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Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Project

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:05 pm
by Alan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:57 pm
by garth cartwright
Just back from Cargo. Lasted 45 minutes. Didn't leave cos there was anything wrong with the gig but there wasn't enough right to stay longer.

The CD is better cos its more laiiiiiiiidback, real groovy sunshine beach music, but i must say i find all the pontificating about it confusing - it's very nice but not much else.

For those who didn't attend but love the CD, band were more up-tempo, even sounding like Nigerian hi-life at times. All played well but a bit like Roky's gig last night - a decent bar band but no real magic.

Left when they went into punta-rock. Not cos it was bad but cos i was sure things weren't going to rise to new heights.

I once backpacked through Belize and all i heard during my entire stay was reggae. Got taken to a sound system in the heart of a coastal shanty town (yes, we were looking for something to smoke) and standing around listening to the music - good roots and a bit of soul - when Simply Red's Holding Back The Years came on. That's right, on a ghetto sound system. Sounded great too. Always had a soft spot for Mick Hucknall cos of that tune and that memory. And maybe Money's Too Tight also.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:19 am
by Philip Ryalls
I like Garth's "Just in" reports....but this one doesn't reflect what I saw.

I will remember this gig for a long time for the moment when Andy Palacio brought Paul Nabor on stage for two songs, and then again for the encore. I really didn't expect that.

The Paranda CD is nearly 10 years old, finally tonight it came to London, thanks to Como No.

A fine gig in a great venue.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:53 am
by Charlie
Philip Ryalls wrote:A fine gig in a great venue.

I would have liked to have gone, but still can't stand up for that long.

I'm interested to read Philip's opinion that Cargo's a great venue - I've always found the sound bounces off those brick walls and I've never heard a really good gig there. Terry Hall and Mustaq came closest, because their band didn't play too loud.

Garth's description of what you hear in Belize is pretty much what I remember too - which makes it all the more impressive that Stonetree producer Ivan Duran has searched around to discover and record musicians who are invisible and unheard, unless you know where to look.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:33 am
by Philip Ryalls
I like Cargo because the bands I have seen there respond the audience dancing right in front of them. It would have been a different gig in the Purcell Room. But you need both; Purcell Room for acoustics and comfort, Cargo and the ICA for atmosphere.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:29 pm
by Alan
Philip Ryalls wrote:I will remember this gig for a long time for the moment when Andy Palacio brought Paul Nabor on stage for two songs, and then again for the encore. I really didn't expect that.

I also hadn’t expected Paul Nabor to have made the long trip with the Garifuna Collective, but my hopes were raised by the vacant microphone stand at the beginning. What a treat those three songs were - love the way he takes control of songs and seems to sing a fraction before the beat. Andy Palacio would have any audience in his hand; he has such warmth and presence. It’s a pity they won’t be at Womad.

We missed the subtlety of Ivan Duran’s guitar which frames a lot of Watina, but the gig was a pleasure and much enjoyed. Like Philip, I’m fond of Cargo too, but no matter how tight you close your eyes, you’re still stuck in Shoreditch, a long way from Belizean beaches.

How long until some advertising exec pinches the Watina melody to sell cars?


It’s great to hear that Andy and Ivan are to be recognised with a Womex award. More below;


WOMEX is proud to announce the joint winners of the 2007 WOMEX Award, Andy Palacio and Ivan Duran, both of Belize. Andy Palacio is a Garifuna musician, activist and Belize's cultural ambassador. Ivan Duran, a musician and producer, is founder of Stonetree Records.

"We intend the WOMEX award to serve as an example of what is best in our community," said WOMEX General Director, Gerald Seligman. "And who better to receive it than Ivan Duran and Andy Palacio? Each in their way is exemplary. Each has made an indelible mark on his country's cultural life. Ivan is a virtually one man music industry in Belize. And Andy has almost single-handedly put Garifuna culture on the world's musical map, and by doing so has helped to preserve it."

"The past decade has seen the production of a number of field and studio recordings from Central America that have brought Garifuna artistry to the attention of world-music audiences," explained Princeton University's Michael Stone, a scholar of the Garifuna and friend of Duran and Palacio. "Leading the way, Belize-based Stonetree Records - through the work of producer Ivan Duran with singer Andy Palacio and other Garifuna artists - represents a unique effort, indigenous to the region, to document and reinforce the expressive cultural traditions of the Garifuna people and other minority groups of Caribbean Central America."

