2017 National Championships Re-Cap – PHOENIX for the WIN!

One Big Airy Family. Thanks to All Who Made 2017 Our Biggest Year Yet!

MAD MAX get-ups. Tear-away pants. 8 month pregnant rocker-moms. Puppet Judges. Drinking syrup from a skate. Beat-box Battles. HELLbros! Nordic Thunder and the 2016 World Champion of Air Guitar Aristotle! These are just a few of the highlights that made up an epic night of joy-raising and celebration of World Peace in the name of Air Guitar and our charity Right to Play Canada 

The following post shares the good times through the amazing photography of Henry Vanderspek who goes by the handle Culture Snap Photography. We also have a few choice videos from our resident videographer and editor Cat Mills.

After all the shredding and face-melting, Gen ‘The Phoenix’ Leblanc – the 2017 Toronto Champ and 2016 Ottawa Champ, emerged the clear favourite and was crowned the 2017 Air Guitar Canada Champion. She will go on to represent our country at the 22nd Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. We will all be cheering for The Phoenix, our first female Champion, to become our first World Champion on August 25th.

We have so many to thank for bringing our season to its successful conclusion…

To our 2017 Local Organizers:

  • Mike Erman and his team in Saskatoon who have done 2 years of successful events now in the name of charity Creative Kids. Just under $2000 raised in the last two years
  • Tyler Gardner and his crew in Red Deer for his three years of organizing events all over Alberta, most recently and successfully in support of Suicide Prevention in honour of our lost brother Joel ‘Hand Solo’ Zak. $600 for the cause in 2017.
  • George Best of the Local in Medicine Hat, Alberta for two years of successful events and just over $1600 raised for Right To Play.
  • Sandy Gibson from Ottawa for three years of amazing events at the House of Targ where our most recent cleared close to $2000.
  • Amy Blackmore and her team in Montreal for three years of Air Guitar Quebec events during her busiest time of Montreal Fringe.
  • To Arron Butowski and David Goetz for our two newest regions in Kamloops, B.C. and Stony Plain, Alberta. thanks for having the courage to take it on and making great first efforts in running brand new qualifying events.
  • To Carlos Mengual for being an awesome partner in Air and helping to make the whole season along with Toronto and Hamilton events a breeze.

To our Sponsors:

BANGER BINGO – for being the magic sauce of support for so many Alberta and Saskatchewan events. Book your holiday Banger BingoParty today.

Collective Arts Brewing for a great first year as our provider of fine suds and ciders. To Jordan, Kyle, Andrew and Elliott – you elevated our game and introduced us to some amazing judges!

Panago Pizza – our longest and most far reaching supporter. Panago has been supplying delicious za to fuel our rocking and helping us make a strong donation to our charity since 2014.

FOURCE Canada for giving our competitors some inspiration in their rocking out with Festival passes to Way Home

To Eatertainment and Hog Town Pub and Oysters for the prizes year after year.

Blitz Printing for giving us a sweet deal and making sure our posters and flyers popped.

To Mark Slater a.k.a. Whiskey Pockets for the graphics work and eternal and unrelenting enthusiasm. He assembles all the different posters and versions of our social media pieces. A true hero.

To Gladstone Hotel for putting up Nordic Thunder and Aristotle from the USA. To the Drake Hotel for feeding these special guests.

To The MOD Club for hosting another spectacular National Championships with all the trappings of a full-fledged rock show!


July 15th, 2017 – Toronto – The MOD Club. This is the 4th annual Air Guitar Canada National Championships. Previous winners have been Lee ‘Brym-Time’ Brymer (2014), Jay ‘THRUST’ McNeely (2015), and Blake ‘The Canadian Tuxedo’ Johnston (2016). After a strong female showing in 2016 with all but 2 regional finals having female champions, it was only a matter of time for the glass ceiling of Air Guitar to get smashed to smithereens and for a woman to take her place on the throne. And such was the case in 2017 – With Gen ‘The Phoenix’ Leblanc, convincingly taking the championship with near perfect 6’s in the final round.

But let’s start at the beginning…

The night opened up with a comedy set by Yuk Yuk’s Joey Harlem, dressed in the finest white suit he got the crowd warmed up and ready for the show opener.

