Don Alder has been playing guitar since he was a young teenager. Fame and touring were never a goal for the musician as he was happy to play by himself in his bedroom. Times have changed for the touring guitarist as he will be playing at the Fernie Arts Station on Oct. 8.
“When I did start playing in public it didn’t work out very well. I got a lot of the usual negative comments,” said Alder to The Free Press. ”Touring is essential to pay the bills of course and its very hard work with very long hours and pretty lonely at times but that’s what comes with the territory. For my genre of music you have to be passionate about what you do or there is no career.”
The majority of his shows – Fernie included, have been solo performances. Alder likes this style as he can change his performance style to suit the crowd and venue.
“If I’m playing a show that has an audience of 2,000 plus and also includes other artists then I try to be as entertaining as possible. If it’s an intimate house concert setting then it’s about trying to connect with people with music and storytelling. I truly prefer the later as it’s much more rewarding for me,” he said. “As for the Fernie show I’ll probably do a bit of everything depending on the audience. So to describe it I’d say singing songs, playing entertaining instrumentals, storytelling. I’m hoping to bring my harp guitar which usually draws some interest.”
Alder hopes to be making more small town stops in the future and his first show in Fernie is a part of that initiative.
“I have not performed in Fernie but did a few performances in the Kootenays last year,” he said. “I have played a lot overseas with a focus on Germany but have not done a good job covering Canada or BC for that matter, mostly because of the distances you have to travel and the costs associated which makes it hard to tour but my goal for the next three or four years is to try and bring my live performance to smaller towns which don’t usually get my types of acts coming to their community.”
Alder is also touring to promote his latest album Armed & Dangerous whih has been nominated for multiple awards.
“I’m touring my latest CD Armed & Dangerous and happy to report that it’s currently nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award and a Canadian Folk Music Award for ‘Instrumental Artist of the Year’ I had a lot of fun making the CD as its kind of inspired by the Walking Dead TV series. The idea for the cover art was also fun,” he said. “I wanted the artist to create a character, specifically and an acoustic guitarist living in zombie apocalyptic times needing to get to his gigs which would require a weapon equipped guitar which includes blades, chainsaw and a whammy bar operated flame thrower. The only downside was that touring internationally with a CD titled Armed & Dangerous was probably not the wisest choice of names.”
Alder has three favourite achievements so far in his career.
“Winning worldwide guitar idol in 2011, representing Canada at the 1992 and 2000 Paralympic Games as the equipment tech for the Canadian Paralympic Team but the most important achievement was being a member of the Rick Hansen ‘Man in Motion World Tour’,” he said. “I was in the accident with Rick as a kid and put my music career on hold for two and a half years to volunteer for a monumental effort that helped be a catalyst for social change around the world.”
Tickets and more information on the event can be found online or at the Fernie Arts Station. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets will cost adult members $15, youth members $10 and non-member adults $20 and non-member youth $14. There is also a five concert pass being offered to members for $60 or non-members for $75.
“I’m hoping we get a good turnout. Good turnouts are important for live music as there is little money to be made from downloads and streaming. Strong attendance will keep unique acts of all types coming to Fernie especially when the cost of tickets aren’t that high to see a live experience versus watching youtube or listening to music players,” said Alder. “My shows are geared for all ages and if there’s any guitarists in Fernie looking for new ideas then I challenge them to come out and would be totally willing to chat with them after the show or if someone wants to arrange a private lesson while I’m in the area or organize a workshop for a handful of players I’m totally game. Also as a little incentive the first three people that come up to me pre-show or after the show or during the break and tell me a name of a character from The Walking Dead TV series will get a free CD or set of Ernie Ball aluminum bronze guitar Strings.”