Johnny Mayer, Blues Musician

Johnny Mayer, Blues Dreams

Ramallah Blues

By Johnny Mayer

In 1971, I was a volunteer on Kibbutz Gonen when I had a dream… "In the middle of the night, terrorists burst into the room where we were sleeping and started shooting us as we lay in our beds. I was really scared and reached into my pocket, took out my harmonica and threw it at the terrorists!

I think the harmonica dream is connected to Blues for Peace that I dreamed up in 1997 on my way to a Black & Blues Festival in Tel Aviv. In ten minutes I made up a flyer to pass out at the concert that began … BLUES FOR PEACE... And they shall beat their swords into Guitars...

Recognized by UNESCO as promoting the Culture of Peace, Blues for Peace appeared in Downbeat, USA Today HOT Site, CNN Student News, PBS American Masters, Jerusalem Post, etc.

In 1999, a People to People group sponsored by the Eisenhower Foundation contacted me. They planned to visit Israel, Jordan and Lebanon and wanted to hear some live blues. So I decided to hold a Blues for Peace evening for them at the "Syndrome" nightclub in Jerusalem.

In return, they invited me to join them for dinner in Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority. After a dinner, people gave speeches and out of the blue… the host asked me to express my view on the Peace Process. And I thought, "Are you referring to me?"

As I stood up, I felt my harmonica in my pocket, took it out and said to the group, "Listen, I'm not a speech maker or a politician, but there's one thing I know how to do - this!" And I played them a few blues licks on the harmonica.

There was a long silence… then everyone started clapping and smiling. And I said, "That's what Blues for Peace means to me - the power of music to communicate when words fail, to bring people together and encourage leaders to make peace".

May all your blues… be Blues for Peace.

Johnny Mayer

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