I guess when you’re a living legend of fingerstyle guitar, you don’t necessarily introduce yourself by saying, “Hi, I’m Don Ross, living legend of fingerstyle guitar.” But, after almost 30 years of touring, having recorded well over 20 records and establishing an international fanbase, Don Ross has certainly earned the title of living legend. Don’s also earned a unique perspective on the ever-evolving music business, the world of the guitar, and life on the road. He agreed to share some of his insights with us, while he was on tour in Germany.
We discuss Don’s early years in Montreal, and his discovery of the music of Bruce Cockburn. I mention how Don’s approach to the guitar never strays too far from vocal music, and that his work as a collaborator is some of my favorite material in his catalogue, including his work with Brooke Miller and Calum Graham. Don went to York University for composition, and met composers like John Cage, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis. After a detour in seminary, Don started his recording career in the late 80’s, and his early work was deeply influenced by Michael Hedges.
Don has successfully maneuvered a period of unprecedented change in the recording industry. I asked Don about his years on major labels versus his now 10-year relationship with Candyrat Records, and the influence the YouTube audience has had on his career and others (most notably, Andy McKee).
“Cicadas at the Equinox” from Vapor Trail from a Paper Plane, written and performed by Matthew Cochran
“Klimbim” from PS 15, written and performed by Don Ross
“Foxglove” from Night Vision, written and performed by Bruce Cockburn
“You’ve Got My Attention” from Shake It Off, written and performed by Brooke Miller
“Indivisible” from 12:34, written and performed by Calum Graham and Don Ross
Mycenae Alpha, written and performed by Iannis Xenakis
“Loaded. Leather. Moonroof.” From Huron Street, written and performed by Don Ross
“Aerial Boundaries” from Beyond Boundaries, written and performed by Michael Hedges
“Michael, Michael, Michael” from PS 15, written and performed by Don Ross
“Catherine” from Bearing Straight, written and performed by Don Ross
“The Root Witch” from Taproot, written and performed by Michael Hedges
“First Ride” from Passion Session, written and performed by Don Ross
“Rockbarra” from Music for Vacuuming, written and performed by Don Ross
“Drifting” from Art of Motion, written and performed by Andy McKee
“Berkeley Springs” from PS 15, written by David Essig, performed by Don Ross
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, written by J.S. Bach, performed by Don Ross
Thanks to this week’s guest Don Ross for sharing his insights, his humor and his music. G2E’s research team is Ciyadh Wells and Cole Hankins.