Jonas Guitars Boulder, Co.

The Peace Guitar

THE STORY ABOUT MICHAEL FRANTI AND THE PEACE GUITAR

by on Mar.14, 2009, under Handmade Acoustic Guitars, The Peace Guitar

peacebuildguitarAt the time the Iraq war started getting in full swing, I was one of those guys who was going to all the peace marches that I could find. Then one morning I tuned in on “Democracy Now” on my radio. Here was Michael Franti being interviewed by Amy Goodman. I had never heard of this guy, Michael Franti.

He was talking about his adventure in Baghdad and singing with his guitar for the local people in the streets. These were the same people who were about to be bombed by the “US shock and AWE Invasion”. How brave was that!

This was such a compelling story! Then he started singing in the studio “You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb it into peace”.

Wow! Immediately , I felt some deep gut connection, but I was not sure what that all meant at the time.

Back at the shop I was building guitars. About a year went by, and I was wondering what to do with that maple double cut-away that had been hanging unfinished on the wall for a while.

Somehow it hit me! Yeah ” a peace guitar ” that’s it! My vision and creative energy started to come back about Michael Franti and his Bagdad stories.

I was sleeping outside on my deck at the time and I got seriously sick and find out that I had West Nile Virus the second case in Boulder County that year

I’m not recommending this to anyone, I was flat on my back which seemed like an eternity and this was no fun. I thought at times that I may have to go to the other side of the fence, after seven weeks of this, something told me that I had to get back to the shop and finish Micheal Franti’s peace guitar.

When I finally felt a bit more human and alive, … that’s exactly what I did. It took me still many, many hours day and night of inlay and finish work to get that guitar to where I wanted it.

Then, I finally started to realize my next challenge, somehow I had to get this beautiful instrument to Michael right away.

peacebuildguitar2I knew he was coming to Denver for a concert in December but that wasn’t going to work because the paint was still drying. Next concert would be Breckenridge Colorado Feb 3 06. That was the date that my wife, Cindy, my granddaughter and I traveled by car from Boulder to Breckenridge, over the Loveland pass, and as luck would have it, it was the coldest night of the year. We braved a whitewash snow storm, but I felt OK with the guitar in a sleeping bag on the back seat. I was on a mission.

It took hours of nerve racking driving. We finely got there. Michael Franti and Spearhead was going to play in a huge tent. I had talked to Franti’s management before this over the net with my intention. They knew I was coming nevertheless. Little did we know that we were still in for some real challenges.

I walked up the gate and no way were we going to get in the tent through the security no matter who’s guitar I had with me.

At this time it was still a blizzard and we grew more cold and discouraged and the granddaughter of course had only a light pair of shoes on her feet and was complaining her heart out.

I decided to call Franti’s management, and was surprised I was talking to someone on a sunny road in Australia that very day. She let me know that it was all lined up and that she would take care of it at that moment. 20 minutes later we were handed some back stage tickets for the after party at 11 pm, 2 hours from now at the hotel.

It was 9 pm we had two hours to kill so through the bitter cold we were trying to find a warm whiskey bar but were quickly kicked out because we had a minor with us. Anyway we got to the party , tired in the deep snow with all the clothes we could find in the car , with the guitar still wrapped up in the sleeping bag. At that point we seriously had begun doubting if this was worth all the trouble we had gone through so far and perhaps we should just turn around and go home. We got finally through the security at the party. The band spearhead loved the guitar at first site and were really amazed at the looks and quality of the instrument, itself. It was an instant hit and I was glowing from all of the complements, but wait a minute, No Michael!

Well come to find out at his time after one clock Michael was so tired and had already gone to bed. I guess we couldn’t blame him, we were plane exhausted too. However we felt really comfortable and welcomed by the band and management which was a nice tone changer after what we’d just gone through. I literally could have crashed (at ) the party

We decided to leave the guitar with Tony the guitar tech. I felt instantly like brothers and I knew that he would defend and protect this thing with his life and he made darn sure that Michael would be playing the Peace guitar first thing in the morning.

After all this we felt like we finally succeeded, although it was not exactly what we’d expected. On the same snowy road back, the only thing I could think of was that I wished I was home in my bed in Boulder.

That summer my wife and I got to meet Michael and Spearhead at Red Rocks. It was an amazing show that blew me away when Michael in the middle of the crowd was howling and surrounded with 10,000 fans under the full moon. We were at a party!

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