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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Dear Solidarity Rock friends, fans and supporters.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, ARRABIO were not able to secure their visas in order to leave Cuba and travel to Canada in time to make our scheduled tour opening show in Toronto this evening. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel our Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon shows. Our understanding is that there is a chance they will finally receive the visas Monday or Tuesday, so that’s what we’re waiting for. We have rescheduled their flights to reflect this and are planning on going ahead with the Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver area shows, and making up as many dates as possible on the prairies, to end the tour in Winnipeg.

This being the first time a Cuban punk band has been this close to leaving Cuba to tour, we feel like it’s especially important to believe in the possibility that it will all just work itself out, and prepare for the best time possible. We will release a revised itinerary and further information in the coming days.

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, download ARRABIO’s Full Length Album at

Solidarity Rock                                         


After months of fundraising and working out the logistics on the first ever international tour by a Cuban rock band, we are very proud to announce our next Solidarity Rock tour - this time, across CANADA!

We’re just in the final phases of releasing ARRABIO’s new recording Hecho En Trinidad, which was recorded in Trinidad in July 2012 by Vancouver recording engineer Jesse Gander, (which you can listen to directly below), so we’re bringing our friends to Canada to celebrate!

Big thanks to Edmonton NextGen, Steam Whistle, the Associacion Hermanos Saiz and Edmonton Arts Council for their continued support in everything we’re doing. We’ve also had the pleasure of partnering with musicians and artists across Cuba, and in Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles and Milwaukee. Without them, this would not happen. So, thank you from everyone involved with Solidarity Rock for all of the dedication and hardwork you have contributed, the 6 rock tours we’ve done in Cuba, recordings and this historical tour are all evidence of your awesomeness.

Here are the dates. Much more info coming soon.

09/29/2012 - TORONTO, ON
10/02/2012 - WINNIPEG, MB
10/03/2012 - REGINA, SK
10/04/2012 - SASKATOON, SK
10/05/2012 - EDMONTON, AB
10/06/2012 - CALGARY, AB
10/07/2018 - EDMONTON, AB
10/12/2012 - VANCOUVER, BC
10/13/2012 - ABBOTSFORD, BC

Check this post out! When we were in Havana, we met Ivan, the guitar player in a band called Viento Solar (which means Solar Winds). VS has been a band since 1975, Ivan grew up listening to 50’s rock n roll broadcast from Miami. We had a great time hanging out and talking, and this morning, he sent me a link to some of his photos from the Havana show! Check it out!

Thanks Ivan!

2012 Canada Solidarity Rock Exchange!


Dawn Jefe de la delegacion Canadiense e Ivan Fariñas


La banda de Punk canadiense en plena presentacion


Logan bateria de Oh Oh con Ivan Fariñas


Logan bateria de Oh Oh en plena accion

Modificado el ( Tuesday, 04 de September de 2012 )

Sam Reina Calvo’s latest set from the very recent Solidarity Rock tour featuring The Previous Tenants (Vancouver), Uh-Oh (Milwaukee), ARRABIO (Trinidad & Sancti Spiritus) and Adictox (Santa Clara).

[Click on the image to see the slideshow]

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.

Photos by Sam

Some images we share during Hang Loose Cuban Tour.

Follow the link to flickr for more images

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.


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

Canadian photographer, Sandy Phimester provides a fascinating portrait of life on the back of the bus in Cuba touring with Canadian punk rock band, Kids on Fire and Cuban punk rock band Arrabio as part of Solidarity Rock’s effort to spread the love in rock & roll Cuban style.

The tour bus, on the streets of Santa Clara, a beautiful city The tour bus, on the streets of Santa Clara, a beautiful city.

Going back to Cuba for a third time in less than a year makes me think, long and hard about what is really going on there with Solidarity Rock. But I think it’s more than that, it’s figuring out our future, as a whole, and as individuals. When we go there, it’s like being brought into a different family, often we sit around the table and share our stories and our thoughts, we are made to feel very much a part of something that a lot of tourists never get to even get a glimpse of, let alone experience. I feel honored by that, I feel lucky… very lucky. I simply cannot express how it feels, it is very much like having a home away from home. Where do things go from here? Well, we shall see, we will work it out together.

