Your next trip to the Honduran island of Roatán may have a new soundtrack, thanks to a man named Andy Palacio. The recently deceased musician, whose album, Wátina, was nominated for the BBC World Music Album of the Year in 2008, pioneered the revival of an upbeat style of music called punta rock, which mixes West African-based drumming rhythms and Caribbean dance music in a mosaic that mirrors Roatán's history. Due largely to his efforts, punta rock has lately become the national music of the villages of southern Belize and the Bay Islands.
The inhabitants - and drumbeats - of this part of the world, called Garifuna, descend from Carib Indians and Africans exiled from British colonies in the Eastern Caribbean in the 18th century. Now, amid the Caribbean surf and sun, listen for the booming sounds of traditional, African drumbeats pouring out of churches that celebrate the distinctly Garifuna dugu ritual while the smell of coconut milk and palm-oil-fried seafood floods the air. And in the evenings, tune in as local bars become filled with the rhythms of newly popular punta.
Catch Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective, now a tribute performance, on tour this summer in the U.S. The tour also includes Umalali, a dynamic group of more than 50 young women whose impeccably produced debut recording uses traditional Garifuna melodies to recount personal sagas that span generations, from tales of the pain of childbirth to harrowing accounts of surviving hurricanes. The stories are timeless, and so is the music.
LISTEN online at stonetreerecords.com.