Hot! The Stonetree Boys

They say the jungle is a noisy place, filed with the sounds of birds, monkeys, jaguars and insects. This is true, but another sound of Belize comes to life at night – the musicians. Belize could rival Austin, Texas for the diversity of its ubiquitous troubadours.

On my second night, I moved down the road to the active village of San Ignacio. Even though this town was the main West Side hub, I was only steps out of my hotel room before I ran into someone I knew. The Stonetree Boys were chilling outside the bank and in a few minutes they were taking me to a favorite dinner spot and educating me on the music of Belize.

Eric and Colin, and their third buddy Derrick, had been in Belize for nearly two months working for Stonetree Records in the small border village of Benque Viejo del Carmen. Colin had discovered the label while researching their trip to Central America and on a whim contacted the owner about an internship.

It turned out to be one of those serendipitous matches. While it might be easy to dismiss three 20-something boys on a backpacking hiatus between jobs and school, the Stonetree Boys easily defy the “youth is wasted on the young” stereotype. All were pursuing their passions of music and technology with a healthy blend of traditional education and life experience. In just a few short weeks at Stonetree, they had already had a hand in producing world-class musicians.

It might also be easy to dismiss Stonetree Records as a low-budget indie label pushing out cheap recordings of mediocre drum circles. But for more than a decade, the studio has been promoting the unique musical styles of Belize and the region. It’s part documentary – capturing the traditional sounds of the Garifuna, Creole and Mayan cultures – and part innovation, encouraging creativity and experimentation.

And while budgets may be low, the quality and marketing of the Belizian culture through its albums is not. Stonetree’s role in sharing the sounds of the region to the country and the world is everywhere. Listening stations are in restaurants and stores around San Ignacio, the artists videos play on buses, and there is an annual music festival in Benque.

After dinner, we walk to a nearby store where Eric and Collin recommend their favorite artists to me. It’s one of best travel souvenir – a soundtrack that recalls the sights, adventures and friends that came from one week in Belize.

Belize Playlist

  • Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective – Watina
  • From Bakabush – The First Ten Years of Stonetree

Resources
Stonetree Records
Friend the Stonetree Boys on Facebook under the name Central America Trip

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the GFA