In Charlotteville and other rural Tobago communities, music at open-air celebrations and Christmas/Old Year’s festivities is often given an ear-splitting percussive accompaniment. Loved by small boys for the incredibly loud, cannon-like explosion that’s produced, the tradition of “bustin’ the bamboo” remains a popular – if rather dangerous – sport. To achieve the desired earth-shaking report, the prospective buster must have the know-how to first select a piece of bamboo of the correct age and durability with at least four or five internal joints, and then cut the section so that joints seal each end. A hole is pierced at one end, and the bamboo is filled with pitch oil (kerosene) from a slit at the opposite end. The fuel is lit and fanned until it heats up sufficiently to blow out the remaining joints, which creates the resounding boom and often results in the loss of eyelashes and moustaches.

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