With a narrow third place finish in U.S. Air Guitar’s semifinal competition in Jackson, Ohio, native J.D. Frankland will be heading to the U.S. Air Guitar National Finals, held in Austin, Texas on August 6.
Founded in 2003, the U.S. Air Guitar championships have grown into a major national event that reaches more cities and gains new fans every year.
Frankland, 51, performs as “Andres SegoviAIR,” and is no stranger to the world of competitive air guitar.
“Way back in 2005, a co-worker at the company I was working for, found out about an air guitar competition,” explained Frankland. “He challenged me to go do it and I did. I got hooked. I’ve always loved music, but I’ve grown to appreciate it even more now. This has given me an outlet to express that love.”
In May, Frankland represented Nashville, Tennessee and championed in the qualifier, sending him on to semi-final competition. On June 24, Frankland trekked to Chicago to join a field of 15 other competitors, all vying for one of three slots which would send them on to the finals.
After two overtime “air-offs,” Frankland prevailed.
“My situation tends to be a little different from most other competitors,” said Frankland. “Where I differ from most of my competitors is, I am an amputee. I’m disabled, so I perform sitting down rather than doing calisthenics all over the stage, like you might expect. My range of motion is a little limited but there are certain things I can do as I’m pretending to hold this imaginary guitar. I move it around, I play it in different directions. When you think of air guitar, you think of Van Halen, ACDC, Aerosmith, Slayer, that kind of thing — not me. I perform to acoustic nuevo flamenco music, like Rodrigo y Gabriela. One organizer told me, ‘when everybody else makes a right, and you make a total left turn and it’s different and it stands out.’ I’m taking it as far as it will go.”
In the first round of the competition, competitors perform to a minute-long selection of their choice. The second round, reserved for ties and the Top 5 competitors, consists of a compulsory track. Meaning, the competitors do not know the selection and can only hear the track one time prior to taking the stage. Each competitor is judged on a 4.0 to 6.0 scale, and scores are awarded from three to five judges depending on the size of the competition.
If Frankland champions in the National Final competition, he will go on to represent the United States in the Air Guitar World Championship held annually in Oulu, Finland.
“This is my first time in the National championships, it’s going to be a little bit different,” explained Frankland. “I’m going to be going up against some very talented people, that I’ve competed against for the past three years. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve already exceeded my own expectations for the season. I won in Nashville and I was surprised. In Chicago, I was going in telling myself I’d be happy if I won third place and I got that. I’ll be happy if I can make the second round or the Top 5, in Nationals. I’m unique in this community and I’m hoping for the best.”
To find out more about the U.S. Air Guitar association, or for rules, regulations and how to compete, you can visit them online at www.usairguitar.com
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