John Butler (Australian Guitar #71)

John Butler. Photo courtesy of Benoît Derrier.

I’ve been fortunate enough to interview John Butler several times, and this feature excerpt from Australian Guitar #71 finds the guitarist excited to have taken possession of a pre-war Dobro, which had come into his life in the most unlikely fashion…

A recent live performance on breakfast television attracted a very special new fan. After his performance, Butler was informed that someone had called the station to say they had an old guitar that he might be interested in. When John made contact, he discovered the woman had a pre-war Dobro that her mother had played, and after seeing him on television playing slide guitar in a similar fashion, thought he might appreciate the instrument.

Photo courtesy of Benoît Derrier.

“Yeah, it was quite special. It was freaky, I was like, ‘I’ve been waiting for this story, I have heard other people tell me about this, now it’s happening to me’. I sent it back with my manager, because I had to go overseas from Sydney, so I haven’t seen it yet. I’m actually hanging out to see it and put some new strings on it, because the strings were horribly old, but it’s beautiful.

“I think somebody once told me that in the Irish language, there is no word for mine, things are just with you for a certain amount of time, and I really feel that way about instruments, you know. I feel like I’m a bit of a keeper of certain pieces, and that one day, they’re definitely going to outlive me, and hopefully go on to sing with a lot more people. I feel honoured to be the keeper of this beautiful instrument that meant so much to the lady who gave it to me. It’s like taking a child on, knowing the parents couldn’t care for it anymore, and it’s good to be able to go, ’it’s going to be safe with me, and not only is it going to be safe, it’s going to be loved, it’s going to be appreciated.’ I’m the perfect person to appreciate your Dobro.”

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