"It's an extraordinary endorsement," said an emotional Andy Palacio,"not just for me as an artist - but for a community that, despite the greatest challenges, has demonstrated a remarkable resilience, with cultural expression at the forefront." Community, it's a concept Andy returns to again and again, even calling his group the Garifuna Collective.

"I'm too young to be receiving awards!" exclaimed Ivan Duran, already practicing for his acceptance speech. "I feel very humbled by this award and I share it with the many 'small' and unknown producers around the world who, like me, one day decided to produce new music and artists that no 'big label' cared about."


It was in 1635 that a ship full of West African slaves shipwrecked off the coast of St. Vincent. Only half survived. They mingled with the indigenous Caribs of the region, eventually being forcibly re-located to settlements along Central America's Caribbean coast - Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. Explained Michael Stone, "The Garifuna sustain a proud heritage of having resisted enslavement at European hands, although their unique cultural heritage is today under considerable threat." Which is where Andy Palacio comes in.

Palacio's destiny was also determined thanks to inclement weather off the Caribbean coast. In an almost mythical encounter, a ship he was sailing on when he was eighteen was blown off course by a storm. For safety, they stepped ashore near a small Nicaraguan village. There he met an old man who thought himself the only one alive still speaking the Garifuna language - until Andy hailed him in their native tongue.

"From that day I realized that what was happening in Nicaragua, the disappearance of Garifuna culture, foreshadowed what was going to happen in Belize less than a generation down the road," Palacio told Dmitri Vietze. "I decided to follow my passion and focus more on performing Garifuna music as a way to keep the traditions alive long into the future."

First as a Punta Rock artist and now as he plumbs deeper musical roots, Palacio has been seeking to preserve and to share his culture. "For the Garifuna," he explained backstage in Berlin during a recent show, "music and dance are inextricably linked with survival. Music accompanies us every day, whether we're at work or at play. It is the breath that keeps us alive collectively. At its highest level, it's an expression of our spirituality."

When asked about his mission, Palacio replied instantly: "First to tell our story, and then to share our legacy." Sharing it is turning into a joint mission with Palacio's friend, Ivan Duran.


"I got interested in Garifuna culture in my teens," Duran explained, "when I started studying music." Duran was born in Belize to Catalonian parents, restless travelers who arrived one day in Belize and never left. "I always loved the drumming and singing even though I didn't really dig what was being done with the arrangements, all those synthesizers and all. It's a music that always goes straight to my heart. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, and good music need not be complicated."

Duran and Palacio started collaborating in 1995 when Ivan produced Andy's first full-length album, "Keimuon", which was also the project that launched Stonetree Records the following year. "Since then we have developed a great artist/producer relationship and there is complete mutual trust. Of course, the fact that we live in the same country and just a few miles apart makes it a lot easier."

Stonetree doesn't flood the market with releases. Instead, each is hand-crafted and worked lovingly until the performances, the recordings, the mixes - and the artwork - are all just right. "It has never taken me more than a few seconds to decide wether I should record a particular song," Duran said. "I create a powerful bond with the song and no matter what I do to it in the studio, I make sure we never lose the spirit of that first impression."

It is this intuitive grasp that helped Duran shape his approach to recording Garifuna music. He and Palacio spent months discussing how to get it right. Most efforts, even Andy's own, had been cast in a rock setting. Insight came in a flash. "When Andy played me a tape of Paul Nabor singing an old Paranda composition, I knew it was time to hit rewind and go back to the roots to find the soulful melodies and the real essence of Garifuna music." [Nabor is the 79-year-old Garifuna musician who Palacio has been taking on his world tours.] Andy agreed, and the first fruit of the more acoustic, rootsier approach was Aurelio Martinez' CD "Garifuna Soul".

Then came the acclaimed "Watina", with Andy fronting the Garifuna Collective (number one in the World Music Charts Europe at the time of this writing), and now, the Umálali project with the same collective, directed by Palacio and fronted by a diverse group of Garifuna women singers. Andy and Umalili will be performing at the WOMEX Award ceremony on Sunday, 28 October 2007.

