Thursday night The Whale Guitar returned from an exciting week at The Bowery Ballroom in NYC celebrating the phenomenal rock trio Dinosaur Jr.’s 30th Anniversary and legendary guitarist J Mascis’ 50th Birthday! Here's how it all happened!
Each night Dinosaur Jr. played through their entire first album for their first set to celebrate the 30 years since its release! Note The Whale Guitar on the stage to the left by a zombie prop. We were invited by 7s Management's Kim Ross to bring The Whale Guitar to be displayed on the stage while they played. How did that happen? The story is below in this first blog post! Subsequent posts will tell about each night, how the guitar was made, and more!
The back panel of the guitar is now covered with signatures of rock idols including Henry Rollins of Black Flag (and announcer of each night’s show), second set guests Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü, Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Don Flemming of Velvet Monkeys, Jenny Lewis, Thalia Zedec and Dinosaur Jr’s bassist Low Barlow and drummer Murph!
Guitarist J Mascis’ signature was already on the guitar, in an honorary spot on the front fin. It’s a giant scrawled J looking like a self-drawn fish hook tattoo - perfect for a whale! J's signature had been there since July, when J played it and signed it from a backstage tent at Newport Folk Festival.
This occurred thanks to my friends Bill Bartholomew and Gabriella Rassi of the band Silverteeth, (photo below)who were volunteers at Newport Folk Fest. Bill had invited me to bring the guitar for him to play at the family tent. So I had the guitar with me when my husband and I went to see J Mascis play. Lucky for us, both Bill and Gabriela were working his show keeping aisles clear.
When J's performance ended, Gabriela got permission from J’s manager to go backstage and ask him and Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo Amarante of Los Hermanos if they would play and sign The Whale Guitar. Both J and Rodrigo said yes!
Gabriela, who was born in Brazil, is a big fan of Rodrigo Amarante and was thrilled to see him play it and chat with him.
And I was delighted to see J grin when he caught sight of The Whale Guitar. He listened as I explained the project’s mission to protect whales and the ocean, and let me put the guitar on him. Then he played it through a succession of riffs, smiled, and said “sounds good!”
We posted the photos and video of J playing The Whale Guitar on our Instagram, FB and twitter, and were thrilled when J retweeted it and posted it on his own FaceBook page. This caught the attention of his management agency 7s’ Kim Ross. She began following The Whale Guitar and liked our mission, which is to raise awareness and funds on behalf of whales and the ocean environment, and eventually auction the guitar with proceeds to go to Dr. Roger Payne’s Ocean Alliance.
Around Thanksgiving Kim contacted me. She shared that she was a strong advocate for whales/ocean wild life whose main career is in the music industry as a day-to-day manager at the agency that manages J Mascis. She wanted to get involved and asked how she could help and participate! I We chatted on the phone, discovered we were both from Ohio and hit it off. She told me that J Mascis also loves whales, and in no time, Kim had arranged an invitation to bring the guitar to the Anniversary shows to display on stage Thursday and Friday nights. I was told that I would receive two VIP passes each night, could bring promotional materials about the guitar and Ocean Alliance, and was asked to be unobtrusive to the other VIP guests. There was no guarantee the guitar would be played during the show, but I thought of the invite as an affirmation of the project and a handshake with an interested manager and advocate, and hopefully the beginning of a productive relationship. As a fledgling guitarist, I understood that performers prefer to play their most tried and true instruments for important shows. And after all, this wasn’t MY 30th anniversary or 50th birthday - these shows should rightly be all about celebrating Dinosaur Jr. and J Mascis! At least the guitar would be onstage and visible and I would get to see two performances of this amazing trio and surprise guests with VIP passes for two nights and advocate for our cause – how could I say no?
I talked with my son, Mike Dotson, and his girlfriend Evie Falci (photo above), an artist couple living in Brooklyn who were visiting for Thanksgiving and asked if I could stay with them. They said yes, and before long I was packing my bags and my car – guitar, stand, strap, busker amp, cables, logo t-shirts, business cards, project stickers, and two changes of clothes.
Thus began a two night journey that evolved into an epic one week rock and roll tour for
The Whale Guitar Project!
We will be posting photos and videos of each day on this blog, one day at a time! We hope you’ll follow - each day will be accompanied by stories about the making of the guitar and about our mission - the protection of whales and the marine environment with Dr. Roger Payne’s Ocean Alliance. Please visit them at www.whale.org
BTW the holidays are approaching fast! Are you looking for a gift that will delight a child’s imagination? Or something for that someone who already has everything? If so, please consider Ocean Alliance’s Adopt-A-Whale program! https://www.whale.org/whale-adoptions
You will be sent an adoption certificate and a photo of the whale you have adopted! And you will know your money is going far to do good work! The Whale Guitar Project has adopted a humpback named “Etch-A-Sketch”! Such a perfect name don’t you think?
That's all for now! Check back tomorrow for highlights of Night 1 and the story of how this guitar came to be!
For the whales!