Back in September of 2010 Ear of Newt reported on how local acoustic-guitar wizard Don Alder had won the 2010 Guitar Superstar Competition, and that it was his second major win after being the first Canuck to take the prestigious International Fingerstyle Championships in 2007.
Well, since then the mindboggling fret-master has scored a third coup, as last December he headed over to jolly old England and came back with first prize at the Guitar Idol III competition. That's the type of hat-trick any redblooded Canadian would be thrilled to score.
Alder has been Vancouver's "best kept little secret" for several years now, but it's definitely time to get the word out on this guy. During an hour-long chat with him recently I found out that we have at least one thing in common: we're both crazy about the same '70s prog-rock band that popularized the use of twin-lead guitars.
"My favourite rock guitarists of all time that have had the most influence on my melodies would be the two guitar players from Wishbone Ash," he said, "on any given album they play on. I love their twin-guitar harmonies. I actually saw Laurie Wisefield in England when I was there. I emailed him and he actually answered back."
My personal fave Wishbone Ash album is 1972's Argus, which featured Andy Powell and Ted Turner on guitars, and boasted such choice tracks as "Blowin' Free", "The King Will Come", and "Throw Down the Sword". Alder is more into 1974's There's the Rub, which saw Turner replaced by Wisefield, and included the beautiful ballad "Persephone" and colossal instrumental "F.U.B.B."
Alder has a few other fave pickers as well.
"I like so many colours, so I'll break it down," he said. "In terms of the fingerstyle stuff I mostly listen to singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell. In blues and jazz I love Robben Ford and Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour. And when you take the crazier stuff, I love Frank Zappa. I finally got to see [Dweezil Zappa's] Zappa Plays Zappa in Vancouver not too long ago and they played 'Billy the Mountain' and I was in heaven. I could die after that."
For more from Alder about his love of guitar, his prizewinning ways, and his close relationship with "Man in Motion" Rick Hansen, see the Local Motion piece running sometime soon in the Georgia Straight.
You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.