It is safe to say that Punta Rock was born in the late 70’s in Belize
through an experimental process led by Pen Cayetano and the Turtle Shell
Band. Based in Dangriga Town in Southern Belize, Pen and his musician
colleagues successfully fused the drumming and percussion with electric
guitar licks and catchy lyrics. While many of the songs included the use
of the Belizean lingua franca, Kriol, the prevailing language of Punta
Rock was (and continues to be) Garifuna.
The trajectory of what is today called “Punta Rock” spans just over
three decades and four countries. Often times, Punta Rock combines two
up-tempo rhythms from Garifuna secular music – Punta and Paranda.
The basic instrumentation generally included two hand beaten drums
(bass and treble) maracas and a set of turtle shells.
These were embellished with rhythm guitar strumming and
call and response vocals over a driving beat. This is what was
“christened” by Pen Cayetano as “Punta Rock”. It was meant to rock you!
Mohobub Flores was one of the pioneers of the genre, as a member of the
Turtle Shell Band. He has since pursued a solo career and continues to
record and perform in his distinctive “roots and culture” style.
Dangriga-based Sounds Incorporated took the genre to another level when
they acquired a set of electronic equipment including synthesizers,
samplers, electronic drum kit and a powerful PA system. With this kind
of hardware in the mid eighties, they took the sound and established
national recognition for themselves as a band as well as for the music
in its own right. Chico Ramos was the drummer and one of the lead
vocalists of Sounds Incorporated. Since then, he has gone on to record
and perform as a solo artist, turning out a string of hits over the past
Even as bands proceeded to find their place on the Belizean music scene,
individual artistes emerged and made their presence felt. Today, Punta
Rock as an art form remains vibrant, diverse and dynamic and Punta
Paradise reflects these three characteristics accurately. As a band,
Ügüraü began its journey in Los Angeles. However, its success really
came when the equipment was shipped to Dangriga and a new set of
musicians was recruited. They soon became the most sought after backing
band for the leading Punta Rock artistes.
Punta Rebels, at the turn of the Millenium, were the undisputed monsters
of Punta Rock. The sported the dynamic trio on the front line, which
included Lloyd Augustine, “Reckless” Flores and “Supa G” Martinez. It
was clear that Punta Rebels were destined for Punta Rock royalty but the
band’s demise in the early 2000’s paved the way for active solo careers
for the flamboyant “Supa G” as well as the duo, “Lloyd and Reckless”.
Griga Boyz took over where Punta Rebels left off, creating mass hysteria
among a younger generation of Punta Rock fans. Their reputation was
boosted by their collaboration with Los Angeles based Aziatic, who has
emerged as one of Punta Rock’s greatest innovators, incorporating the
use of video clips for greater impact.
While Punta Rock may have come to light in Belize, the role of the
diasporic Belizean community has been significant. There was a demand
for the genre Belizean musicians in the area felt obliged to satisfy.
Dayann Ellis aka “Nuru” was the former guitarist of the now defunct
“Sound City Band” from Dangriga. After migrating to the U.S. he joined
forces with other Central American musicians and formed “Punta Cartel”,
whose style reflects the Caribbean flavour of Belize and the Latin
flavours of Honduras and Guatemala.
The influence of Guatemala and Honduras on Punta Rock is most
noteworthy. From its early beginnings, there was an audience for Punta
Rock in the Garifuna communities along the Caribbean coast of Central
America. Recordings of Belizean Punta Rockers such as Dangriga’s
prolific Titiman Flores found their way into Honduras and Guatemala and
became a source of inspiration to local musicians who successfully gave
it their own twist. Variations in language regionalisms, instrumentation
and tempos expanded the genre through the contributions of the likes of
Guatemala’s Paula Castillo and Aurelio Martinez from Honduras. There are
now several recognized bands and solo artistes from both countries
including many who are based in the U.S.A.
Punta Rock knows no limits. From jam sessions in the rural communities
of Belize to major international festivals in Europe and Asia, the
journey continues. Belize’s Andy Palacio has helped to introduce the
music into the international arena through print, radio and television
and as the Punta Rock family grows bigger, so does its strength and
energy. It is only a matter of time before the whole world recognizes
that Punta rocks!