Jimmy Robinson hopes to find the missing 12-string guitar, which fell from his Subaru | Keith Spera
Jimmy Robinson, one of New Orleans’ earliest guitarists, left Chickie Wah Wah on May 18 in high spirits.
After more than 40 years of playing professionally with Woodenhead, Twangorama, the New Orleans Guitar Masters and other projects, he knows when a gig is going well. The Chickie Wah Wah concert had gone very well.
As he drove home along Cold Storage Road, he heard a noise in the back of his 2022 Subaru Outback. He turned around and discovered the SUV’s tailgate was open – and his prized guitar 12-string acoustic, the instrument he had relied on for nearly 30 years, was gone.
He had apparently slipped out of the moving vehicle. He immediately retraced his route along Airline Highway and N. Broad St. to the Canal Street club. He couldn’t find the guitar, or parts of it.
“It was in a soft black case,” he said. “If a car had hit it, it would have been shattered.”
Much to his frustration, he didn’t have his name or contact information anywhere on the guitar or its case. He hopes a Good Samaritan found the guitar intact and tries to find out who it belongs to.
Robinson offers a reward for his return.
During this time, he also surveyed area pawnbrokers and filed a police report. As of this writing, his search has proven fruitless.
In Robinson’s experience, most 12-string guitars are extremely difficult to play. He quotes famed acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke’s assessment of 12-string guitars: “It’s a good idea on paper.”
But his lost Taylor 12-string, which he bought in the 1990s from the old Rock ‘n’ Roll Music store, was different. “It’s a wonderful instrument,” Robinson said.
The missing 1994 Taylor 12-String Model 855 bears the serial number 940808118. Robinson has made many modifications to the instrument which should make it easy to identify. It has dual line-in jacks on the side, a Sunrise sound hole-mounted mic, and a sandpaper-like material on the back and sides that keep it from slipping while playing. .
When Robinson was in college, someone stole some amplifiers, cables, and a pair of shoes that he left in his car overnight. But in over 40 years of performing and traveling, he’s never had a stolen or lost guitar – until now.
On the fateful night at Chickie Wah Wah, Robinson loaded two more guitars and an amplifier into the cargo hold of his new Outback. As he was leaving, he pressed a button to close the automatic tailgate. Something must have prevented the tailgate from fully closing, so it opened smoothly.
Robinson didn’t notice. He cranked up the music on the Outback’s stereo. And normally, when he glances in the rearview mirror, he only sees the tailgate glass, which fills the rearview mirror. So he didn’t realize he was looking at open space instead of clear glass until he turned around and saw the street.
And the empty space where the 12 string rested on the other guitars, which had not fallen.
This week he parked his Outback in an airport garage for an overnight trip. He returns the next day to find that once again the automatic tailgate has opened by itself.
“I think I’ll turn it off,” Robinson said, “and go back to opening it the old-fashioned way.”