NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS RE-CAP – Toronto’s Tuxedo for the Win!

Blake ‘The Canadian Tuxedo’ Johnston from Toronto is Your 2016 Canadian Air Guitar Champion!

Air Guitar Nationals 2016-269July 16th, 2016 – Toronto, Ontario.  The MOD club was set a fire last Saturday with twenty-one Air Guitarist heroes all seeking to be the Nations’ best. But alas, there could be only one… and that one was none other than Blake Johnston – The Canadian Tuxedo. He used every inch of his fanny pack carrying capacity and filled the stage with Airness unmatched in our 3 years of competition. He scored 4 perfect 6.0’s the final round and cemented his place as the king of Air Guitar in Canada. He unseated our 2015 champ – Jay ‘THRUST’ McNeely – who was no slouch – breathing fire, and stripping down to minimize air resistance.

Here is the summary of the night. Thanks to amazing photographs by Henry Vanderspek from from CultureSnap.

RightToPlay_2Huge thanks to all who participated, our venue (Mod Club), our volunteers, our audience, and our sponsors (Steam Whistle, Panago Pizza, Banger Bingo, Blitz Printing, Eatertainment, Second City, Hogtown Pub and Oysters, and The Bond Place Hotel).  All proceeds go to Right To Play – Looks like we should be close to $3000 donated for the season. Official number to be announced following some final accounting.

We were blessed with a all-star panel of judges with a variety of backgrounds to deliver the scores to find us our 2016 Champ. Our judges were: Entertainment reporter Rudy Blair, Adam Ricard of The Edge 102.1, Sara Elizabeth lead singer of Bloody Diamonds, Actor Suresh John of CBC’s Mr. D, and Kelly Dickinson and Ainslie Dowle of Right To Play Canada.

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Our host was Kat Curtis of Naked News... she rocked some fresh duds with styles inspired by The British Invasion – like Bowie and Geri Halliwell.

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Let’s get to the Re-Cap:


The night started with the final shot at entry into the championships – commonly known as the Dark Horse competition, after some last minute cancellations we had SIX performers try for the last 2 spots in the Championships.  They were (in order of performance): Tyler ‘Cat Fiday’ Gardener (Red Deer), Carlos ‘Hanzel the Manzel’ Mengual (Toronto), Matt ‘Champ Forrester’ Hallsworth (Toronto), Joel ‘Hand Solo’ Zak (Red Deer), James ‘AIRick Clapton’ Dalzell (Midland), and Darryl ‘DAZ’ Jones (Toronto).

First up was Cat Friday. Nimble and pouncing like a fierce feline, he came away with a combined score of 16.4 to earn him a spot in the championships.

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Hanzel the Manzel prayed to the rocks gods and they listened giving him the top scores in the Dark Horse round with a combined tally of 16.9. He moved on to the championships. Nice crotch shot…

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Champ Forrester came next and tried to make lemonade from Led Zeppelin’s Lemon Song. His performance was sweet, but the judges left him feeling sour with a combined score of 15.3. He would not move on.

Air Guitar Nationals 2016-37Next up was Joel ‘Hand Solo’ Zak from Red Deer, Alberta. This man is the epitome of good vibes and good times. He rocked the stage with glee and disrobed revealing some pretty dandy boxer trunks. We can’t wait to see him rip it up again next year in Alberta – His combined score: 16.0 – good for third place in the Dark Horse. A number that Hand Solo is getting a little tired of seeing as he’s come in 3rd for every competition he has ever entered.

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AIRick Clapton came next. Fresh from the Brexit debacle, AIRick had been self-medicating himself through the sorrow of the Leave vote and was happy to gain some clarity if only for one minute with a sterling performance of Layla. He lost his head at one point and launched his toupee into the sky, only to have the sky reply “We’ll take that”. His golden locks remained up in the rafters for the remainder of the show. Bare headed… Airick received the tally of 15.8 – good for 4th in the Dark Horse.

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The final Dark Horse competitor was none other than DAZ. With his signature pointing moves, and leather jacket that screams ’80’s rocker’ fashion, Daz did what he does best and gave the crowd a rollicking rendition of Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. The judges took it. Then gave him a tally of 15.1. Punks.

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While we got organized for the Championship round – We were thrilled to welcome the HELLBros! from Ottawa to blow the roof off the MOD Club. They were possibly the best part of the night. Peter, Christian, Matt and Josh put on a killer show and Culture Snap got these sick shots of them doing the real thing…

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We had 16 Air Guitarists in the running for the title this year from 4 different provinces and 7 different cities. Here are the heroes who gave us the biggest and best Air Guitar competition ever held on Canadian soil in the history of Air Guitar Canada.

