The Future of Punta Rock  A Must Read For Garifuna artists

The Future of Punta Rock  A Must Read For Garifuna artists

Guillermo Anderson RIP (2010)
Editorial Comments by José Francisco Ávila (italics)
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If Punta Rock manages to evolve harmoniously or to merge as a genre, it is very likely that it will occur in New York or Los Angeles, where the majority of the Garifuna population is concentrated and where the musicians are more exposed to other influences. In the mid-nineties, the Garifuna Kids group emerged in New York, whose members were of Honduran and Belizean descent, who began to combine elements of Punta Rock with Hip Hop. Unfortunately, the group separated before reaching more this tendency.[1]

Although New York is home to the largest Garifuna population outside Central America, no other group has managed to reach the level achieved by Garifuna Kids. Even the former members of Garífuna Kids do not participate in the current music scene.

It is strange that there are no more serious musical experiments in New York with regard to the fusion of Punta with genres such as Jazz. To date we are not aware of any such attempt and we do not know Garifuna musicians who distinguish themselves as solo instrumentalists with the exception of Abraham Laboriel, son of Garifunas settled in Mexico.

The only attempt that exists is by the vocalist Lucy Blanco and the musician James Lovell, who formed the Afri Garifuna Jazz Ensemble with African-American musicians and James on the Garifuna drums. Currently there are no Garifuna instrumentalists and the clearest example is that Aurelio Martínez hires Tony Peñalba and Guayo Cedeño both non Garifunas as guitarists, and Emilio Alvarez Quioto Founder of Diablos Negros who is Garifuna but resides in Tegucigalpa as bass player.

Laboriel is one of the best-known bass players in the world and has recorded and played with figures such as Henry Mancini, George Benson and her Fitzgerald. However, for now he has not recorded any Garifuna music album or influenced it.

In 2014 Emilio Álvarez Quioto, Abraham Laboriel’s nephew, recorded the record production: “RUGUMA“. A fusion of traditional Garifuna instrumental music and World Music. According to his page on Ethnocloud, “With this album I intend to pay homage to my Garifuna roots and the diverse influences accumulated in my artistic work and contribute a grain of sand in the dissemination and conservation of our roots.”

It could be said that the Garifuna musical community needs to stimulate the formal musical education of its musicians in the different countries. If we study the characteristics of Punta Rock and the role that instrumentation currently plays, we note that ensembles seem to be more percussion (with some harmony support) than ensembles that pose harmonic, melodic and compositional challenges. A generation of Garifuna musicians with formal music studies could inject new trends and innovations into production.

Totally agree, in a previous article, I stated “I cannot help noticing that most of the songs are just electronic rhythms and drums, therefore the music sounds monotonous! At present, the only musician with a formal music education, are producer Víctor Arzú and musician James Lovell.

It should also be noted that among the Garinagu, traditional music does not have the same diffusion as the Punta Rock groups. The best example is Aurelio Martinez, who in Honduras and the United States is more valued for his work in this last genre and achieves more contracts to perform for the Honduran public with the Braves of the Caribbean than with a traditional assembly.

An example in New York, are the Garifuna cultural groups which have not transcended from performances in the Garifuna Community except for sporadic performance in general market scenarios.

For some time now, a good part of the recordings by Honduran popular bands have included songs by Garifuna authors. The original creative work is relatively small. In addition, in recent years these authors have not been consulted when recording their songs which has caused complaints. The controversies are evidence of the need to support the Garifuna musicians so that they can register their compositions properly.

The clearest example is the song Sopa de Caracol that Banda Blanca recorded in 1991 (Click to read on the subject)

It is the reason that we formed GALENT Music Publishing Group, an independent music publishing services and music rights management company to make the complex world of music more rewarding for composers by ensuring that they are  paid properly and promptly.

In Honduran radio, a good part of the programming of tropical music is dedicated to merengue and reggaetón, the latter is perhaps the preferred genre of the public. It is very difficult to speculate about the future of a changing expression as popular music, although the fact that there is a lot of space for experimentation and the search for new audiences does not invite us to think that among the commercial dance groups of Honduras a new current or an important innovation in the genre will be born. But there will always be a market for Punta Rock, because it is a contemporary carrier of one of the most deeply rooted expressions of the Garifuna Culture. The clearest experimentation is the so-called “Catracho Talent” that, as I mentioned in another article, they have obviously confused a pseudonym with a Musical Genre! The Musical Genre is known as Urban Music, and includes reggaetón and because of their confusion, they have not transcended.

Regarding the development of the popular groups of the Honduran scene, two important aspects must be considered. The first is that after Banda Blanca Punta Rock could not be established as a genre with a varied theme and with several exponents. The second is that Punta Rock did not succeed to develop as a genre with variations, nor established a repertoire in Spanish ” Punta Rock Clasics” that appeal to the Honduran identity, as in other countries with genres such as Cumbia, ranchera, etc.

The future of the Punta is in the hands of the Garifuna musicians. It is important to take into account that the Garífuna groups in Honduras did not manage to develop entrepreneurially. The Garifuna groups did not work as organized show companies to sell their music and their performances. At present, the only Garifuna group that can be identified are the Arriola Brothers, who finally became independent after having integrated and founded Kazabe grouping and other individual attempts.

The possibilities that Garifuna music establishes a new international precedent are in the hands of Garinagu producers and artists who bet on the World Music circuit or World Music, a genre and commercial space created in the eighties to bring together the traditional music of the world and traditional music with contemporary elements. The only Garifuna artist participating in that space is Aurelio Martinez as an artist of Stonetree Records of Belize. This is a market outside the conservative and nostalgic domains of Central American migrants and allows to introduce exotic influences while maintaining a certain fidelity to culture. The future of Garifuna music is in the hands of Garifuna artists who dare to experiment with new sounds through electronics.

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