is isn't necessary to be entranced by the story of the
Garifuna people to enjoy the music of Andy Palacio. The
rhythms and melodies give hints of Afropop, yet the swing
and the maraca infuse a distinctly Latin-Caribbean flavor.
the music is clearly unique. Raw and rattly drum beats
are paired with guitar and vocal harmonies on the title
track, which tells of a person stranded on a road as drivers
zip by, unsympathetic. Such everyday occurances are a common
theme in Garifuna music. Other songs include the bluesy
prayer "Weyu Larigi Weyu" with it's call-and-response refrain;
the upbeat reggae-meets-Garifuna call for unity "Lidan
Aban;" and the Paranda-style guitar piece "Sin Precio"
with its somber message of feeling worthless.
and raised in the Atlantic coast village of Barranco, Belize,
Palacio heard a mix of traditional and imported music,
and played both in his early musical career. His music
took a turn while he was working with a literacy project
in Nicaragua in 1990 and he realized how the Garifuna language
was dying out.
saw what happened to my people. The cultural erosion I
saw deeply affected my outlook," Palacio says, "and
I definitely reacted to that reality." His response
was to become a musical ambassador for things Garifuna, helping
other musicians get recognized, and recently cutting this
album of songs based on traditional Garifuna rhythms.
story of The
Garifuna people is the stuff of legend, ripe for big-screen
exposure. Essentially, they emerged from a transportation
accident. Two European slave ships
off the coast of
in 1635. The surviving slaves mixed with the local population,
and spread to the Central American mainland. [more
history]. They have
expanded from fewer than 2,000 people in 1800 to more than
200,000 today, and the work of artists such as Palacio
(who tours in fall 2007) and Aurelio Martinez (who tours in
spring 2007) are bringing the culture wider global recognition
it richly deserves. This is a must-have album for curious
Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media