Los Angeles Celebrates 30 Year Music Career of World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter AURELIO MARTINEZ on SATURDAY, May 16th 2015

 

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Los Angeles, California  — SKM Promotions presents a Show celebrating the 30 Year Music career of International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez in Los Angeles, California on SATURDAY, May 16th 2015.

Let’s make a distinction here.  When discussing Entertainment as far as Garifuna Musical Artists are concerned, you have Concerts and Shows that are also Parties.

In a concert, typically, the Band, Singer, etc sings from atop a stage or an elevated platform in a theater or performance hall and performs.  Theatrical in scope, for the most part, the audience sits and listens to the singer or musical group in question and other than say, lyrics that are call-and-response in structure, audience engagement is nil.

However, at a Show or Party, the Singer, Band / Musical Group performs at a Bar, Nightclub, Church Basement, Apartment Complex, Community Center, Park, Playground,  etc.  While the artist in question generally performs from atop some sort of elevated platform or a roped off area, the dynamics of the performance allows for more intimacy and interaction with the artist and audience engagement.

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One aspect of performance and audience engagement I typically witness during Garifuna Musical Shows or Parties is what’s called Rebane1

Rebane or Rebanar is a Spanish verb used in Honduras that pretty much means sexy fun.  During Garifuna musical performances It refers to the segment of a Punta Rock show where an audience member–typically a woman–at the behest of the Garifuna musical artist, appears in the performance area and dances suggestively or in a sexy manner as the Garifuna singer / performer urges them on by singing and chanting.  Below is video of Aurelio Martinez performing in 2010 at Club Pan Americana in Los Angeles.

Usually, during these segments of a Punta Rock Show, people will get on the stage (again, typically women) and get to demonstrate their Punta Dance skills.  In Honduras, there are Honduran musical groups (which feature a mix of both Garifuna and Non-Garifuna performers) like Chicas Roland, who shrewdly incorporate rebane into their stage show.

In essence, Women dancers perform with the musicians, dance suggestively and their titillation helps (along with partiers dancing on the dance floor) provide a level of excitement that proves to be commercially lucrative in entertainment.  Here’s video of a Honduran musical group, I’m not sure who this is, probably Honduran Group Chicas Rolands, performing in 2013.  Pay attention to the dancing by the women dancers in the group.  If you can men, try not to drool as the backsides of these ladies bounce, tremble, rumble and twitch like lotto balls flying around in the lotto machine.

This particular practice upsets many, who see it as a level of prostitution–an exploitation for money of Garifuna cultural dancing.  Here’s video of a lady, who scantily clad, dances her interpretation of the Punta Dance on stage during a show.  When I see video like this, I can’t help but have my eyeballs pop out of my head.

What do you think of this practice?  Please write below, if you’d like to share your thoughts.  Also, please leave a comment below, if any of the above information is wrong.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez and Garifuna American Performer Lil June in Los Angeles in 2015.  Photo courtesy of Aurelio Martinez via Facebook.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez and Garifuna American Performer Lil June in Los Angeles in 2015. Photo courtesy of Aurelio Martinez via Facebook.

Providing musical support for Aurelio Martinez during this show will be Belizean Garifuna Musical Group, Punta Cartel.   Also, Garifuna American singer Lil June will also perform at this show.  Music will be provided by DJ Kool Gwaff Sounds.

Show Celebrating the 30 Year Music Career of International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez in Los Angeles on SATURDAY, May 16th 2015.

Show Celebrating the 30 Year Music Career of International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez in Los Angeles on SATURDAY, May 16th 2015.

Tickets will be $25 in advance, $35 at the door.  VIP tickets will be $60.  Those who are interested in buying tickets to this concert can call (323) 797-0034 or (718) 606-5364.

This special show will take place at Mi Palazio Banquet Hall.  Doors open at 9pm PST.

Mi Palazio Banquet Hall

1000 W. 70th Street (at S. Vermont Avenue)

Los Angeles, California 90044

 About Aurelio Martinez

(from the ABOUT Section on the Aurelio Martinez Website) 2

Born in the tiny coastal hamlet of Plaplaya on Honduras’ Caribbean coast, Aurelio Martinez, may be one of the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna tradition. These traditions encompass the African and Caribbean Indian roots of his ancestors, a group of shipwrecked slaves who intermarried with local natives on the island of St. Vincent, only to be deported to the Central American coast in the late eighteenth century.

Martinez recalls his humble but highly musical beginnings in his remote hometown. “In the village I was born, there is still no electricity,” Martinez told Afropop Worldwide in a 2006 interview. “When I was a child, I had very natural toys. My first toy was a guitar I built for myself from wood taken from a fishing rod. So that’s how I played my first chords.”

He learned these chords from his family, including his father, a well-loved local troubadour who improvised playful paranda songs that embrace Garifuna roots and Latin sounds. He became a drummer almost as soon as he began to walk, thanks to his uncles and grandfather. From his vocally talented mother, he learned to sing and picked up many songs she crafted.

Superstar Garifuna Singer Musician AURELIO MARTINEZ at Lincoln Center in 2010.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Superstar Garifuna Singer Musician AURELIO MARTINEZ at Lincoln Center in 2010. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

A prodigy of percussion, Martinez began performing at Garifuna ceremonies when just a boy, even at the most sacred events where children were usually not allowed. By the time he left Plaplaya to attend school at 14, he was a respected musician with a firm grounding in Garifuna rhythms, rituals, and songs.