We all spend a lot of time on the tour bus, luckily it’s large, and has lots of room) for everyone and the gear. It’s often a time of peace, a time to catch up on sleep, or listen to music and stare endlessly out the window at all the things that pass us by. At other times it’s when we can all have a great discussion and share a lot of laughs, it’s a safe place that we all feel comfortable with, I know I’ve been so thankful for it on many occasions.

Happy to be there! Happy to be there!
It’s not just all-new for the Canadians on the trip either, a few of the Cuban musicians had never really been on a tour bus before, or played very much in other parts of Cuba. You could tell that it was something special to get on that bus and hit the road; you could feel that, a very tangible sense of excitement and adventure. When we left Cuba, one of the musicians had said, “We’re going to the Airport? I’ve never been to one before”, I guess that makes sense, and puts things into perspective a little bit. Things are very different…

A few of my favorite moments have been experienced while driving at night back from a show, staring out at the ocean while the moonlight reflects delicately on the water, talking in the dark with the windows down, the fresh humid air rushing in. Talking about life, when we were kids, the places we always wanted to go, where we had been and why it was always so special to us. Hearing stories of visiting the ocean or going camping in the mountains from the Cuban friends, and our stories, which seem so similar in many ways… It’s wonderful. I truly enjoy this time on the bus.

Having a quick drink at the Hotel Plaza in Sancti Spiritus. A great retreat from the heat of the day. Having a quick drink at the Hotel Plaza in Sancti Spiritus. A great retreat from the heat of the day.
The live shows were pretty incredible and the language of punk rock and rock are truly universal and I think that no real barriers can exist when you break it down into its finest elements. Everyone loves to rock out and express themselves in their own way. I’ve said it before, but the amount of audience participation at the shows is quite wonderful, back home it’s not so often that you see a large group of people really rocking out at the live shows. In Cuba, it seems to be the norm, for what reason I can’t really say, but it sure puts a lot of energy in the room, the whole venue just feels alive. People truly seem appreciative of this sort of thing, it’s something special, and I’m sure that notion is not lost on anyone involved.

It was HOT, like… HOT! With humidity, some days it was hovering around +50c! One day that we spent on the beach (the only day) nearly sent a few of us into some serious trouble with heat stroke. It was unrelenting at times, everyone was a sweaty mess most of the time, except our Cuban friends, who definitely disliked the extreme heat but did not seem nearly as physically battered by it as we were. The word we used to describe it was oppressive, it was an attack from early morning to late at night. Even at live shows the heat would take its toll, you drink a lot more water than you’d ever think you could.

Live shots from the AHS in Trinidad again, while Arrabio is playing their show after Hang Loose opened. Live shots from the AHS in Trinidad again, while Arrabio is playing their show after Hang Loose opened.
Things have been moving quickly since the last trip earlier this year, we’ve been dreaming up some really great plans for the future, and I’m just overwhelmed with how important and personally touching this has been for me. I’ve made some life long friends out of this, and had a glimpse into a whole other world of possibilities when it comes to passion and creativity.

Since the last trip, Drew has helped send down many more instruments and music supplies, which were promptly taken away by authorities when they arrived, but the Solidarity Rock movement has been gaining so much steam that after some talks and local pressure, the gear was released and given back to the folks who need it most. All is well!

In one month from now we will be embarking on the biggest tour yet, with a band from Vancouver, Vicious Cycles, and the plans we have once we are down there are going to be incredible (let’s hope it all works out!).

Cuba is a very beautiful place, the people we have made connections with are truly some of the kindest souls I’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing, we’ve all helped each other so much, it’s hard to imagine life without this.

