Monday, March 31, 2008

March 29, 2008 - Belize You Me
When you're selecting music to play on an anything- goes kind of radio show like the Free Kick, it's always nice to have some sort of angle to guide your choices. For this weekend's show, since I just came back from a short vacation trip to beautiful Belize, the decision to feature a bunch of Belizean music came naturally!

Belize is a tiny country of just over 300 000 people, about 180 x 85 miles in size, on the Caribbean coast of Central America just south of the Yucatan peninsula. Guatemala lies to its west and south. The country was a British colony until 1981, so English is the dominant language - most people speak a local variant called Kriol that is similar to Jamaican patois - but Spanish is also frequently heard, and indigenous Mayan and other languages are spoken by smallish communities. There are a surprising number of German-speaking Mennonites there too.

As for music, on the streets of Belize City (where I was) you are likely to hear to hear a lot of reggae and dancehall, much of it coming from Jamaica but some featuring local artistes. American soul and hiphop are also big. The main contemporary local style is a high-energy dance music called punta rock: this sounds a bit like calypso or soca, but features more Latin-flavoured basslines and distinctive stuttering percussion parts. I didn't actually play any of this stuff on the show, but here's a quick taste:
Reckless: Lidere (6.5 MB mp3)
Supa G: Ay Mami, Wala Wine (youtube video)
Punta rock is based on rhythms linked to the Garinagu people, often called Garifuna. These are descendants of shipwrecked African slaves who intermarried with Arawak and Carib Indians on St.Vincent, and who were later carried by British ships to Nicaragua, Honduras and Belize. The survival of their language (along with distinctive cultural forms such as Garifuna music) has been threatened, but in recent years Belizeans have been leading an effort to revitalize and publicize Garifuna culture. Foremost among the musicians in this movement was Andy Palacio, who had major worldwide success with the 2007 album Watina and who is sorely missed since he passed away this January 19 at the age of 47. Here's a link to an interesting interview with Palacio conducted shortly after the release of Watina.

OK, so that covers the background for a bit of the first part of the show. I'll definitely be playing more great Belizean music on future Free Kick shows, so stay tuned y'hear! Here's a full list of the musicians that we played on Saturday:

The Peanuts, A Tribe Called Quest, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Lincoln Lewis, The Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination, The Harmonettes, Jesus C. Acosta & the Professionals, Andy Palacio (RIP) and the Garifuna Collective, Cachao (RIP), Dj Dolores e Santa Massa, Kid Koala, Pascal Comelade, Frank Zappa, GTOs, Jeffrey Lewis, Brian Joseph Davis, Kathy Kennedy, Simply Saucer, Miles Davis (production: Teo Macero - RIP!), Geordie Haley's Everytime Band (vocals: Christine Duncan), Rob Clutton, Lori Freedman & Scott Thompson, The Homosexuals, The User, Heldon, Lou Reed/Zeitkratzer Ensemble & Steve Reich!

To download an mp3 of the show for repeated enjoyment, you can use these links:
Or you can just stream it by going to the CKUT archives page and requesting the show of Sat March 29 from 21:03 - 23:02.

That's it for now, boys and girls. Please tune in again for the next show, Saturday April 12 from 9 - 11 pm eastern on CKUT 90.3 fm!



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