While attending secondary school at the provincial capital of La Cieba, Martinez dove into diverse and innovative musical projects that took him outside the traditional sphere of performance. He played professionally with popular Latin ensembles, wrote music for theater and pop groups, and refined his musical skills with private teachers.

He soon founded a Garifuna ensemble, Lita Ariran, one of the first Garifuna groups to appear on an internationally distributed recording. Martinez’s virtuosic musicianship and passionate performances made him a mainstay of the La Cieba music scene, where he was best loved for his take on punta rock, the high-energy, Garifuna roots-infused pop genre that took Central America by storm in the 1990s.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu set at The BIKO Center in Brooklyn in 2011.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez during an impromptu set at The BIKO Center in Brooklyn in 2011. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

His musical career took a global turn thanks to his Belizean friend and fellow musician Andy Palacio, who organized a major Garifuna festival and invited Martinez. The two artists struck up a decades-long friendship thanks in part to their shared hopes for the future of Garifuna music and culture.

Through Palacio Martinez met Ivan Duran, the tireless producer behind Belize’s Stonetree Records, and participated in a compilation of paranda, the Latin-inspired genre his father had favored, a style that was slowly dying out among the Garifuna. The comparatively youthful Martinez, youngest of the three generations on the recording, proved that the music was still alive and kicking.

With Duran, Martinez began thinking about the evolution of the music he had grown up with, and his first solo album Garifuna Soul (2004) explored his roots in both paranda and traditional rhythms. Martinez’s richly resonant voice and soulful acoustic songs caught the attention of the global music press and put Martinez on the map as a tradition-bearer with an innate musicality and subtle innovative streak.

Aurelio Martinez's Garifuna Soul album.  (2004. StoneTree Records)

Aurelio Martinez’s Garifuna Soul album. (2004. StoneTree Records)

When not performing and recording, Martinez took on a new role in 2005: as a representative to the Honduran National Congress, the first of African descent in the country’s history. Devoting himself to a different approach to supporting and promoting Garifuna culture, Martinez set aside his music making for years as a legislator and politician.

However, it was Palacio, himself involved in politics in Belize, and Duran who brought Martinez back to his first calling, music. In 2008, Palacio passed away unexpectedly at the young age of 48, leaving the Garifuna community stunned and bereft. ”Aurelio was still a congressman, but he left the congress session to go to Belize for the funeral,” Duran recalls. “He hadn’t been playing guitar for months because of his intense political commitments. But after Andy’s passing, he gave a few concerts and he knew he needed to start recording right away.”

Laru Beya by Aurelio Martinez.  Released in 2011 by Stonetree Records / Sub Pop Records.

Laru Beya by Aurelio Martinez. Released in 2011 by Stonetree Records / Sub Pop Records.

Laru Beya was not only a way of honoring Palacio as a person; it was a means for continuing his mission of uplifting and expanding what it meant to be a Garifuna artist. Together with Duran, several veteran Garifuna musicians, and the occasional local ensemble dropping into the studio, Martinez began laying down the tracks for this recording in a cabana on the beach.

Taking up Palacio’s mantle as bard and advocate for his people, however, did not mean Martinez stopped his exploration of new approaches to Garifuna sounds, in particular their musical links with West Africa. Thanks to a mentorship with Afropop legend Youssou N’Dour (as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative), Martinez found himself in Senegal, learning from the stunning singer, rethinking his arrangements, and meeting everyone from big names in Dakar (Orchestra Baobob, who recorded with Martinez) to unknown talents hanging out in the back alleys of the city’s poor medina.

Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative Participants (2008-2009), AfroPop Music Star Youssou N'Dour and Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez.

Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative Participants (2008-2009), AfroPop Music Star Youssou N’Dour and Garifuna Singer Songwriter Aurelio Martinez.

The result is a lush journey marked with thoughtful reflections of the Garifuna past, the sometimes difficult present, and the promising glimmers of the future for artists like Martinez. “This album is about far more than just keeping tradition alive; it’s about urging people to action when they listen. We’re dealing with an emergency, and we don’t know if Garifuna music will survive,” muses Duran. “But this album will show people in Central America and around the world that Garifuna music is alive and well, and that artists are moving it forward.”

“We’re not going to let this culture die,” Martinez affirms. “I know I must continue the culture of my grandparents, of my ancestors, and find new ways to express it. Few people know about it, but I adore it, and it’s something I must share with the world.”

(Words: Tristra Newyear with help from Dmitri Vietze and Ivan Duran)

In 2015, Aurelio Martinez is in the midst of celebrating 30 years in the music business.  He is commemorating this milestone with a series of shows and concerts.  Namely, the All-Star Tribute Concert which took place in the Bronx in March 2015.

ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent. From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.  3

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In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

Los Angeles Show Celebrating the 30 Year Music Career of International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez on SATURDAY, May 16th 2015.

Los Angeles Show Celebrating the 30 Year Music Career of International World Music Star, Garifuna Singer Songwriter, Aurelio Martinez on SATURDAY, May 16th 2015.


Notes:

  1. http://nacerenhonduras.com/2012/05/hondurenismos.html
  2. https://aureliomusic.bandpage.com/
  3. Nancie L Gonzalez, “Sojourners of The Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pgs 21-23

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