12/06/13 - Daily Caller - 'Hard Rock Havana': Could heavy metal music change Cuba?
In eulogizing the great 20th century Czech revolutionary and playwright,
Rolling Stone observed: "It took a Czechoslovakian rock band that
worshipped Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground to make Vaclav Havel
realize the true power of rebellion."
Could music help usher in a a similar "Velvet Revolution" some 90 miles
south of Miami? According to Nicholas Brennan, director of a forthcoming
documentary Hard Rock Havana, a thriving heavy metal scene has created
an outlet for rebellion and free expression.
While the U.S. government funds Radio Marti as part of an overt attempt to
undermine the Castro regime, the best propaganda often isn't propaganda at
all. A prime example of this, Brennan told me, comes from Diony Arce,
the lead singer of the Zeus (the most legendary metal band in Cuba) who is
profiled in the film.
When Arce was a kid, Brennan explains, he would walk on the beach to the
northern most point in Havana "holding a radio up into the air to try to
get the reception from Miami - where he was hearing these sounds that
they'd never heard before - you know, Metallica, Pantera, coming through
the radio signals from Miami."
Could rock music be one of America's great exports? To paraphrase Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, politics might literally be (90 miles) downstream from
"The big question," Brennan says, "is what creates a space for an actual
change?" And in that regard, he credits "the arts and cultural world,"
noting that "the intellectuals are creating a space to have that
conversation on the island."
Brennan believes that in Cuba, heavy metal is about more than just blowing
off some steam. "These are some of Cuba's loudest citizens," he says.
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