The Duran-Palacio partnership is one of mutual respect and remarkable results. "Andy is an inspiration for many Belizean artists," enthused Duran. "His willingness to experiment and expand Garifuna musical forms has set an invaluable example for generations to come." When it comes to the future, Duran said, "I just hope that the music can inspire and give pride to a small nation like ours. Musicians and artists have for too long been overlooked and under-appreciated. Our nascent local music industry is finally starting to be recognized for its valuable contribution to the development of our country. Even though I've been making records for 12 years, only recently has our music started to get international attention. This WOMEX Award couldn't have come at a better moment. Personally, this is the most amazing recognition one can receive in our field of world music. This award encourages me to even work harder to produce the best possible recordings that our artists so much deserve."


For these reasons and a hundred more, WOMEX has bestowed the 2007 award on Andy Palacio and Ivan Duran.

"In 2001 UNESCO's Director-General proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance to be among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity," said Michael Stone. "The decree highlighted the distinctive value of the Garifuna cultural traditions (under pressure from mass tourism, encroachment upon native lands, emigration and other forces of globalization) and stressed the urgency of safeguarding Garifuna culture." Among the best efforts are those of our Award winners.

"Together they truly represent a certain spirit of WOMEX," said Ben Mandelson, musician, producer, and WOMEX's first Director. "Andy is taking a local music and putting it on the regional, then international stage; making it popular without compromise, yet remaining creative; being committed in the long-term to representing core cultural values as a true 'sonic ambassador.' Ivan best represents what is valuable, good, important, correct, moral and creative about the world music community; which he does with integrity; meeting international standards and global vision whilst using local resources. He is creating a positive image of his country internationally through positive means (the means of music). Together they represent committed independence, determination, and integrity - with a moral quality as well as a product and business quality. And all of this achieved with a relaxed modesty and humour!"

We'll give the last word to Paul Nabor, the Garifuna's elder statesman, who is still bringing down the house with Andy Palacio. In a large white cane cowboy hat that threatens to engulf him as he shuffles about on stage, Nabor sings his powerful songs of a resilient culture. What did he make of the award? He smiled. "I feel happy. Andy's the first one trying to do this for the Garifuna. I've been playing since I was 18 and I'm 79 now, and this is the first chance I have to play for so many people. I'm proud of Andy. I can say to anybody that Andy started this thing."

And what about Ivan? "Ivan works fine, too. I love how Ivan works. He takes good care of me."


'Watina' is released on Stonetree Records in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. It is released on Cumbancha everywhere else.

Guardian review

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:01 pm
by Alan
Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective at Cargo, London (four stars)

review by Robin Denselow, Friday June 22, 2007 Guardian Unlimited

Andy Palacio may be the deputy administrator of the Belize Institute of Culture and History, but he is also one of the musical discoveries of the year. His album Watina, recorded with the young and elderly musicians of the Garifuna Collective, is a rhythmic, gloriously soulful tribute to the Garifuna community, who are descended both from Caribs and escaped African slaves, and are now scattered across central America and fighting to preserve their cultural identity.

That may sound a worthy reason for starting a band, but there was nothing solemn in their rousing London debut. They came on determined to have a good time, reworking the album's thoughtful, sturdy and melodic songs with startlingly energetic, at times funky, new settings.

The band consisted mostly of beefy men wearing jeans and very loud shirts. Palacio, somewhat more soberly dressed, made the introductions, explaining that..."Amunegu is a song that asks what is going to happen to our language," before matching his forceful band with vocals which ranged from the soulful to rousing reminders that he was once a pop star, back in the era of punta rock in the early 90s.

The experience has served him well, for he is a confident and skilful showman. After winning over the crowd with the rousing opening, he changed direction. He veered into Buena Vista territory by bringing on Paul Nabor, a remarkable 79-year old singer-songwriter with a battered grey suit, straw hat and a powerful rasping voice, who was greeted with screams of delight by the Belize contingent in the hall. Then came slower, sturdy songs to show off the band's classy, chiming guitar work, and percussive, chanting passages that now echoed Africa rather than the Caribbean or the Americas. A memorable debut. ... 94,00.html