Sonic Safari to Hollywood?

Chuck Jonkey & Gamelan group

My exotic Sonic Safari world travels have taken me to some very strange places to document amazing events. Here are just a few examples: Recording a Ute/Navaho Peyote Ceremony inside a primitive tee pee, Eating jungle rats in the Amazon where I recorded sounds of the deep rainforest, Filming natives pounding on stalactites as they create echoing cave music in eastern Java, Participating in the passionate Kecak Monkey Dance of Indonesia and lots of other crazy experiences.

Most of my trips include strange situations in tiny villages far from tourist routes.

During such experiences I always find myself asking, “Is this a dream? Or is this really happening to me?” Fortunately I’ve been able to make a living doing the things I love most” – adventure travel & music. My Sonic Safari music label is full of rare, magical audio recordings from these compelling adventures.

Some of my more exotic audio recordings include “Islamic Women Rice Pounders” (Indonesian women singing as they pound rice), “Russian Underground” (marvelous sounds of Mother Russia), “Gnawa Abdul” (exotic Moroccan trance music), “Gender Wayang” (mysterious music of the Shadow Puppets), “Jegog” (forceful gigantic bamboo xylophone music) and “Maya Music” (haunting ritual music of Guatemalan Indians). Fortunately I have filmed many of these sessions and am editing them together for a TV series titled “Exotic Worlds.” I currently have six episodes that are being viewed in several countries. Former Adventurers’ Club president Allan Smith is producing these shows.

Try to imagine what its like to sit through these remarkable recordings in magical places around the world. My work has required lots of sacrifices over the years to find cultural “nuggets” in very austere places, but it has been well worth the efforts, and has resulted in well over 100 recordings. ( check them out here: Most of the locations I work in are quite rural with few amenities. Each Cd recording has a trip full of unforgettable experiences behind it.

One of the terrific perks of my global musical”encounters” is learning about new and unique musical instruments. My collection of rare, exotic musical instruments has grown enormously. One-of-a kind, primal, handmade instruments like gigantic bamboo xylophones, gongs, sitars, guchen, tambouras and drums of all types are used in my own musical compositions. As I compose music I find that each of these distinctive instruments contribute its own unique sound for a rainbow of colorful sonic possibilities, its like painting wild tropical colors onto a musical canvas to create something totally new and stimulating” – its always a musical adventure!

Many of my recordings and compositions have been used in Hollywood productions.

Here’s just a few: “Rambo IV”, “Beyond Borders”, “Nip & Tuck “, “Proof of Life”, “The Hoop Life”, “Mighty Joe Young”, “Super Structures of the World”, “Jade”, “Heaven & Earth”, “Fern Gully, The Last Rainforest”, “J.F.K.”, “The Doors” and lots more.

So a Sonic Safari to Hollywood is really not that far fetched!