‘I’ve seen a forklift go through a guitar case’: Musicians share their air-travel horror stories

Even superfamous rock stars schlep their own instruments through airports. From left, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Guns N’ Roses’ Slash and Madonna. (GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images;

When Malian master musician Ballaké Sissoko opened the case to his kora, a traditional and delicate 21-string instrument, after an early February flight from New York to Paris, he was devastated by what he found.

“Ballaké Sissoko has just had his cherished, custom-made kora completely destroyed by USA Customs, without any justification,” Lucy Durán, an ethnomusicologist, wrote in a statement on Sissoko’s behalf on his official Facebook account. “In Mali, the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers, and to silence Mali’s great musical heritage. And yet, ironically, it is the USA Customs that have in their own way managed to do this.” Full story.

August Brown (Los Angeles Times) / February 27, 2020

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