Guided by music, Gregg Butensky traveled the world, absorbing as much international musical influences as possible. His experiences range from picking up the phin in Thailand, strumming the baglama in Istanbul, to participating in the Morroccon Fez Festival.
Station name: Madnomad: An Eclectic Journey around the World of Music
How long have you been broadcasting on Live365?
Since Aug 2000.
How did your station come about? While you were traveling or afterwards?
It came afterwards. Upon our return to the USA, we started digitizing selections culled from the 80 or 90 cassette tapes that we'd acquired while traveling.
What was some of your favorite new music that you were introduced to while traveling?
The world of Arabic music is endless. India, too, has an incredibly rich musical heritage. In fact, music is what originally drew me to India. It was Malian music that inspired me to visit West Africa.
Did you find a lot of Western/US pop influences while traveling the world?
With technology shrinking the world, more and more places are becoming subject to an onslaught of Western pop music. While this music tends to be popular across cultures, it was quite gratifying to find myself in places where the people are primarily interested in their own proud traditions.
Were you able to participate in any local musical festivals or traditions?
In Morocco, we were fortunate enough to attend the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. This was our best opportunity to experience live performances and we encountered renowned musicians that we'd never heard of before. Artists there included Sheikh Yacine from Egypt and Musa Dieng Kala from Senegal.
Did you come across any really unique musical instruments? (I remember trying to take up learning the Chinese erhu myself.)
I love the erhu! During my first trip to India, I purchased a sarod. I've also purchased instruments in Thailand - a phin and a grappagi (both guitar-like stringed instruments). This time around, I considered getting an oud in the bazaar in Damascus but ended up instead with a baglama, also known as a saz, which I purchased in Istanbul.
Has traveling and being exposed to different kinds of world music changed your perspectives on American music scene?
Well, there's plenty of good music being created in the States and I'm by no means exclusively into "foreign" stuff. The change in perspective for me was realizing - really realizing - the vastness of the musical offerings around the world, and how crazy it is to be limited to rock/jazz/blues/country.