Date:May 26, 2018
Venue:The High Watt
Written by Witness (Whit Hubner)
The 2018 US Air Guitar Championships in Nashville, TN will not be forgotten anytime soon. With the local news in the house covering the event and eight competitors ready to rock, we opened the doors of the High Watt at 7 p.m.
As the crowd slowly filed in, many grabbed a beverage from Howard from Old Glory Vodka, one of our sponsors, or met our hostess for the evening Schatzi Love. It was about this time that I realized that the sun was not going to go down until at least 8:20, so I put word out that we would be starting late. It’s something I always hate to do, but I wanted it to be fair to all.
I also shared that we were looking for folks who wanted to sign up as walk-on competitors. Van Dammage (Luke Sevcik) went through the audience with pre-printed song lists for folks to peruse. With follow-up assistance from Giant Junk (Michael Vucovich), this proved to be a highly successful strategy for adding contestants. We snagged five walk-ons from the crowd bringing our total competitor count to a lucky number 13.
The show finally kicked off right before 9. It started with a video and was followed up by a performance from myself, White Flame (Adrianna Lombardo), Romeo Dance Cheetah (Matthew Cornelison), Mom Jeans Jeanie (Nicole Sevcik) and Van Dammage. The mix of country music with Jack White, Pat Benatar and AC/DC was a hit with the crowd and got them nice and close to the stage for the real competition.
After the pre-show performance I introduced the judges: White Flame, Romeo Dance Cheetah and Mom Jeans Jeanie along with radio personality Candy Gunn and Blackfoot Gypsies drummer Zach Murphy. Zach was new to air guitar but certainly not the rock and roll having toured Europe with the Darkness this past winter and backing the rowdy boys of BFG for 8+ years.
After a brief fake out performance by a poorly undercover Van Dammage, the show kicked off with one of our walk-ons Phat Lip kicking off the night with AC/DC. Phat was a full of energy to start the night, but his inexperienced showed in the so-so scores.
Next up was our Airshton (Ashton Barnes), another walk-on. Her performance to “Barracuda” immediately upped the game. The judges loved it and she got high marks for her performance.
Then came local veteran Shorty McShred (Brain Wood). With the most experience combined with determination to win, he was an easy favorite to win the whole thing. In his first round, he came out as Darth Vader and rocked some sweet Star Wars themed guitar licks. The judges loved it and the scores were high.
Coming out with a book hiding a liquor bottle and wearing priest robes that were quickly ripped off to reveal purple sequin booty shorts and purple furry leggings, Jewish Priest (Robert Sandberg)clearly came to party. With a solid performance and a lot of fun, Priest was put in third place.
Up next was Nashville's favorite wreck, Mama Nash Trash (Chloe Green). Typically, Mama Nash is true to her name putting in a delightfully inebriated performance. But this year she really brought the goods. After 4 years of seeing her perform, this was my favorite I had ever seen from her.
Following Mama Nash was the founder of Nashville Air Guitar. The man who produced the first air guitar contest I was ever involved in. The one and only Giant Junk. He put on the greatest performance I have ever seen him do with a crazy strong performance of Pantera's “Fucking Hostile.” Everyone in the room could feel the weight of his guitar including the judges who scored him high.
Next up was second year competitor Fridrich Von AIRenberg -Crown Prince of AIR(Redacted). With big hair, blue coat tails and many Medals of Honor displayed, he would certainly be appreciated by USAG veteran the Marquis. This royal brought it and brought it hard and the judges loved it.
Visiting Nashville from Washington, DC, no one knew what to expect with walk-on Lacey Balls (Elain Colwell) who signed up after seeing an ad in the paper. She came on stage with her purse looking somewhat confused.
Then Miss Balls placed her purse by the monitor, strapped on her invisible guitar and put her finger in the air. Her raw air talent was undeniable and she made Neal Schon proud with her version of Journey's “Anyway You Want It”. She had moves. She had grooves. She was rocking. The crowd and the judges all loved every second.
Halftime came and myself, Van Dammage, White Flame and Romeo Dance Cheetah took the stage for a performance of Cheetah’s “Air Guitar Song”. Cheetah sung it live while we were his AIR band.
That was followed up by a super pregnant Mom Jeans Jeanie, recreating her 2017 US National Championship winning performance. Pregnancy surely didn’t slow this champ down, though we were all hoping we wouldn’t have to assist in an on-stage delivery (though what a way to be born).
Finally, it was time to announce the second round competitors (in reverse order): AIRshton, Frederick Von AIRenberg, Giant Junk, Lacy Balls and Shorty McShred.
The track was “Drones” by Muse— a complicated, hard second round track for any competitor, but they were all game and they all gave it hell.
AIRshton started the second round. The performance was good but the edit was a little above her skill-set. Frederick Von AIRenberg was next, but unfortunately, he had imbibed entirely too much ale and moonshine and was completely snockered. His performance suffered accordingly.
Giant Junk was next and gave it hell. He really was on his game all night and I thought he had a chance to take it all.
That was until Lacey Balls hit the stage. I am now a huge fan of Miss Balls. It's been a while since I have witnessed a walk-on perform at such a high level. She looks like a grade school teacher, but damn can she flat-out rock. Could a total newbie win the Nashville title?
Not when Shorty McShred gets to answer. He had heard the song many times and was prepared to bring the Rock. He was the most experienced and prepared air guitarist in the competition and it showed. With glowing fingers, big black afro, a bedazzled blue sport coat and crazy moves, it was a close call, but not close enough for an air off.
With a three-point difference between them, Shorty McShred beat out Lacey Balls for first place meaning he’ll be representing Nashville in the US Air Guitar National Championshipson in Brooklyn, NYC on August 4, 2018.
With approximately 200 people in attendance and at least two thirds of that sticking around throughout the entire competition the 2018 US Air Guitar Championships — Nashville was a solid success.
Final Second Round Standings:
1) Shorty McShred - 35.2 (Brian Wood)
2) Lacey Balls - 34.7 (Elain Colwell)
3) Giant Junk - 33.8 (Michael Vucovich)
4) Friedrich Von Airenberg - The Crown prince of AIR (Redacted) - 33.6
5) Airshton (Ashton Barnes) - 33.1
Host:Witness (Whit Hubner)
Organizer:Witness & Van Dammage
Judges:Candy Gunn, Zack Murphy, Romeo Dance Cheetah, Mom Jeans Jeanie, White Flame
Photos: Marty Cavanaugh