From fiddles to pianos, radio show has collected more than 1,000 Instruments to be distributed to Kentucky tornado victims.
Published 6:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2022
When tornadoes roared across western Kentucky in December, Lexington-based Michael Johnathon went on his radio show, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, and asked people to donate musical instruments to replace those that families lost when their homes were destroyed.
The show is heard on 537 radio stations from Australia to Ireland and on American Forces Radio Network in 177 countries.
As of Feb. 15, Johnathon had collected close to 1,000 instruments, including pianos, organs, cellos, drums, guitars, banjos, fiddles and mandolins.
On March 19, from 6 to 8 p.m., he will bring several hundred of those instruments to Owensboro — to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum — to distribute to those who lost their instruments.
He’ll also be stopping in Bowling Green, Mayfield and Dawson Springs.
“Every act of love takes a lot of sweat,” Johnathon said.
Some of the instruments are new.
Others have been restrung, polished and made ready for new homes.
One family, Johnathon said, lost a 150-year-old fiddle and a Martin guitar.
He’s found an old fiddle and another Martin guitar for them.
The organs and pianos will go to schools and churches that lost theirs, Johnathon said.
He said the instruments came from all over the United States, including Alaska.
Johnathon said he’s worked with music stores from Nashville to Washington, D.C., on the project.
He worked with Currier’s Music World in Richmond to get instruments restored.
People in need of instruments should register at www.woodsongs.com/tornado/.
People can also come to the distribution on March 19 even if they haven’t registered, Johnathon said.
“This is all absolutely free,” he said. “A lot of people are still displaced from the tornado. We want to get the word to them.”
The acoustic instruments, he said, represent “the music of America’s front porch.”
And this project will restore that music, Johnathon said.
“I believe that love is the greatest transaction of the arts,” he said. “It drives everything we do, everything we create and everything we feel.”
Erin Rouse, project manager for the Hall of Fame, said she’s expecting a large group of people from across western Kentucky to be at the Hall of Fame for the distribution.