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John Doan’s 2014 Southeast Asia Tour Part 1

I returned to Xi’an China for the second time this year and was received at the airport by the concert promoter Yilin Wang and our guitarist friend Adam Varjavandi.

1. John Doan Welcomed at Xian Airport


There is nothing quite like being greeted with a bouquet of flowers (even though I had to fight to get into the picture).

2. Deirdra flowers Airport





I gave them to my beautiful wife Deirdra who in turn …




3. Rong Rong and Niece



… gave them to Adam’s beautiful wife Rongrong and very sweet niece.





By way of introductions, Xi’an is a ancient city.  It began around 4000 BC and became the end of the famous Silk Road that connected with trading partners in the Middle East and beyond. See below how the city grew from models of how the city looked then, later in 200 BC and then in 1000 AD.

Today it is a bustling city of 8 million people (almost twice the population of the entire state of Oregon I call home!)

7. Xi'an 2014 AD

8. Mural 600 AD Oxen cart


The city has always been a place busy with business as seen in this mural from 600 AD …



9. Xian Heavy load



… to his ancestor living today pulling a load. Rather than hitch a ride with this guy …


10. Xian local cab




… we decided to take a local three wheel cab.

11. Deirdra and Sweetie Pie

We headed to Xi’an’s Old Town where the streets were teaming with food booths, tea shops, and loads of people.

12. Xian Oldtown

You never know what you will see while walking the cobble stoned streets.  We ended up at a Shadow Puppet Show that had been performed in this area for hundreds of years.

12.4. Xian Shadow Puppet

12.5. Xian Subway

13. Xian Couple call for diapers



We dove into a sea of humanity when we took the subway across town.







The people in Xi’an are very modern in many ways.  This couple just located on their cell phone where the nearest diapers were for sale (yikes!) Fortunately, we got off at the next stop.



14. xian chairs street




While walking the back streets we were often surprised by moments of beauty whether it be chairs stacked outside a home restaurant …


14.5. Xian broom street 1




… hand made whisk brooms set down during a work break ….


15. Xian Bridge




… or a foot bridge shaded by a willow tree.


15. Xian Trees Street

Even if you looked up there was always some interesting pattern of tree branches …

16. Xian Telephone Wires



or creative entangling of telephone wires.




At one of Xi’an’s many museums I learned that the people here have always been fond of music.  Here are some ancient bells recently excavated along with an old relief showing someone playing them.

16.3 Silk w Hearts Embroidery 600 AD



People here were also known for their cloth making, fine embroidery work (note the heart design from 600 AD!) …


16.4 Xian clothes making to order




… to the making of clothing that they still do to order in the streets.


16.5 Xian John Doan composes


Back at Adam and Rongrong’s I try to get in some practicing for the concerts and improvise a few musical sketches inspired by the day’s adventure into my iPad to later develop for a future recording about Asia.

17. Xian City Radio Interview


19. Xian Concert John Doan swirl lights


The next day I am treated like a rock star being interviewed at the Xi’an Television and Broadcasting Center (with potentially millions tuning in!).




We then rushed off to the Xi’an International Conference Center whose thousand seat hall had been sold out for my concert!




19.5 John Doan Back Stage Xian

Back stage the television cameras are getting into position, our Master of Ceremonies reviews his opening remarks, while I am trying to remember just what I am going to play.

20. Xian John Doan Concert Introductions

My hosts welcome me on stage and ask me questions while Yilin Wang translates my answers. Even though I do not speak any Chinese once I started playing I felt like we understood each other very well through the language of music.

21. Xian Concert John Doan Signs CD's

After the show people lined up through the hall and had me sign CD’s and programs and have pictures taken with them.  It was such a wonderful feeling to have connected heart to heart with so many people both old and young.

23. Xian Concert John Doan with Children

23.5 John Doan Adam Harp Guitar apart



Adam helped me to take my travel harp guitar apart only to be put back together at another sold out concert and guitar workshop.





Toward the end of the week we explored outside the city within Shaanxi Province and came upon the ancient Daqin Pagoda.  I set out to record my musical impressions of it as I looked upon it from far away and close up.

27.5 Buddist Shire in Pagoda




Although today it is a Buddhist Holy site …







… according to historian Martin Palmer in his controversial book “The Jesus Sutras” it was originally built in 640 AD as a Christian temple by a Nestorian Monk Alopen who traveled the Silk Road from Syria. The Nestorian Stele or Tablet found there in 1625 had laid buried since 845 and records the centuries of tradition of a faith known then as the “Luminous Religion.”


29. Mr. Xi's farm




Adam then took me to the farm of one of the most famous guitar builders in all of China. Nestled at the end of a valley beside a corn field is the home and workshop of Mr. Xi.


30. Mr. Xi with Guitar




He showed me one of the guitars he had made …





31. Mr. Xi Guitar John Doan Plays




… and I tried it out.  Wow! It was so full and vibrant with a lot of attention to detail.




32. Mr. Xi looks on John Doan Harp Guitar


I then introduced him to the harp guitar by giving its 20 strings a work out. He listened very carefully and seemed interested.  He noticed a rattling from inside my harp guitar …

33. Mr. Xi fixes Harp Guitar


… and like a kung Fu Master attacked the problem with a series of quick and precise moves.  Before I knew what happened he had reached his arm inside the instrument, found the menacing cables that had become detached and taped them back in place.

34. Mr. Xi with John Doan


I then played it again and the instrument was cured of all its problems! We then posed for a photo together.



35. John Doan Mr. Xi Laughing

I told him that I had never seen a guitar maker do Kung Fu repair and we both had a good laugh.

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