder by trade. “We come in all shapes and sizes, and my dreams of getting to Finland aren’t quenched yet.”

Around his work hours, Red Deer-based Gardner dashes between Edmonton and Calgary to put up posters and do media interviews in hopes of drumming up interest for events in the two cities.

“You don’t need musical knowledge, and you can be old or young, rich or poor,” he said. “All you need is an ‘air-ness’—an ability to be overtaken by the music. A good player will make you forget what you’re watching is imaginary. It can feel like a real rock concert.”

YouTube is filled with shredders doing back flips and jumps as part of the act, and Gardner said people in wheelchairs and even 70-plus have made it to the finals too. It’s part of what Air Guitar Canada organizer Tim Evans calls an ‘explosion of interest. We’ve gone from 30 competitors last year to over 150 in eight regional contests this year,” he said. “There’s a rejuvenation in North America—it’s hilariously fun to watch.”

The Edmonton competition on June 27 (for those 18-plus), also features an Iron Maiden tribute band, Powerslave. Half of all proceeds raised go to Right to Play Canada, which uses games and play to help youth overcome poverty and conflict around the world.

“Our theme is to promote world peace,” Gardner said. “If everyone held an air guitar instead of a gun, it’d be a better world.”

See airguitarcanada.org to enter a local competition, or email tylerbing@hotmail.ca

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