Solidarity Rock

Solidarity Rock is an artist run organization working to partner musicians, artists and creative people in Cuba, Canada and eyond. Since 2008, we have been working to collect instruments and musical equipment to help our friends in Cuban rock bands find their own way through music.
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Woah! Solidarity Rock is in a beer commercial!

Steam Whistle has been a huge support to Solidarity Rock events in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. We have been really amazed by their continued generosity to the arts in Canada, and beyond just sponsoring our events (which mean that we can do significantly more with our time and efforts) they really do a great job with helping grow Canadian music and art culture.

One of the ways they do that is through their unsigned series. They book a bar, get great bands and throw a party. Steam Whistle pays the acts, and all the costs and offers a really low cover price which they donate to a charitable cause, generally arts related. This July, Solidarity Rock was the benefactor for the Vancouver edition at the Biltmore Cabaret, featuring Acres of Lions, Familia and Rococode.

I’m please to say, Jesse Gander made it back home with a couple of recordings under his belt, and his band Previous Tenants are proven road warriors after having toured Cuba with Uh-Oh (Milwaukee, WI), ARRABIO (Trinidad) and Adictox (Santa Clara).

Thanks to the community support we receive everywhere we go, and the ongoing support Steam Whistle and others have offered us, we are able to do awesome things. Like bring a producer to Cuba to make punk rock recordings, and bring the first US punk band on tour in Cuba, along with a bus full of Canadians and Cubans.

We’re also raising money right now to bring our friends ARRABIO to Canada to be the first Cuban rock band to tour outside Cuba. They’re the first Cuban DIY band to tour inside Cuba, so it’s fitting. We’ve got a huge fundraiser coming up this weekend in Edmonton, and once again, Steam Whistle is helping out. We’ve got bands all weekend playing at the Inglewood Hall, a photography exhibit, and a bunch of Steam Whistles.

More news about the tour coming soon!


See you at the show!

Solidarity Rock had a great show in Vancouver last weekend at the Biltmore Cabaret. The Vicious Cycles, Slow Learners, Radii and Previous Tenants came together to raise some money and possibilities for our friends in Cuban rock bands. The show was well attended and in the end, we raised just about $1000. A big thanks needs to go out to everyone involved, including bands, the venue and Steamwhistle.

This money that was raised is going to Cuba to help with our work. Friday night, Drew McIntosh, Jesse Gander and Barry Higginson will be flying into Varadero to be met by our steady partners William Garcia and crew. We’ll be taking up residence in Trinidad for a week while Jesse turns knobs and teaches our friends the ins and outs of mobile recording. He’ll be producing two (hopefully) full length records for ARRABIO and Adictox, two of Cuba’s most well known and hardest working underground bands. Then, we’re heading on tour.

This tour will be different than all the rest that came before it, as we’re bringing two Cuban bands, a Canadian band and a US band on the road for shows in 7 cities across the country. This is only possible thanks to the support we’ve received in places like the Biltmore. So, thanks.

We’ve had some pretty amazing and generous support from Steamwhistle. Not only did they sponsor this event, but they’ve lent a hand for our previous benefits in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Steamwhistle is an independent brewery based in Toronto and they do a lot for the arts across Canada. I keep hearing stories about Whistles being dropped off at Jam spaces, recording sessions, parties, you name it. Steamwhistle goes the extra mile to support independent people doing great things, and without turning this into a commercial, you should all drink Steamwhistle beer and be thankful they care enough to reach out and support good things with their excellent beer.

On July 26, they’re doing it again with a Steamwhistle unsigned bands showcase, again at the Biltmore in Vancouver. Solidarity Rock is lucky enough to be the beneficiary of this fine evening, featuring Acres of Lions, Rococode and Familia. This unsigned series is great in that Steamwhistle pays the bands, the venue and promotion of the event and give 100% of the proceeds to a targeted cause, this time Solidarity Rock. It’s pretty amazing. So, if you’re in Vancouver, check it out. Here’s a Facebook event listing.

Ok folks/friends.

We just got home a couple weeks ago, and we’ve already got tickets to head back to the beautiful island of Cuba. This time, we’re going to do something even more astounding.

It gives me nothing but pleasure to announce that we’re bringing the ability to record and preserve the DIY rock music we’ve helped create over the years.



Vancouver’s Jesse Gander, head recording engineer at the Hive Creative Labs is going to be joining us from July 21 to 28 for a recording session in Sancti Spiritus. William Garcia has found a spot to set up and get it done, and we’ll be recording his band Arrabio, based in Trinidad, and a band called Adictox from Santa Clara. Big things are happening with independent art and music in Sancti Spiritus, kids are growing up with punk rock, tattoo artists are moving in and setting up shop because that’s where all the “freakies” are, young visual artists are engaged with the musicians, creating a new and exciting creative community, and we hope that their ability to record music and disseminate it with fewer barriers will help that process even more.

When we first got to Sancti Spiritus, it was a sleepy town, now we can see how art and music can transform people and places.

