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Old 06-20-2008, 08:16 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
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Default Canadiana Guitar

A guitar built by luthier George Rizsanyi in Nova Scotia - it is made from wood and materials from items of importance throughout Canadian history. Wonder what it would sound like in Gord's hands?

Original article source & short video of guitar;

* * *

June 20, 2008

Guitar made up of 64 bits of Canadiana is a national treasure that deserves more harmonious treatment

Jowi Taylor, 46, is feeling a bit plucked these days.

Shouldn't be.

Jowi Taylor should be a-pickin' and a-grinnin'.

After all, there's his famous Six String Nation guitar newly immortalized larger than life on a wall of Lee's Palace, the legendary Bloor St. club.

Plus, Canada Day is near. Jowi (say Joey) and his guitar will again enthral throngs on Parliament Hill, where they debuted two years ago.

I saw him last week outside a Kensington Market school. He strolled up and popped open a battered yellow case. A swarm of kids fawned over his guitar.

It sure is one helluva gee-tar.

It is built of our country: Pieces of Pierre Trudeau's paddle, Paul Henderson's '72 stick, Louis Riel's school, the great Golden Spruce of B.C., Lawren Harris' studio, Nancy Greene's skis.

In all, 64 bits of Canadiana collected by Jowi after he was inspired by the 1995 Quebec referendum.

Even the case is into it. There's fabric from Don Cherry's pants and a Pierre Berton bowtie.

A national treasure, that guitar.

So where's the national treasury?

Jowi Taylor is $80,000 in debt and worn out from lugging it coast to coast so thousands of us can see it, touch it, play it.

Seventy thousand klicks he has roamed.

"I am stunned," he says, "by the disconnect between the response of musicians and regular folks and the response of government and corporations.

"For people, there's a simple, instant gratification. They think it's going to be behind glass, or handled with white gloves.

"But no, no, this guitar is meant to be touched."

I strum In The Pines, an American folk song and the extent of my repertoire.

Jowi is right. The guitar is warm, solid. Canadian.

Maybe it's the inlay of the oldest rock in the world, from Great Bear Lake.

Or the piece of Pier 21.

Or the section of Bluenose II's deck in the neck.

Jowi, which means "buffalo" in Uganda, where he was born, can manage a chord or two of Bo Diddley.

But some great pickers have cradled Six String Nation, from Colin James to Ron Sexsmith to Madagascar Slim.

Bureaucrats in Ottawa and corporate Canada as always sing in a different key than the rest of us.

A few firms, including RIM and Aeroplan, helped get the guitar built, in luthier George Rizsanyi's workshop in Nova Scotia.

But it's just a guitar if it stays put. The real art is in how it meets and charms us, in the myriad corners of Canada. And that means travel.

Well, Air Canada even charges him for the extra baggage.

Taylor tells me if he makes it past reception desks in pursuit of sponsors or government grants, the suits "love the idea, pat my back and show me the door."

Larger events usually pay a fee, but it barely covers.

So, Jowi is tapped out. And tired. He has a regular job, a CBC radio host.

"It's starting to feel like a missed opportunity. This guitar is a kind of love letter to Canada."

And he will keep it on the road, come what may.

"I go to a festival or a concert or a school and there's this incredible glow and people cry over it and it's too sweet, too beautiful.

"I can't give up on this."

Behind us, the guitar soars in spray paint up a wall once sullied by taggers.

It's the work of graffiti artists Kedre "Bubblz" Browne and Jessey "Phade" Pacho.

I've written about them a couple of times.

Funny, Bubblz and Phade forgot the gold dash of Rocket Richard's Stanley Cup ring halfway up the guitar neck. Maybe they're Leafs fans.

No matter. Six String Nation is a gem.

And the sound? At a fundraiser in a Guelph pizza joint, 25 local musicians took a turn.

A phenom named Kevin Breit was the last.

They tell me he hit a note so perfectly, as clear as a loon's cry, that the world stopped.

What a shame if that guitar's days of travelling this land are numbered.
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