Our theme this year was Make America Rock Again. We’ve done Canadiana, the British invasion, and it was time for us to celebrate the goodness that comes from our neighbours in the South – it is impossible to argue against the contribution of the United States to the library of guitar music that we all love and adore. To help make the celebration real… we brought in two legends of the Air Guitar world, past champions on the world stage – Justin’Nordic Thunder’ Howard and Matt ‘Aristotle’ Burns. Our Host, Nyree MacPherson, along with Carlos ‘Hanzel the Manzel’ Mengual and Glen Airy Glen Rocks dropped a series of American rock classics with some Air Guitar backing from the world champs to lighten the crowd and get the point across that we were gonna have lost of fun tonight. Andrew Johnston closed out the singing with Neil Young’s Coming to America, complete with glitter showers in Red, White and Blue. Aristotle and Nordic Thunder remained to end the number with Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner.

Nyree took over explaining the rules and the judging system.  She introduced our panel of judges for the Dark Horse competition:

DARK HORSE COMPETITION JUDGES: Matt ‘Aristotle’ Burns – 2016 World Champ, Justin ‘Nordic Thunder’ Howard – 2012 World Champ, , Andrew Johnston – Stand Up Comedian, Tanya Casole-Gouveia of Art Battle Canada and Air Guitar judging veteran Brandy Dawley.

Up first was Ricky Incognito!  He clapped and shimmied to the Gypsy Kings, but failed to get the scores needed to move into the Championship round. Cultural appropriation did not get the win… this time.

Next came the NINJ-AIR. Front somersaulting onto the stage he attempted to assassinate the judges with his moves but failed to strike a death blow and also narrowly missed the championship round.

Then came crowd favourite and Ottawa’s vice Champion from 2016, Zandy ‘The Space Mime Continuum’ Pothier. He re-capped his Ottawa performance but was just a scratch away from the top score to land him a spot in the Championships.

Up next was a first-time competitor who signed up that day after meeting Nordic Thunder at the bar the night before. Her name is Giselle and she rocked out proper to Tenacious D for her first go with the name Gisellebus Succubus. Strong first effort but she missed out narrowly for getting into the championships.

Up Next… a veteran of the Air Guitar scene back again to try and take the prize – James ‘Thrustin Beaver’ Dalzell, rocking out to Nickleback for another shot at the crown. He impressed the judges with his beer spitting and earned himself a spot!

Our last Dark Horse of the night was none-other than Leona ‘Ri-Ri Rockstar’ Placide. RiRi was a favourite in Toronto and she also competed in Hamilton, each time taking 5th place. She earned the highest scores of the Dark Horse round with her performance of Hot for Teacher. She moved on to the championship round.

In between getting the championship order set and giving our judges a chance to get a cold Collective Arts Brew, we had a special performance from some of Toronto’s finest beatboxers: Ryan Buckspawn, Cansun, J-NYCE, and Nassar. They blew the crowd away and Nassar came out the winner of the Battle, defeating Cansun in the final round.

The order for the Championship Round was established…

Nyree was back with a new awesome outfit and ready to introduce the Championships judging panel:

CHAMPIONSHIPS COMPETITION JUDGES: Brandy Dawley, Justin ‘Nordic Thunder’ Howard 2012 World Champ, Tanya Casole-Gouveia of Art Battle Canada. Aurora Brown of CBC’s The Baroness Von Sketch Show, & Cozy Balboa of puppet super rock group Feltworth 


It was time to get started – Up first was Charlene ‘Cha Cha Fierce’ Gibbons. She was a Brave Soul performer in Toronto and came in 4th place in that competition. She drew first performer and totally nailed it… you can’t help but wonder what her scores might have been later in the rotation. Huge energy and insane movement. She got: 5.9, 5.7, 5.5, 5.6, 5.8 for a score of 17.1 removing top and bottom scores.

Then came our 2016 Toronto Champion, Dana ‘Dana-Saurus Rex’ Schiemann who placed 3rd in Toronto in 2017. She is easily one of the most dynamic and aggressive performers. From shrinking violet to shrieking banshee, Dana destroyed the audience with her performance to The White Stripes Icky Thump. She scored: 5.9, 5.8, 5.7, 5.8, 5.7 for a total of 17.3.


