ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Men of Steel tug on their steel strings
By Ryan Pratt
More talented than those banal superman clones and less promiscuous than the
porno website of the same name, Men of Steel may just be the finest guitar
players you’ve never heard.
Comprised of Italian sensation Beppe Gambetta, American music legend Dan Crary,
Scotland’s famous Tony McManus and Canada’s own Don Ross, Men of
Steel not only represent a variety of countries, but also the very best in
steel-stringed guitar playing.
“It’s really a guitar variety show,” Ross explains with
excitement. “[We are] more focused on collaborations and combining styles
than lots of solos.” Having returned to Canada following a string of
successful shows in California, Ross is weary but inspired by the positive
crowd responses throughout their current North American tour.
Each guitarist brings a unique outlook from their respective countries, combining
the styles of folk, jazz, classical and Celtic music. “There is some
modern influences in how I play, whereas the other three tend to prefer traditional
music,” Ross admits, adding he finds his niche among such eclectic musicians.
While he feels jaded by the hollowness of the Top 40, the world-renowned guitarist
names Dave Matthews and Phish as inspiring redeemers of modern rock.
Formed just one year ago, Men of Steel have toured extensively throughout
Europe, receiving praise from critics and audiences alike. As there is a strong
fan base for each individual musician (all of who maintain solo careers), fans
from international guitar circles have gathered to see a rare concert event.
Of course, such international success is accompanied by its share of touring
chaos. “Since we are all on different airlines from different countries,
there is always a question of who will get there first,” Ross laughs,
noting the instruments themselves seem to take the majority of the travelling
damage. The most recent incident left a hole in the back of Ross’ new
Alongside their performances, Men of Steel have also become notorious for
their guitar workshops. “Teaching guitar is rewarding, but difficult,” Ross
says, noting the experience has introduced many friends and fans to the band.
While these workshops spread the band’s love of the steel string to their
fans over the course of an intimate afternoon, he is quick to point out that
it doesn’t compare to his true passion.
“Performance on stage is like speeding down the highway in a stolen
car,” he describes. “That kind of exhilaration can’t be found
So what kind of advice does the internationally-distinguished musician offer
aspiring guitarists and performers? “Two things: Be open-minded. A good
listener [of music] will be a good player.
“Secondly, believe in what you do. Even if your style isn’t Top
40, eventually you’ll find people who want to listen. The people who
are into this for the long haul are the ones who will indent music culture,” he
Before their next string of summer festivals in Europe, Ross and his comrades
plan to record their upcoming Toronto show while working on new songs for a
possible disc release. With all of the attention the band has received in its
year of existence, it’s fair to say that the musical career advice of
Don Ross is legitimate.
Men of Steel will be playing Centennial Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Call 672-1967.