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Artist of the Month for December 2005: Don Alder

Name: Don Alder though some folks seem to be calling me "Donny" Alder

Age: Sweet 16 as of 33 years ago = but a very young 49

Town: Vancouver BC Canada

Hometown: Grew up in a small cow town in the interior of British Columbiacalled Williams Lake aka "Willies Puddle"

At what age did you start playing guitar and why?
I started late around the age of 14. I had taken ill for a few months which kept me out of school. My mother gave me a guitar to help make staying home and resting more tolerable. I learned the intro to "Satisfaction" and thenput the guitar to rest. At some point in time I saw the movie "Woodstock" and was totally blown away by Alvin Lee and the very cool instrumental piece played by Jimi Hendrix at the end of the movie. I then began playingelectric guitar for some time until I met a guy that knew how to fingerpick, so he taught me the basics and I just kept going with it.

First guitar:
Simpson Sears electric deluxe 39.00 followed by a cheap Suzuki parlor guitar

Early Influences:
Jimi Hendrix, Alvin Lee, Brian May, Wishbone Ash, Bruce Cockburn and Frank Zappa, Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath

First gig: At a school sock hop with a LOUD noisy band called Arsus Myth.

Acoustic Guitars you own:
I have a nice Family of acoustics that were custom made by some very talented builders. Each has there own unique place for recording or live. Collection includes: Sugicraft Mini Jumbo, Duane Noble Harp Guitar, Mark Deering OM, Andrew White Custom Body, Micheletti Kestrel, Jenkins Chameleon, Spirit Guitars Presentation OM, and a Gottschall Funnel body

Favourite Guitar:
A Greenfield Don Alder - G4 signature model would be at the top of the list and my main guitar. Some of my other faves would include a Mark Wood OM Wedge, Tony Karol custom, Matt Mustapick Baritone, De Gier OM , Jimmy Caldwell FC Model, and a wonderful custom OM by Victor Guitars.

Your Style, and how you developed it:
It's somewhat of a mutated Clawhammer technique. I have quite an aggressive right hand that strums while the fingers are picking. I started off with playing the usual picking patterns along with anchoring the pinky on the soundboard. At some point I made a conscious effort to incorporate the pinky. This opened a whole new range of possibilities. The non-stationary wrist along with the picking allows for some very fast playing when needed. New techniques are usually born from the songwriting process. I hear an idea and then find ways of making it audible on the guitar.

Practice Regimen:
I try to practice but every time I pick up the guitar the session quickly turns into an adventure. It's a huge thrill to discover new things or write new songs. I guess you could say I'm practicing as theres a lot of repetition that comes with this process. A lot of what I record or do live is far from perfect. For me it's about creation and feeling. My playing style is passion driven. Sometime back I received a compliment from Pierre Bensusan. He came up to me and said "Don" "Great Set!". I thought to myself "COOL" then I realized he didn't say anything about the actual guitar playing, haha. Coming from Pierre they were still great words of encouragement.

Favorite Artist(s):
Don Ross, Pierre Bensusan, Tommy Emmanuel, Peter Finger, Masa Sumide, Alex Di Grassi, Steve Vai, Robben Ford, Dave Martone, Jeff Beck, Vicente Amigo, Pat Metheny, Wishbone Ash and my good buddy Andy Mckee,

Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?
Actually Yes, I would like to say "So young, So angry, Damn dat rap music" heh heh. But in all seriousness, It's a great time for acoustic guitarists. Opportunities and audiences are growing. If either of these cease to exist then let me introduce you to this short quote from Bruce Cockburn. "If you're not willing to play at a train station for tips then you might want to consider a different career" or something similar to that. I live by this. If there's money to be made, great!, but if not, Ill always play for the love of the instrument even if Im confined to playing in my bedroom. I would also like to say a special thanks to luthiers who like musicians can make very little money but build for the love of creating an instrument from a piece of wood.

Visit Don's website at www.donalder.com to learn more about Don and his music.
If you are a guitarist with a cd out and would like to be featured here please contact me.

AOTM Archives:

August 2008 - Danny Combs
March 2006 - Bryan Clark
Februry 2006 - Darin Leong
January 2006 - Andy McKee
December 2005 - Don Alder
November 2005 - Doug Young
October 2005 - Nancy Conescu
August - September 2005 - Warren Greig
July 2005 - Ian Melrose
June 2005 - Roger Lasley
May 2005 - Jim Tozier
April 2005 - Jessica Papkoff
March 2005 - Todd Habekost
February 2005 - Michael Hewett
January 2005 - Steve Barney
December 2004 - Tony McManus
November 2004 - Chris Newman
October 2004 - Kevin Kastning
September 2004 - Rick Duke
August 2004 - El McMeen
June-July 2004 - Charles David Alexander
May 2004 - Tony Capri
April 2004 - Shane Simpson
March 2004 - Bill Cooley
February 2004 - Greg Meckes
January 2004 - Gary Leek
December 2003 - Ernie Hawkins
November 2003 - Keith Knight
October 2003 - Jaquie Gipson
September 2003 - Chuck Durfor
August 2003 - Cathy Horner
July 2003 - Art Edelstein
June 2003 - Muriel Anderson
May 2003 - Clarelynn Rose
March-April 2003 - Steve Wildey
February 2003 - Rick Ruskin
January 2003 - Kerry Kling
December 2002 - Tim O'Brien
November 2002 - Howard Emerson
October 2002 - Dennis Roger Reed
September 2002 - Larry Pattis
August 2002 - Paul Asbell