Even better than that is the fact that we’re hitting the road again for what will be the 5th Solidarity Rock tour, and the 6th DIY tour ever, if you count the 7and7is tour in 2007 which started it all (and we do).

July 29 - August 8 will see some amazing things going down.

Jesse’s band the Previous Tenants will be ripping though our usual haunts and for the first time ever, we’ll be joined by a brave group of American musicians, a DIY punk rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin called Uh-Oh. We’ll be doing it international styles in Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad, Jatibonico, Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Havana and more!



Not only that, but as always, we’re bringing Arrabio from Trinidad, and for the first time, Adictox from Santa Clara. We’ll be raising money at our upcoming Solidarity Rock shows in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Edmonton to accomplish our tasks. We hope to see you there! Watch out for Solidarity Rock shows and projects coming your way, be part of it all. Estamos Juntos en Esto! We’re in this together and we’re making a difference.



I asked our friends and partners in Vancouver and Winnipeg to write up some show reports from their latest Solidarity Rock events in those fine western Canadian cities!

Joel Tong from Previous Tenants and What’s Wrong Tohei waxed philosophical about Vancouver. The show was May 4th at Lana Lou’s and featured Safety Show, Philoceraptor and Previous Tenants.

We all but drowned in the heat and sweat of Vancouver. And this was the beginning of May on the darkened block of Powell Street. Solidarity Rock is set to bring us to Cuba in August. If my maths are right, we will return as drawn gazelles.

Thank you, LanaLou’s. You let a lot of beautiful people into your restaurant. Now that i have had my ears pierced by Philoceraptor i am shopping for an appropriate weed leaf and tennis racquet to hang from the new holes in my head. They changed me like a diaper. Also, it was good to see Steve Spielberg back in Safety Show again. Beyond putting alien worlds in both of my eyes, he reached into my soul. I swear, it was like i could touch him.

These are things that have been happening. This is going to happen again. This is the kind of thing that will bring Cuban underground music to the rest of the world.

-Previous Tenants

Well, Vancouver’s Vicious Cycles have indeed left their mark on Cuba. Arrabio’s hard shreddin guitar player Douglas has what’s probably the first ever VCMC tattoo!

Skinny Tim of the Vicious Cycles runs a guitar studio in Vancouver called Anchor Guitar Studio. He’s writing about his experience on the tour in his blog. Here it is.

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Cuba is a beautiful country, the biggest island in the Caribbean. Our caravan in Cuba was over 15 people, including two bands, The Vicious Cycles, and Arrabio. Photographer Sandy Phimister and tour liason Drew McIntosh from Edmonton, guitar tech James ‘eye drop’ Gamble from Calgary, three translators from Cuba, and our fearless Cuban tour manager William Garcia. The trip went off with very few problems considering how many people were involved.

We traveled around in an old school bus most likely form the 80’s, the bus was donated from a group in Portland called ‘Pastors for Peace’. The bus was painted by people and artists in Oregon, covered in slogans of peace, and community. Our bus driver used to race motorcycles, I would classify him as a first class driver, he could really get outta a tight spot. Once or twice we went the wrong way down a highway, luckily the mistake was caught before we got off the on ramp!

The streets in Cuban villages look like they are out of a museum, ‘art deco cities’, something all right about organized maze like streets in Cuba. We spent the first three nights in Sancti Spiritus, what would become our temporary home. We all got familiar with the streets, and places to buy ham sandwiches, and streetza (street pizza). The friends and family that we met in Sancti Spiritus took us in with open arms, feeding us, showed us around the city. Their hospitality was second to none, we wanted to bring all the friends home with us.

Rock and roll happened on the third night of the trip, and would continue till the end of our time in Cuba. We rolled up to La Feria, and found the stone pavilion we would be playing in. When we got to the spot there were no lights, no PA, no crowd, no power, in fact there was not much that we did not have. Luckily people are very handy in a tight spot in the Caribbean, within a couple minutes the lights showed up in the back of an old pickup, the stage was set with the PA, and speakers, and the kids started to stream in. That first night was something else, something to remember for a long time.

Click here for the Anchor Guitar Studios Blog

Sandy Phimester is a seriously talented photographer. He has accompanied Solidarity Rock on the last three tours in Cuba, and each time he blows everyone away with his work. Check out his latest series from the Vicious Cycles’ January 2012 Solidarity Rock tour! Unreal.

The Vicious Cycles - You Ain’t So Tuff -
Live cellphone video from Varadero, Cuba

Check out some live action from Vancouver’s Vicious Cycles in Varadero, Cuba.

THE VICIOUS CYCLES - I LOVE MY BIKE in Cuba - Music Video

Billy Bones’ of the Vicious Cycles put this video together from their recent Solidarity Rock tour in Cuba. If you like bikes, good times and rocknroll, you should check it out!

THE VICIOUS CYCLES - HIGH AND WILD IN CUBA

Our buddies in the Vicious Cycles put together a great little music video for their song High and Wild. It was shot entirely on a cell phone and looks great. In this video, you will see our friends and stomping grounds across central Cuba. Check it out!