Jonatha Brooke’s Busted Guitar

In this week’s show (#75) I tell the story about Jonatha Brooke’s busted guitar. I’m posting some photos and a blurb from her Facebook page about the incident. All content posted without permission so hopefully I won’t get sued. It will be removed upon request. Also, at the end is a video of Jonatha playing. If you know nothing about her, it would be a good idea to dive into her catalogue. She’s an excellent songwriter. One of the best.

From Jonatha Brooke’s Facebook Page:

People ask me all the time how I can stomach the anxiety of checking my guitar, a custom-made Olson, when I travel.
I tell them that at a certain point, I just gave up fighting gate agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers. The stress was just too much day to day, not knowing whether I’d have a full-blown meltdown or a happy dance when I boarded.
And so, the letting go began. And slowly, I became…. Ok…. With the uncertainty. Sure, my stomach lurches a bit each time I hand my guitar off to the TSA. But, each time it shows up intact in the next city, I celebrate.
I schlepp to sound check. Set up my little rig, revel in its sound. I play my heart out. And then I pack it up tenderly, tape the latches and bring it, with another day’s prayer, to the next city’s airport screeners.
And then. Wednesday happened. And ….I’m not….ok.
I understand that in the larger shitshow that is the world right now, my guitar is tiny beans.
In my tiny world, that guitar is all the beans.
It is the current that carries me.
It is the means to my every musical end.
The sound of that guitar is MY sound.
When James Olson made my guitar, (2003) he made the neck precisely for MY hands. He braced it and shaped it with MY favorite tuning in its DNA (C, G, D, G, B, D) with MY favorite strings in mind. He even threw in a few extra little fretboard doves as a kindness.
And so, Wednesday. The unthinkable. I opened my guitar case at sound check and my 20-year-old beloved was trashed. Someone at TSA had taken it out of the case and then, dropped it on its most vulnerable edge. They then put it back in the case, threw one of their standard little “TSA was here” notes in, and sent it on its way.
What hurts the most is – what has been churning in my belly for two nights now – is, how does someone do that and make no effort to take accountability. How does someone shatter a one-of-a kind instrument, and then leave it (SURPRISE!) for the poor owner to fight for her right to recourse. (And also fight to figure out how the show will go on!)
I begin the long slog today with TSA. Forms, proofs. All the things that suck about government agencies. I am bracing for months of fighting with them. I am bracing for never getting the money it will cost to fix or replace my guitar.
It is so very broken. I am so very heartbroken.
But, stubborn is in MY “bracing.” Perseverence is in MY DNA. I will get to the bottom of this. And I am hoping James Olson can nurse this masterpiece back to life. No matter how much it costs, or how long it takes.
Ps. Mill Valley shout out! I cannot thank Eric, Michael and Maria at the Sweetwater Music Hall enough. Michael (sound engineer) jumped right into action. Called Eric. Eric drove 200 miles like a crazy person to bring me a lovely Collings, (Maria, the manager, also married to Eric, threatened him with divorce if he didn’t get there in time)
And in the meantime, Eric and Michael located a Martin nearby so the show could go on.
Pps. Despite my nerves about the whole unfamiliar guitar thing, I had a GREAT time. Mill Valley, you sure brought the LOVE… I can’t thank you enough. And I can’t wait to see you again when my baby is “back in the circus!”