PARIS, Ky — Folk singer and composer Michael Johnathon wanted to the help the families affected by the December tornadoes the best way he knows how. 

What You Need To Know

  • Folk singer Michael Johnathon is collecting musical instruments for families affected by the December tornadoes in Western Kentucky

  • Currier’s Music World in Richmond has been the collection point

  • Music instruments ranging from guitars, banjos, drums, sound boards are being given away for free

  • Distribution is happening in Mayfield, Dawson Springs and Owensboro

There are few sounds more fitting to hear in Bourbon County than a freshwater stream, just like the one flowing by Johnathon’s home. The melodic, subtle rumbling of water is accompanied well by Johnathon’s long-neck banjo.

Johnathon is a prolific folk singer, songwriter, composer and author. Over the last 12 weeks, he’s also been leading a fundraiser of sorts that has been incredibly successful. Jonathon was deeply moved by the destructive tornadoes that affected thousands of lives in Western Kentucky last December.

“Once daylight shined on Mayfield and Dawson Springs and we got to see exactly how extensive the damage was,” Johnathon said.

Soon after seeing images of the damaged caused by the EF-4 tornado Johnathon set in motion an idea to help replace musical instruments damaged and lost last year. Over 12 weeks ago, he posted a video on Facebook and social media asking for people’s help.

“From Paducah all the way to Danville … has been decimated by a horrible tornado. Those front porches are gone. The instruments those musicians played are gone, whether it’s school bands or banjo pickers, guitar players…” Johnathon said in the video. 

“And I knew that we can’t roof houses. We can’t rebuild water lines. We can’t erect electricity lines and stuff, but as musicians we know the power of music and the importance of America’s front porch.”

In the weeks since, musical donations have arrived in Kentucky from around the globe, tens-of-thousands of dollars' worth in guitars, banjos, drums, sound boards and more.

“Newport Folk Festival purchased ten brand new guitar with cases. We’ve collected instruments from Nashville to Washington D.C., from Europe to Australia,” Johnathon explained.

The instruments will be given away for free on March 18 in Mayfield and March 19 in Dawson Springs and Owensboro.

“I believe love is the greatest transaction of the arts. It makes everything work, no matter what it is. Concerts, records, painting, books. If you love it, it works.”

And just as easy as Johnathon’s music lands on the ear, he wants to put the instruments in the hands of Kentucky’s musicians.

“All you have to do is show up.”

Instrument pick-up times are:

Friday, March 18 from 5 - 8pm:

Graves County Public Library

 601 N 17th Street

 Mayfield, KY 42066

Saturday, March 19 from 12 noon-4pm:

West Dawson Music Venue

 3420 Huddleston Loop Rd

Dawson Springs, KY 42408

Saturday, March 19 from 6 - 8pm: 

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum

 311 W. Second St.

Owensboro, KY 42301