The Surfer, The Musician and The Farmer
by Jason McCobb
Donavan was a surfer first – getting his first surfboard at age ten. It wasn’t until he turned pro and hit the road that he started playing guitar. When he got bit by the guitar bug, he went everywhere with a surf board under his arm and guitar strapped to his back. He would try to catch up with other guitar players while out traveling to different surf locations. He would learn different chords and play away. In his is first band he was just a guitarist who never sang. Donavon found his voice when he wrote his first song for his wife Petra, “On My Mind.” Donavon got his big start from long-time friend Jack Johnson, but even though he and Jack were good friends it wasn’t an automatic deal. Donavon said, “Jack is big time and has lots of things going on so I still had to sell myself to him.”
Taking Donavon back, I asked him about his high school days. He told me he was big-time into surfing saying, “My parents gave me so much freedom,” and despite everyone giving him the Spicoli stereotype, he was focused and didn’t smoke pot or drink. People didn’t believe that he would amount to anything being a surf bum, but boy are they eating their words now. Overcoming two big stereotypes, he is very successful and has two careers with an enormous amount of endorsements. Donavon lives with his wife Petra and two boys, Ozzy and Hendrix in Hawaii on a seven-acre plot of land with lots of bananas and even a vegetable garden. Petra is a very good cook and is big time into feeding the family healthy food, he tells me. Donavon and his family are conscious of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and the horrible things Monsanto is doing to farming and he tells me of the evil company’s presence on the island. He says that there are lots of farms around that are always spraying and doing something. They love to shop at the local farmers market, but what they don’t get there they grow in their four raised garden beds. Donavon says, “We love our garden, we grow kale, tomatoes, lettuce, and the kids love being out there.”
onavon dabbled in being a restaurateur as well for a bit. He opened, “Donavons Margarita House” inside Tia Juana’s Beach Cantina in Lahaina, HI. Although the restaurant is closed, Donavon explains that it was cool hangout where he showcased all his collected guitars and records. The margarita house carried over one hundred varieties of tequila and had some of the best tacos in town.
Most all music is going to move you in some way, but it takes a special musician to move your inner being, your soul, and Donavon’s music is music that you will be singing through the pearly gates. The music by itself could stand alone on an album, but then when he sings you would think an angel was in your presence. He has such a soft voice with a whispering-like tone and when paired with music you can’t help but dance.
Donavon looks like a surfer more than a musician, always wearing his Sanuk sandals with his crazy hair and trademark mustache. In fact, part of a new Sanuk campaign is making stick on mustaches for fans to wear. When you see Donavon walking around you can’t help but want to watch him and see what he is going to do next. It was funny when we were shooting Donavon and he was getting himself ready and he said,
“Hold on I gotta fix my hair,” and he rubbed his hands on his head making it look even crazier and said, “Ok, I’m ready now.”’
Getting serious with Donavon I asked him what scares him. He said, “Nothing does.” He goes head first into everything. I think because of his success in both surfing and music he has a sense of confidence, that is rare, that instills a bravery that I greatly admire. Lastly I asked Donavon, “What do you wish you could change about people?”
He said, “Hate, I wish I could get rid of all the hate in the world.”