We were riding through Burma, from Hpa-an to Loikow, in search of music. After weeks on the road our ears were attuned to music, picking out roadside sounds over the clatter of our broken engines. I stopped on the side of a hill. I was struck by overwhelming noise. It was a slow-moving orchestra, grazing amidst the shrubs and tall grass. Beasts and their bells put on the most hypnotic avant-garde musical performance the Raw Music crew has had the joy of hearing. A melody buried in a wave of sound. Now we're sharing it with you.
Our first video for Time.com. A quick portrait of the last day of the Yangon Ferry. I was struck by the light, grace, kindness. We spent a couple days riding back and forth, and although we could never fit in, we became the weird but inoffensive sideshow to the human carnival of those boats. One of my favorite videos to shoot. You can't mess it up with light like that.
Came home from Burma to visit my family in Iowa for a minute. And realized that about 2,000 Karen and Karenni refugees live in neighboring Waterloo. They traveled there to work in the meat packing plant in town after years in refugee camps in Thailand.
Rice wine was replaced with E&J and Manischewitz, and there was snow on the ground, but otherwise yesterday's Karenni New Year celebration made me feel like I never left Burma.
Traffic is at a standstill and everyone seems half asleep. The driver is hocking big mouthfuls of betel juice out the window and Burmese rap is playing on the radio. Tonight what's being billed as the biggest punk show in the city's history goes down. For reasons hard to discern, Germany's Die Toten Hosen are headlining.
The time Jacob and I crashed a Hindu prayer ceremony on our motorcycle journey across Burma. The music was deafening and glorious. Added bonus -- our new friends took us to see Pioneer, a sparkling new rest stop on the Mandalay - Yangon highway. Bright lights, expensive tea, slightly sinister water features. The American fever dream.
We just motorbiked across a significant portion of this fine country in search of music. Included --3 wipeouts, 8 repairs, stays with Hindus in the center of the country, Buddhists in the contested territories of Kayin state, and several Catholic Churches on our 4-day hell ride through the mountains between Taungoo and Loikow. I'll write about it soon, but here are some shots (with real-time captions) we posted to our instagram page -- @rawmusicintl.
Betsy and Matilda, our hapless bikes, right before things got real rough.
This is a tough, dirty, city. Everyone seems ill and hurting. Particularly jarring after so long in the countryside. But the flowers are a nice touch.
Our Burma moto trip continues. At this point we're just stopping in villages and asking, through a series of increasingly desperate grunts and hand gestures, if anyone around plays music. Some limited success. A lot of sitting around watching people do their thing. A Karen village near the border with Bago region.