Instruments to Distribute to Kentucky Tornado Victims | Kentucky News


By KEITH LAWRENCE, messenger-investigator

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — When tornadoes roared through western Kentucky in December, Lexington-based Michael Johnathon took to his radio show, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, and asked people to donating musical instruments to replace those that families lost when their homes were destroyed.

The broadcast is heard on 537 radio stations from Australia to Ireland and on the US Forces Radio Network in 177 countries.

By February 15, Johnathon had collected nearly 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 these instruments to Owensboro – to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum – to distribute to those who have lost their instruments.

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It will also stop at Bowling Green, Mayfield and Dawson Springs.

“Every act of love takes a lot of sweat,” Johnathon said.

Some instruments are new.

Others have been tightened up, polished and prepared for new homes.

A family, Johnathon said, has lost a 150-year-old violin and a Martin guitar.

He found them an old violin and another Martin guitar.

The organs and pianos will go to schools and churches that have lost theirs, Johnathon said.

He said the instruments came from all over the United States, including Alaska.

Johnathon said he worked with music stores from Nashville to Washington, D.C. on the project.

He worked with Currier’s Music World in Richmond to have instruments restored.

Those requiring instruments should register at

People can also come to the March 19 cast even if they haven’t registered, Johnathon said.

“It’s all absolutely free,” he said. “A lot of people are still displaced by the tornado. We want to spread the word to them.

Acoustic instruments, he said, represent “America’s front porch music.”

And this project will restore that music, Johnathon said.

“I believe love is the greatest transaction in the arts,” he said. “It guides everything we do, everything we create and everything we feel.”

Erin Rouse, project manager for the Hall of Fame, said she expects a large group of people from across western Kentucky to be in the Hall of Fame for the cast.

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