Out back of the AHS, a beautiful little area, great for band photos and taking some film photos Out back of the AHS, a beautiful little area, great for band photos and taking some film photos
About Solidarity Rock
Solidarity Rock is an artist run organization working to partner musicians, artists and creative people in Cuba, Canada and beyond. It was started by Drew in 2007. The core of the movement is to help rock and roll thrive in Cuba. Sure, rock and roll has been there. But not too long ago, being a punk rocker, a metal head, a rocker, was discouraged. Solidarity Rock, with the support of Canadian musicians, hold benefit shows, raise awareness and funds, and collect gear they might not need anymore. A patch cord, guitar strings, an old amp, a bass, drum pieces, no donation is too great or small! The equipment is taken down to Cuba and distributed to the people who need it the most. In the past, something as simple as a guitar string could put an entire band on hold for a few weeks, while phone calls were made across the province(s) in Cuba looking for someone who might have a solution. While that is still the case in some parts of Cuba, things are changing, a lot. There is now equipment for bands to share, and people have access to music and expression like never before. The initiative has been a huge success.

Here is a write up from the AHS’s national page about the Vicious Cycles show that didn’t end up making it past two bands, because the power blew. They tried to re-route some juice from the street lights, but it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen. Either way, interesting words from the AHS site.

Banda canadiense Vicious Cycles.

Un viernes 13 con punk-rock en La Madriguera

Lázaro J. González González

La Madriguera, sede capitalina de la Asociación Hermanos Saíz,  prepara para este viernes 13 a las seis de la tarde el gran concierto de punk-rock William Fabián in Memoriam. El espectáculo, que tendrá entrada libre, contará con la presencia de las bandas Kallejeros Kondenados, Limalla, Akupunktura, Eskoria, Gatillo, Arrabio y como invitados espaciales a la banda canadiense Vicious Cycles, de gira por Cuba en estos momentos.

El punk- rock es un género musical dentro del rock que emergió a mediados de los años 1970, caracterizado por su actitud independiente y amateur. En sus inicios, el punk era una música muy simple y cruda, a veces descuidada: un tipo de rock sencillo, con melodías simples de duraciones cortas, sonidos de guitarras amplificadas poco controlados o ruidosos, pocos arreglos e instrumentos, y, por lo general, de compases y tempos rápidos. A la vez, el punk  ha creado una cultura: la de la libertad individual, que tiende a generar creencias en conceptos tales como el individualismo y el pensamiento libre.

William Fabián era el cantante líder de Escoria, agrupación que lideró ese movimiento musical en Cuba y falleció en el año 2010. A él se rinde este homenaje, el cual se realiza por segunda ocasión.

One Friday 13 with punk-rock at The Madriguera

J. Lazarus González González

El Madriguera, home of the Associacion Hermanos Saiz in the Cuban Captial, is preparing for a great punk-rock concert in memory of William Fabian, which goes on at 6:00 Friday January 13. The show, which will have free admission, will feature the bands Kallejera Kondenados, Limalla, Akupunktura, Eskoria, Gatillo, Arrabio and special guests from Canada, The Vicious Cycles, who are touring Cuba right now.
Punk-rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s, characterized by its independent and amateur attitude. In its beginnings, punk music was a very simple and crude, sometimes discounted, a simple type of music, with short songs, simple melodies, guitar sounds and loud, uncontrolled amplification. Few complex arangements or instruments, and generally bars of fast tempos. At the same time, punk has created a culture: that of individual freedom, which tends to create beliefs in concepts such as individualism and free thought.

William Fabian was the lead singer of Eskora, a group that led the musical movement in Cuba and died in 2010. This show is a tribute to him, which is done for a second time.

William Garcia - Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

In my mind I still gat the Vicious Cycles songs, all the good times we had together in this tour, all the good friends we met on this tour. Lots of pics to show and lots of things to write. In the meanwhile I would like to thank all the people who help this tour happened, all the bands and all the people who went to the SR shows in the different cities, without you it wouldn’t have been possible any of the pics you will see and all the stories to be told. Every one who donated anything, from strings, pics, cords, guitars, base, cloths, thanks so much it means so much for all the kids and for what we have been doing for all this years with the project. I hope more people and more bands have the opportunity to come and see what we are talking about what we have created together. This world will never be the same and this country will never be the same thanks to every little help of you guys, it is really hard but no one said it will have be easy, and if it will have been easy I guess we wouldn’t be doing it. Every single steps on the way counts and be sure all you do is helping people to have a different point of view and is making people get reach as individuals and cultural spirit.

There’s so much more coming from this tour.