Walnut Valley Festival
International Fingerstyle Guitar Contest – September 13, 2007
Number of Contestants = 39 representing 22 U.S. States and Japan and Canada
Don Alder of Vancouver, BC, Canada placed 1st in this prestigious contest. Don says he is very very young and getting younger each year. In real life he is a Technical Production Manager for the Rick Hansen Foundation. This is his fifth time attending the Festival. He is also a songwriter and has placed three years in a row in the instrumental portion of the Songwriter’s Showcase here at the Festival. At the age of 13 he was given an electric guitar when he got sick and had to miss school for 6 months. In addition to the guitar he also plays the harp guitar. Alder and Rick Hansen were good friends as teenagers and after a day of fishing, the two were returning home when they had an accident and Rick suffered a spinal injury, but Don came away without injury. Rick went on to become a world-class wheel chair athlete and now Don is quite proud of the fact that he was a member of the Rick Hansen “Man in Motion World Tour.” Rick wheeled almost 25,000 miles in a wheelchair through 34 countries raising awareness and raised $24 million for spinal cord research. Don still works with Rick Hansen today at his Foundation. A movie for the theaters will be released in 2008 on Rick Hansen’s life. Don’s character will be in the movie and some of his original music will be used in the film. As you can see, Don is a talented man and music is a major part of his life. Don chose the Larrivee LV-10 Guitar by Jean Larrivee Guitars USA Inc of Oxnard, CA. He also takes back to Vancouver, BC the 1st Place Trophy and $3,000
Second place went Tim Thompson of Hendersonville, TN. Time came to Winfield last year for the first time and placed in the top five in this competition. “I had a great time,” Tim adds. He is a full-time musician in Nashville doing a lot of studio work and some concerts. In addition to the guitar Tim plays a little mandolin. He says he has been playing the guitar since he was 12 years old. He got his first guitar from his older brother, Denny. It was an old Sears Airline Guitar with the amp built into the case. His brother had paid $25 for the instrument. For hobbies Tim likes to travel with his wife and two children. He also is not bad at flying radio-controlled airplanes. Will he come back to Winfield and the Festival? “Of course,” he says “I have to try for first place in this contest.” Also his 13-year-old son, Myles is becoming a pretty darn good fiddle player and in a few years he hopes to enter him in the Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Contest here at the Festival in Winfield. Tim won the 2nd place trophy and a Triggs Flattop Guitar by Jim & Ryan Triggs of Lawrence, KS.
A 48-year old professional musician from Merriam, KS placed third in this competition. Dan Bliss, a professional musician, has entered this contest three times and in 2005 he placed second. He plays a lot in the greater Kansas City area, the upper mid-west and does some teaching. When asked about his early playing days he says he has been playing for 37 years. He began playing on his older brother’s Epiphone guitar and it is still one of his favorite guitars. Dan is married and he and his wife have one child and they are expecting another one soon. About the Festival, Dan says, “I’m starting to feel at home here.” For his talents he won the 2nd place trophy and a Gallagher GA-70 Cut-a-way Guitar by J.W. Gallagher & son of Wartrace, TN.
Tim Thompson of Hendersonville, TN (2nd), Don Alder of Vancouver,
BC Canada (1st), and Dan Bliss of Merriam, KS (3rd)