Amsterdam -> Nairobi / by Cyrus Moussavi

I've had so many bad sandwiches in Amsterdam Schiphol airport. When we were kids traveling to Iran, Amsterdam was the hub. Our family explored the city on long layovers. Situated in my mind directly between Iowa and Iran, Amsterdam and its airport came to represent the triumphs of northern European civilization.  The toilets were clean, the graphics were clean, the people were clean and spoke in soft voices.   

A year of studying immigration here dimmed some of the glow.  I now think of red-faced men and watery beer, bicycle rage, low clouds, ethnic segregation, and bad sandwiches. The airport bathrooms seem a little dingier.  Never look too closely at your heroes.  

Which is exactly what I intend to keep doing. I'm on the way to Kenya to meet with the great Olima Anditi, a man I met on the first day of the first Raw Music trip  back in 2011.  He's stayed with me since, the proud and glorious blind guitarist, delivered well into his late 80s by what appears to be a steady diet of homebrewed corn-beer and cheap cigarettes. 

While there I hope to also meet Johnstone Mukabi, son of the late great George Mukabi. The goal is to hear as much Kenyan "dry guitar" music as possible, and record with any of the old-timers still left.  Here's one of my favorite songs (of any genre, ever):

On this front I have to thank Gordon of Olvido records. We ran into each other in Mississippi Records in Portland and bonded over his first release, an incredible album of dark-side Greek music from the early 20th century.  Listen here:

Gordon and Eric at Mississippi love Kenya dry guitar, and they've set  me up with lists of names, labels, and improbable musical connections.  I'll spend a month tracking through these lists, digging through records, and talking to the elderly across the country.  Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with a few albums worth of jams.  So here we go...