We started much like we started the Dark Horse competition with Tyler ‘Cat Friday’ Gardner – drawing first spot in both rounds of competition, our Red Deer dynamo was not deterred and left it all out on the dancefloor. Forever to be called the Canadian Care Bear of Air Guitar, Cat Friday got us off to a wicked start. His score: 16.7. Not enough to move on, but good enough for 9th in Canada.

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Going 2nd was the heart and soul of Air Guitar Canada. Bob ‘Mr. Bob’ Wagner. While he’s shy about his status as our most cherished and most veteran of performers, Bob is quick to point out that his age and his IQ are basically the same: 72. But that his IQ is 72.8, which gives him just enough smarts to get up and Air Guitar for all of us. That .8 is his MOJO. He rocked out to his favorite – Elvis, doing ‘Johnny Be Good’. Judges gave him a 16.6. Not good enough to move on this year.

NEWS: We are going to run a campaign in the coming weeks to ensure that BOB makes it to Finland for the World Championships to compete in the Dark Horse for his chance at gracing the world stage. 50% of the finds will go to Right To Play. We need your help to get him there… so stay tuned on how to pitch in to make it happen. Here’s a sweet shot of our boy, Bob:

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Going 3rd was Mark ‘Whisky Pockets’ Slater who growled his way through a thrashed up version of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’. He scored: 16.9 landing him a spot in the final round.

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4th was Hanzel the Manzel fresh from the Dark Horse competition. He wowed the judges again with his highly reflective and flashy performance and scored just enough to land him a spot in the finals with score of: 16.8.

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5th spot in the order went to Kit ‘Kid Vicious’ Kolbegger who again proved that time, experience, serenity and super-stardom comes to those who shred. Check out the vibe on this shot… easily the most self-explanatory photo for why Air Guitar can mean something more than just the 1-minute of wild. They scored: 16.7 – tied for 9th and one spot out of the finals… but nothing short of inspiring.

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Up 6th was our first ever Saskatoon Champ – Natalie ‘Sweet Dee’ Scott. She started with a reading of Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary… straight into Van Halen’s ‘Hot for Teacher’. She crawled and bent her way around the stage delivering one of the sauciest performances yet of the competition. The Judges responded to her sweetness with the highest scores of the evening thus far with: 17.1. She would move on.

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Up 7th was Toronto native and Brave Soul success-story Adam ‘HOLYROD’ Holroyd. He choose by far the most technically and ‘guitar’ centric track called ‘Bad Horsie’ by Steve Vai. It was nothing short of awesome. He hit the notes with perfection and whipped his curly locks around like he was astride a bucking bronco at the Calgary stampede. Perhaps it was the time of the night, perhaps it was the stuffed horse animal that was protruding from his belt, but the judges didn’t see the sheer genius of his performance and he scored just shy of placing in the finals: 16.6. No bad scores. Just nothing high enough to propel him into the next round. We hope HOLYROD comes back to redeem himself next year.

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This is when the night starts to get a little punchy. Taking the stage in pure theatre was the Vice-Champion from Saskatoon – Brennan ‘Major Party’ Risling marched to the front in all bombast. He saluted the crowd in his best teacher/major-general voice and explained the ‘nature’ of Major Party… for like 5 minutes too long. The audience ate it up. The Judges wanted Air Guitar. and while he delivered the payload to the tune of ‘God Save The Queen’ by Sex Pistols, the judges court-marshaled him for his lengthy break in decorum. His scores: 15.5. The Audience quickly informed the judges of their displeasure with a volley of boos. My friends… that is Air Guitar for ya.

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Going 9th was our first-ever North Simcoe Air Guitar Champion – Bryan ‘Dr. Rock-Star Genius’ Piitz. He channeled his inner Lemmy from Motorhead and brought out a classic Air Guitar track by Extreme – ‘Play With Me’. Judges enjoyed, but didn’t quite give the scores to push him into the finals with a tally of: 16.7 – Good enough for tied for 9th in Canada.

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Going 10th was our eventual champion Blake ‘The Canadian Tuxedo’ Johnston who choose to go near the middle of the pack to take advantage of the peaks and valleys of scoring in a large field of competitors. His strategy and his performance paid off as he took the highest scores of the night thus far with a tally of 17.5. This put him in 2nd place for the Audience Choice round. Here are some choice shots of his performance of System of Down’s ‘Chop Suey’:

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Going 11th was our first-ever Red Deer Alberta champion Kaje ‘Sista Fista’ Annihilatrix who looked so amazing and transcended cool with her performance of rocked-up version of ‘All Along the Watchtower’. She had a tough act to follow but made the home team proud – the judges gave her a respectable: 16.4.

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12th up was our 2-time Quebec Air Guitar Champion Helene ‘HEY!len’ Laurin. She came out in army fatigues and created a 1-min message about war and world peace in her Air Guitar routine. She was technically pristine and aside from a slow end to a strong start (all part of the creation) her performance showed us why she’s the Montreal champ. The judges’ scores were good but they were not strong enough to earn a spot in the finals: 16.5. 5.5 across the board.

