Garifuna International - Harlem Meer, Central Park - August 30, 2015
The Garifuna people have a long convoluted background that mixed Carib and African roots. Their resistance to being colonized ended with exile (by the British) in the late 18th century from the island of St. Vincent. Their diaspora put many on the eastern coast of Central America, where they remain a cohesive society. Those on the USA mainland keep in touch with their Caribbean and African roots in many ways, including the music. Here I experienced the latest new-to-me percussion instrument: turtle shells. The players in this band hailed from a variety of south-of-the-border locales, and I’m not sure if they are all Garifuna. Singer Gamboa is the public face of the band, and the only one I could find anything about online. The post-gig scene was so noisy and scattered that I was not able to accurately document the names, but I figured I would be able to track them down later on the web. Not so, and the identity of some of the players – you know, the ones with questionable penmanship – may remain shrouded in perpetual mystery. Even the ones whose signatures I could decipher had no trace on the non-social-media hunk of the web that is my source of info. My numerical designations are unsatisfactory, but that’s the deal for now.