Don Ross plays the WECC Jan. 25. (Rik Roe)
My personal style is influenced by all kinds of music, including non-western music (African and Indian music) as well as urban dance music like funk, soul and R & B.
—Don Ross, musician
Don Ross is the only person to win the U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship twice. He has been playing guitar since he was eight years old and by the time he was 10, he had almost exclusively stopped playing with a guitar pick.
He has played across North America and Europe and is perhaps best known for the 1999 album Passion Session. According to Ross' website that album has been included on several "all time best acoustic guitar recordings" lists.
Ross brings his fingerstyle guitar playing to the West End Cultural Centre on January 25. SCENE asked him five fast questions to prime you for his show.
Can you describe your style of guitar playing?
It tends to get referred to as "Fingerstyle," for lack of a better name. The technique involved is distantly related to classical guitar playing, but the repertoire is modern, and primarily original, in my case. My personal style is influenced by all kinds of music, including non-western music (African and Indian music) as well as urban dance music like funk, soul and R & B.
How many guitars do you own? Which one is your favourite and why?
I have a variety of guitars that serve various purposes. I have a few regular-pitched acoustics, as well as a baritone, a 7-string, a few specialized electrics, a dobro slide guitar, lap steel slide guitars, and a fretless electric bass. I like them all! For live shows I tend to use a new cedar Marc Beneteau guitar as well as a Beneteau fan-fret baritone.
What is your favourite song to play? Why?
I love the funkier tunes I've written, especially "Michael, Michael, Michael," and "Afraid to Dance." It's fun to rock out, and audiences seem to love those tunes a lot.
What is the most difficult part of performing?
A combination of all the travel and dealing with the realities of the road. That's the hard part, although I do love seeing the world. The actual performance aspect of it all is fine -- not really difficult anymore at this point.
Could you describe your favourite moment on stage?
I recently got to perform for a thousand screaming Russians at a very beautiful brand new concert hall in Moscow. I did part of the show with my wife Brooke Miller. It was truly a career highlight. I also got a huge charge out of performing with an orchestra for the first time back in 1987!
Don Ross plays the West End Cultural Centre January 25.