After these two insane opening performances, anyone would have been terrified to go next. All except for The living legend himself… 74 year old Mr. Bob. Mr. Bob let us know why he was there… to ‘fucking rock and roll’ as he puts it. He played to the Hippy Shake by the Beatles. His scores were:  5.8, 5.5, 5.6, 5.4, 5.5 for a total of 16.6.

Next up was the 2017 Ottawa Champion – Erin ‘ The Mother of Air Guitar’ Wicker. Erin is 8 months pregnant. She created her own candles to sell to the crowd and raised over $300 for the charity. She rocked out to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. She is amazing and we can’t wait for her sleep deprived self to rock out with us again in 2018. She scored: 5.6, 5.3, 5.3, 5.7, 5.6 for total score of 16.4.

Following the old guy and the pregnant woman was Thrustin Beavers, straight from the Dark Horse Round. He rocked out Calm Like Bomb by Rage Against the Machine. He rocked nearly hard enough with scores: 5.5, 5.5, 5.9, 5.7, 5.6 for a total of 16.8.

After the Beaver came Ri Ri Rockstar, the other lucky Dark Horse of the night. She shredded out to the quintessential Van Halen track Eruption. Like a volcano, it was hot and explosive.  She scored: 5.8, 5.4, 5.8, 5.7, 5.8 for total score of 17.3.

AirHead Air-ron, our champion from Kamloops was next. His experience as a burlesque performer paid off as he knew how to tease the crowd and inventively disrobe to reveal his message on his buttocks ‘make air not war’. Thankfully not a reference to flatulence, the judges loved his performance of Rush’s Spirit of the Radio. His Scores: 5.9, 5.8, 5.9, 5.9, 5.7 – for a total of 17.6.

Following that top scoring performance was Brennan ‘Major Party’ Risling, the Saskatchewan Champion, who simply lived his name and launched into a wicked performance of Andrew W K’s Party Hard. He scored the first 6.0 of the championship round: 5.6, 5.8, 6.0, 5.7, 5.7 for total of 17.2.

After Party there came our Hamilton representative Kevin ‘Pyramids on Mars’ Estrella. He dedicated his performance to Pantera’s Dinmebag Darrell with a killer edit. Sublimely technical, his scores were: 5.8, 5.7, 5.8, 5.6 and 5.1 for a total of 17.1.

Next up was our Stony Plain, Alberta champion – Cat Friday. Always the artist he took Air Guitar to a new level, incorporating a roadie to help weave his tale of how Air Guitar can provide you with sustenance… The judges were equally impressed and mystified. His scores: 5.7, 5.5, 5.6, 5.5, 5.3  for total of 16.6

Once all the minds in the room had regained lucidity, it was the Quebec champion Adam ‘Fingers McG-String’ Reider to take to the stage.  he rocked out the most insane Guitar Hero track – Dragon Force’s Through the Fire and the Flames. he killed.  His scores: 5.8, 5.7, 5.8, 5.6, 5.5 for a total of 17.1.

Red Deer Alberta representative and Vice-Champion, Dan ‘Shred McGnarly’ Clark was the next to take to the stage. His bulging muscles made for some great power moves. The judges awarded him: 5.6, 5.4, 5.5, 5.5, and 5.7 for a total of 16.6. Nice gloves too.

Following up, was two time regional champion Gen ‘The Phoenix’ Leblanc. Fresh from her video shoot with VICE news, Gen delivered the highest scoring performance of the night with Green Day’s Bang Bang. We all know how this turned out: 6.0, 6.0, 5.9, 5.8, 5.9. For a total score of 17.8.

Following that slaying, and back to the Mod Club stage was the 2-time Medicine Hat Champion – Darin ‘Ebony Love’ McKay. He lit up the floor and walked away with great scores from the judges: 5.7, 5.8, 5.7, 5.8, 5.9 for a total of 17.3.

Then there was only one left. The 2016 Canadian Champ – Blake ‘The Canadian Tuxedo’ Johnston. Blake has been to the world stage and with tonight’s performance he sought to hold on to the champions title. He had all the pieces in place, amazing Canadiana, make up, a killer track. He rocked hard and received solid scores: 5.8, 5.7, 5.7, 5.7, 5.7 for a total of 17.1.

Before the scores were tallied – we invited our World Champs of Air Guitar on stage to give a special performance each celebrating their individual styles. Matt ‘Aristotle’ Burns went first.