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Going 13th – Zandy ‘The Space Mime Continuum’ Pothier – one of three finalists from Ottawa. Zandy didn’t speak a word and wowed the crowd and judges alike with his full and complete performance of Protest The Hero. His score: 17.1

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14th – Our first-ever champion and competitor from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Darin ‘Ebony Love’ Mckay. One of our favorite performers of the night and a true show-man. He rocked out to ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ by The Darkness. He betrayed the dark side with a light up heart shaped belt that was by far the raddest and effective accessory of the night. He got some huge scores from our judges and found himself in the finals: 17.3. Good enough for 4th place moving into the finals.

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15th – two more performances and both from Ottawa. This was our Ottawa Champ – Gen ‘The Geek Girl’ Leblanc. She was one of our many female champions this year that totally owned her spot at the front of the pack. She got huge scores from the judges with her Baby Metal performance. SCORE: 17.4 – this put her in 3rd place moving into the final round.

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Last to perform and not one for being shy about adding spice to the stage was our 2015 Champ Jason ‘THRUST’ McNeely. He shoved every inch of himself into the tightest and shortest man-shorts we’ve ever seen and then breathed fire to Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’. His theatrics and sheer rock-awesomeness earned him the highest scores of the Championship round with tallies of 5.9, 5.9 & 5.9 for a total of : 17.7 and first place moving into the compulsory round.

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After all the dust had settled – we had 8 performers that would move on to the final compulsory round of performance. Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor’ won the Audience Choice vote and helped raise an additional $247 dollars for Right To Play through people boosting their ballots.  In order of performance: Hanzel The Manzel, Whisky Pockets, Sweet Dee, Space Mime Continuum, Ebony Love, The Geek Girl, The Canadian Tuxedo and THRUST would battle it out for final standings and who would represent the country in Finland for the 21st annual Air Guitar World Championships.

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Hanzel the Manzel pulled out all the tricks and delivered a rocketing performance moving his 8th place finish into a tie for 4th place after showering the audience in confetti and earning 5.9, 5.9 and 5.8 for a total combined score of 34.4.

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Whiskey Pockets who voted heavily for the Arctic Monkeys had a blast and gave us a boozey final performance and ended the night in a tie for 7th place in Canada.Air Guitar Nationals 2016-448

The Space Mime continued to push the boundaries and ventured into the audience with the first-ever mimed crowd surf. No mimes were harmed. He ended the night tied for 7th place. Air Guitar Nationals 2016-459

Sweet Dee – Showing that Saskatoon can mos def play… ended the night with a respectable 6th place in Canada. We can’t wait to see what comes out of Saskatchewan in 2017.Air Guitar Nationals 2016-469

Ebony Love, who was easily one of the best acts all night showered the crowd with roses and t-shirts. He won the hearts of the audience and came away tied for 4th place. We expect to see him back in 2017, unless Medicine Hat can find someone to unseat this love-bug of airness.Air Guitar Nationals 2016-490

The Geek-Girl suffered from technical mishaps, but still delivered and landed herself in a solid 3rd place – showing that Ottawa is where it is at for Air Guitar. Next year could be the year of Gen. We know how close she was this year.Air Guitar Nationals 2016-523

Air Guitar Nationals 2016-524 Then there was Blake’ The Canadian Tuxedo’ Johnston. His compulsory round performance showed the audience and judges what champions are made of. The furious energy, the intense eye contact, the hunger for the win and his ultimate surrender to the music elevated the performance into the stratosphere and earned him a set of perfect 6.0s. Air Guitar Nationals 2016-554 Air Guitar Nationals 2016-562

It was now up to THRUST to defend his title and bring out some scores to hold his initial lead. He smashed a guitar, a familiar move from his first championship run, and then dropped an elbow on the wreckage. He tore open his shirt and even slipped off his kilt to reveal a very skimpy set of briefs that at times appeared to disappear depending on the camera angle. Jay delivered a performance to be remembered, but could not overcome the huge scores that The Canadian Tuxedo garnered. He left the stage knowing that it was time for a new champion. But we know we haven’t seen the last of THRUST. Air Guitar Nationals 2016-570 Air Guitar Nationals 2016-579

The Canadian Tuxedo won the title, the love of the crowd and the respect of his fellow competitors… now he’s going to prepare himself to bring home the World Championship title in August.  Check in to for all the updates and news about Blake and his aspirations for world domination… as far as Air Guitar goes.

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Thanks to all the judges and competitors for making the 3rd Air Guitar Canada Championships one of the best ever held on Canadian soil.Air Guitar Nationals 2016-657


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