Part 5: John Doan’s Southeast Asia Tour to Phan Thiết – From Dragon Fruit to a Dragon Festival Parade, a Secret Concert and Secret Beaches, sleeping in a restaurant and other Adventures on Buses and Motorcycles

Map Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet

Phan Thiết is due west of Ho Chi Minh City a mere 125 miles but 6 and a half hours by bus!

7. I Call Out Smile But They Just Honked Their HornsIt takes that long because there are no freeways, just surface streets filled with mopeds and various other obstacles!

John Doan harp guitar on Bus Vietnam

On the bus I could lay down but there was not much room to store my harp guitar. A nice boy who was getting off at the next stop offered to hold it for me.  Although the thought crossed my mind that this was one way to introduce the harp guitar to Vietnam I decided to hold on to it for the duration of the trip. Continue reading

China 2014 Tour: Welcoming Arrival in China

The following is a report from the road as John Doan begins his 2014 concert tour of China.


When leaving the Seattle airport to China the concert tour began to seem so real and no longer an idea. The line for the plane was filled with Chinese people speaking to each other in Mandarin. The silence surrounding my host family Hougquan, Li, Yilin and Guo Guo was lifting as we were beginning to enter their world.

The plane was literally shoulder-to-shoulder with people except for first class that was sparsely occupied. People had money enough for air travel but these are a practical people use to long lines and enduring inconvenience. During the flight Chinese faces were aglow from individual screens watching a marathon of movies both in Chinese and Hollywood ones with English subtitles.

After each movie I checked the flight map to see our route up north into the arctic arcing over Alaska and Siberia and down across frigid expanses of barren snow covered mountains and remote ice covered lakes and waterways. This impassible region still defined the old barriers of place and people prohibiting any to pass through on ground or boat especially this time of year yet we leisurely passed above it all at 40,000 ft. and at -70 below freezing!

John Doan Arrives Beijing walking off the airplane at the airport.We landed in Beijing at a modern airport amongst the glow of lite streets, freeways and buildings as far as the eye could see through the man made fog that clung to the ground. Deplaning onto the tarmac we were confronted by the reality of the December cold causing all to bundle up as we walked fifty yards to an incredibly long and wide bus that transported us to another terminal in the airport.
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Italy Part 1: Florence: The City of Passion for Life and Harp Guitars

I’ve been taking you on a journal tour of European Tour 2013. So far we’ve revisited our arrival and adventures in Paris, played with fast cars and harp guitars in Le Mans, and exploring more of the french countryside with castles, toys, and of course more harp guitars. After having our fun in France entertaining all with story and song, we moved on to impress and be impressed with Italy.

1.John Doan Train Italy

Once in Venice we took a Ferrari looking high speed train to Florence. The city is simply eye popping and a photographer’s paradise.

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To Russia with Love – Part 1 – First Impressions

I suppose if one were living life fully, each moment in each day would seem like an adventure. Travel takes me away from all that is ordinary which is no doubt extraordinary except for that I have gotten use to everything and everyone that is usually around me. Last December a fan of mine in some ways awoke me from my waking sleep when he wrote me from Moscow and inquired if I had plans of performing there in the future. My custom is to write back and explore if there are any possibilities. I then received an extraordinary response from Жилин Андрей, or should I say, Andrew Jilan who claimed that when he was fifteen he had three favorite musicians/groups that he listened to. I never dreamed that I would ever be in league with Jimi Page and Iron Maiden but there I was raised high in the pantheon of cultural icons. We skyped each other and set a week mid May for my debut concerts in Russia and perhaps for the first harp guitar concerts heard there as well.

John Down in Moscow in a vehicle.After having performed in Ukraine and Germany my wife Deirdra and I arrived on my Birthday in Moscow. Andrew had prearranged a cab – basically someone who has highjacked the family car and has found a few hours of employment (the cabbies at the airport charge several times more).

Valdimer Putin - photographAndrew had never received a rock star before. I didn’t know if he was being kind and shaved part of his head to emulate me or that he enjoyed looking like Vladimir Lenin but his gentle demeanor put us at ease as we rushed through the strange landscape of endless apartment structures and construction detours.
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John Doan Visits L’viv, Ukraine, New Harp Guitar Capital of the World?

Early in May I had an adventure visiting L’viv, Ukraine to give harp guitar concerts.

It was like entering into a time warp as the city had a holiday celebrating its long history with people walking through the streets in medieval costumes.  There were even horse drawn carriages.
Ancient church walls were adorned with spectacular gold icons and detailed wall paintings.
There were shops with handmade goods like this candy shop brimming over with tempting delights.

The central park benches were either filled with lovers locked in Ukrainian embrace or with old men playing board games.


Deirdra and I were waiting our turn for a park bench

I sat down and had a long talk with one of the locals and later went atop a building for a view of the city skyline.


There were children dancing to folk music on a large stage in the town square.

This is where I introduced the 20-string harp guitar to mobs of cheering Ukrainians who were introduced to the instrument as “The Bandura of the 21st Century” (read on about the Bandura).


The real exciting part to my adventure in Lviv was a visit to the Trembita Musical Instrument Factory. They have years of experience building Ukrainian instruments like the Bandura. It is not unlike the version of harp guitar I have championed my entire career (complete with super treble strings).

It was amazing to see the walls lined with instruments.

They have remained a Ukrainian favorite for centuries as seen in one of the local sculptures. An image of one is even found on their money.


Myron Kuzemsky, the president of the factory, showed me one of the Banduras near completion.

I meet Jay Buckey who is working with Trembita to make harp guitars. The one I tried out was made quite well and had a very nice tone. Jay showed me one of the tops for an upcoming Dyer Model harp guitar.


Jay Buckey has formally started his new company “Your Harp Guitar” after a series of test instruments were made.  He has overseen a number of modifications and has even included in his future production harp mandolins and the new 21-string “John Doan Model” – a harp guitar based on the plans of his Elliott-Sullivan harp guitar (with an added bass string).  He is consulting with its noted designer – Jeffery Elliott aiming at the highest quality in an affordable instrument.

Before leaving L’viv Jay and I gave the first harp guitar concert in Ukrainian history with a little help from his friends (Alla who has the voice of an Angel, and Peter who moved the audience to tears!). The audience was so responsive with applauds that continued on and on prolonging the concert.  They loved it and we loved playing for them.

One fan came 3 hours by train to come to the event.  He is anxious to make a “Your Harp Guitar” one of his own and with the factory gearing up to produce 40 harp guitars a month this dream can come true.

Do the math.  At that rate of production most harp guitars made on the planet will come from L’viv, Ukraine perhaps making it by sheer numbers the harp guitar capital of the world someday!