Last Minute Guitars / by Cyrus Moussavi

A good story and a special thank you: I’d like to send out a special thank you to Alex Hsu, Mark Ligon, and Rick (last name unknown). Last time I was in Kenya, the great Peter Akwabi made me promise to bring him a guitar. Those are easy promises to make when you’re about to board a plane, and I said “Sure, next time.”

My partner in these projects, Gordon Ashworth, had also promised a guitar to the Tanzanian musician, radio host, and researcher John Kitime.

Far too late in our preparation for our trip to Kenya and Tanzania, we admitted to ourselves that we were two guitars down. We couldn’t show up without them.

We checked a couple shops in Chicago but they were $$ and we’d used up our small budget on tickets and Malarone. I searched Craigslist and, in desperation, just started sending random messages asking if people would consider donating their guitars. The first person I wrote to wrote back saying:

Cool project.  I would be happy to give you the guitar. I googled your name and you seem like a good person.  I live in Bucktown. 

Well shit! I sent a few more messages, and someone else wrote back to say:

Hi Cyrus -- Yep, the guitar is still available. And I'd be more than happy to donate the guitar, however. I do have a request, I organize a group called The Chicago Materos where we meet each Saturday to talk and share about topics ranging from culture, travels, to politics... while sipping on Yerba Mate.

Would you be willing to join us this Saturday and share some of your traveling / filming stories?

So that Saturday I took the bus to Bucktown where Rick gave me a nice Fender, then to Fullerton where a musician named Mark gave me a guitar case, and then to Lincoln Park where I met Alex and the Chicago Materos, a group of Mate-loving people from all over the country and world, and talked about music. A beautiful day. Carried those instruments home on the bus, off to O’Hare, onboard to Dar Es Salaam, on to Kenya, and all the way across the country via bus to Kisumu and on to the countryside. They were much appreciated. Thank you Alex, Rick, and Mark for giving me some faith in humanity!! And if you are a lover of Yerba Mate in the Chicagoland area, be sure to check out Alex’s new venture, Matee, here.