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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Siebert

Fingerstyle Guitar Legend Don Ross Comes to Aeolian Hall

With a towering career spanning more than three decades, Don Ross has garnered worldwide acclaim for his game-changing guitar artistry. This living legend brings his latest tour to Aeolian Hall on April 12. The Old East Village BIA was able to chat with Don about his career and upcoming concert at this beloved OEV venue. Tickets are available now!

With a seating capacity of 300, The Aeolian provides one of London, Ontario’s most intimate concert experiences. It’s the perfect setting for Don to showcase his fingerpicking magic since the audience can get close enough to see him at work as his fingers fly over the frets. 

Don began playing guitar at around eight years old when his older sister brought home hand-me-down instruments from school for her brothers. Don says, “Our brains just about exploded." Although he took to the guitar instantly, Don doesn’t identify as a ‘guitar geek.’ Instead, he considers the instrument as a well-suited tool for expressing his musical ideas.

“It just became a real passion of mine," he says. "I wasn’t really a hang-out-at-the-mall or watch-TV kid, I just wanted to play music all the time. Nothing much has changed in all these years. I still basically just think about music 100% of the time.”

Although he has been creating music for 36 years, Don continually develops his skills as a composer and artist. During the pandemic, he completed an orchestration master's degree, allowing him to mix music more immersively. “I feel like a perpetual student,” he admits. “There’s never-ending stuff to learn about music especially. It’s a Pandora’s box, once you open it.”

Don’s ongoing dedication to his craft has brought him critical acclaim. He was the first two-time winner of the U.S. National Fingerpick Guitar Championship and still holds the record to date. Recently, he was honoured with the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts. Audiences won't want to miss seeing this internationally recognized artist in an intimate venue like Aeolian Hall.

Don has fond memories of both The Aeolian and London, having visited many times over the years to play shows solo and in quartets. One of his favourite highlights was his sold-out 2017 show at The Aeolian. It has been more than five years since he last graced their stage and his return is much-anticipated. 

Don Ross will be sharing the stage with Kent Nishimura, a guitar prodigy from Japan who rose to success with his talented arrangements of popular music. Don’s fingerstyle work was influential to Kent, who describes Don as his ‘guitar hero.’ The show’s double-bill format will provide creativity and flexibility, with the two talented musicians taking turns and collaborating onstage. “It’s a refreshing format for a lot of people,” Don says. “It’ll be more like a guitarist songwriter circle.” 

The evening will feature tunes from Don’s latest album, Water, and selections from his impressive body of work which spans 17 previous solo albums. Playing music live is an essential part of Don’s process. “I’m a believer that music needs to be played and it needs to go through the air into people’s ears,” he says. “Doing that in a live way is definitely the most visceral and wonderful way of doing it.”

New audience members are in for a treat since Don’s work has something for everyone. “The music tends to stick out because it doesn’t sound like every other guitar player you’ve ever heard,” Don says. Having grown up surrounded by music on all sides, his sound is steeped in diverse influences, including R&B, rock, acoustic, and classical traditions. Fans both new and old can appreciate his artistry up close at Aeolian Hall. 

Don’t miss your chance to see Don Ross on April 12th at The Aeolian! Tickets are available now ($30 in advance, $35 at the door). Catch more of Don's work on his YouTube channel.

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