Then Justin ‘Nordic Thunder’ Howard – each showed the crowd what it means to be a champion of this thing we call Air Guitar.

Finally it was time to announce the finalists and the song that the audience chose for the final round. We revealed the trophy, built by Cat Friday – welded from steel and painted red for the 150th birthday of our nation.

Gathered on stage were ten finalists – there was a 4 person tie for 7th place. In order:

  1. The Phoenix 17.8
  2. AirHead Arron 17.6
  3. Ebony Love 17.6
  4. Dana-Saurus Rex 17.3
  5. Ri Ri Rockstar 17.3
  6. Major Party 17.2
  7. The Canadian Tuxedo 17.1
  8. Pyramids On Mars 17.1
  9. Cha Cha Fierce 17.1
  10. Fingers McG-String 17.1

The song chosen by the audience was Toxicity by System of a Down.

Up first was Fingers McG-String – Scores: 5.5, 5.5, 5.7, 5.7, 5.7 -Total score both rounds: 34.0

Yes… he did. He drank syrup from a skate. How fucking Canadian is that!  The Canadian Tuxedo rocked hard. But it wasn’t enough to close the gap. We thank Blake for his amazing contributions as the champ and we can’t wait for his next creation in Air Guitar. His Scores: 5.8, 5.7, 5.6, 5.5. 5.7 for a combined total of 34.1.

Cha Cha Fierce gave the best performance of the second round leap-frogging from 7th to 3rd place with scores: 5.9, 5.5, 5.8, 5.8, 5.8 for a combined score of 34.5.

Hamilton’s Pyramids on Mars was back with scores: 5.6, 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.7 for a combined 34.2.

Saskatoon’s Major Party thrashed for scores: 5.5, 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.7 for a combined 34.3.

Ri Ri Rockstar took to the stage for the THIRD time and pulled out: 5.8, 5.5, 5.6, 5.5, 5.8 for a combined score of 34.2

Then came Dana-Saurus Rex who hair-whipped up scores: 5.8, 5.7, 5.7, 5.7, 5.8 for a combined: 34.5

Ebony Love, always a crowd favourite, shredded on his knees for scores: 5.6, 5.8, 5.7, 5.7, 5.7 for a combined score of 34.4

Kamloops champ AirHead Air-Ron was back after a strong first round with more undressing for scores: 5.9, 5.7, 5.6, 5.8, 5.8 for a combined: 34.9

Lastly was THE PHOENIX. Her dominant first round performance would be hard to overcome, and at this point the judges had made up their minds. She followed with another winning performance and received top scores:  6.0, 6.0, 6.0, 5.8, 6.0. for a combined: 35.8

The Final Standings:

  • The Phoenix 35.8 (1st)
  • AirHead Arron 34.9 (2nd)
  • Cha Cha Fierce 34.5 (tied 3rd)
  • Dana-Saurus Rex 34.4 (tied 3rd)
  • Ebony Love 34.4 (5th)
  • Major Party 34.3  (6th)
  • Ri Ri Rockstar 34.2 (Tied for 7th)
  • Pyramids On Mars 34.2 (Tied for 7th)
  • The Canadian Tuxedo 34.1 (9th)
  • Fingers McG-String 34.0 (10th)


After the prizes were awarded and the thank you were done… it was time for the group jam to Free Bird in honour of our American theme as well at Keep on Rocking In the Free World as per World Air guitar tradition. The saying goes… When you are holding an Air Guitar, you can’t be holding a gun. World Peace one rock song at a time.

To close the night – we had our favourite band from Ottawa play – THE HELLbros! We rocked out with them until 2am and celebrated a great night of doing good while rocking out. 

Hope you can join us next time. Thanks for a great season!  Good luck in Finland Phoenix!

One Response

  1. Mr. Bob

    There isn’t a show in Las Vegas that could compare to the dynamic, electrifying, stupendous acts that went on stage to perform for the opportunity of representing Canada at the World Finals. In fact, in my opinion, each and every performer showed that they were definitely entitled to be at the finals. What was once again proven is that Air Guitarists are a rare and unique species……we love each other, we support and cheer each other, we love what we do, and we do it for our Charity, Right to Play. A thunderous applause and standing ovation to Tim, Carlos, Mark, and other helpers who put together a flawless, most satisfying evening. See you next year? Thanks. Mr. Bob

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