Boom and Chime of Mr. Peters
Wilfred Peters began playing the accordion at the age of seven, instructed by his father, as they toiled in a logging camp near the Suburn River in Belize. The music was based in Creole, Jamaican Mento and Calypso, syncopated rhythms, and the Afrikaner style of phrase and response, refined through generations in the Mahogany camps. “We didn’t have radio back then,” Peters has joked. In fact, very much like Caribbean Calypso and Guanacaste folk music, Belizean Creole is a form of music with a lot of wit, as well as being a way to spread news and gossip.
|A Young Wilfred|
In 1970, Mr. Peters was making five dollars a day as a construction worker in Belize City. He decided to form a trio and start playing at night in the clubs there. Within a short amount of time, The Mahogany Chips were performing for five dollars a show. They quickly changed their name to Mr. Peters and his Boom & Chime, a name used for a local percussion instrument that is struck on one side with a wooden mallet (the boom side), and the other (the chime side) with a drum sack. Many regional musicians, in fact, prefer playing “found” instruments, such as the jawbone of an ass or conch shells. The music has been dubbed “Brukown” and Wilfred Peters has been proclaimed its king. After sixty years of playing this Belizean music, Mr. Peters was recruited to record a CD with Stonetree Records, the quintessential recording company in Belize. The result is a continuous frolic through eleven Peter’s original songs, along with two traditional tunes, titled, “Weh Mi Lova Deh”.
I asked Ivan Duran, Stonetree’s founder and president, what he remembered about recording the band for this disc. “A lot of fun recording them. And lots of rum,” he joked. “They never liked repeating songs more than a couple times. It kept the music fresh.” The band consists of Mr. Peters on vocals, accordion and banjo, Mr. Lenox Blades on electric guitar and backing vocals, with Mr. Egbert Beltran on jaw bone as well as backing vocals. Wilfred’s son, Mr. Wilfred Peters, Jr., plays the boom drum and ding-a-ling, while Mr. Francis “Swapy” Lewis is on the tumbas, known to the rest of us as congas. And that’s Mr. John Matura on the steady bass. The songs alternate between the Afrikaner/Mento styles of singing a line, with chorus refrain, such as the first song, “Llebam Bokotora”. Other songs follow the storyteller theme, such as “Man Wid No Uman” (Man with no Woman). There is definitely a barroom, zydeco influence in the music as well, something that encourages the listener to hoist another one and continue with the good times.
In 1997, Wilfred Peters performed for Queen Elizabeth when she awarded him with an MBE for cultural contributions. He has toured Mexico, Spain, France, and North America. He was awarded the Meritorious Medal by the Governor General of Belize in 2005. And now, The King of Brukdown, Mr. Peters and his Boom & Chime have graced us with a CD of his recordings, allowing us all to participate in his legacy. Wilfred Peters passed away last month and to commemorate his legacy, Stonetree has reissued the CD, which is available at the Jaime Peligro book stores in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos and Nuevo Arenal.All comments concerning this article are gladly welcome.