Machete Men are a band of Cuban & American musicians amalgamating salsa with rock to create their own version of timba rock, or rockoson – a Cuban brand of rock en español. The band departs from their tropical roots and the “latin” clichés to incorporate elements of hard rock, punk and acid jazz, but always comes full circle as their platform is grounded in Cuban son, rumba and timba traditions. Their bi-cultural perspective gives them a wide variety of popular and folkloric influences from both sides of the Florida Straits, with songs in Spanish and English. The Machete Men sound crosses cultural, linguistic and musical boundaries, a synthesis of styles that reflects their Cuban-American identity.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Machete Men are twice removed from the rock movement in Cuba, but despite geography, Cuba is very much a part of the them, and it could be said that their hometown point of view is what sets them apart in the world of Cuban rock music. Core members Juanito Maribona, Jackson Coffey and Tom Kay all cut their teeth on the alt-rock, punk and metal scenes of the 80’s and 90’s yet found themselves playing Cuban music by the early 00’s. They met in ’09 playing in the traditional Cuban son group Caña Son and began formulating the idea of a band that would bring the best of the two seemingly opposing worlds together. A sound built on the infectious groove of the clave, the swagger of rock n’ roll and the piss and vinegar of punk rock. In the Summer of 2013 the brainchild was born on the shores of the Willamette River at a debut concert with over 1,500 people present to relish in the funk and glory of Machete Men. Grins plastered faces, asses shook and fists were raised, the Machete Men fan club was born. The band’s name is a homage to the Cuban cane cutters who used machetes to cut down sugar cane, likewise Machete Men aim to cut down stereotypes with their rogue salsero sound and vision.
In January 2014 the band ventured to Havana to record with Cuban record producer, Nicolas Sirgado. They tracked 10 songs, with over 20 musicians in 12 days. Guest musicians include Lazaro Oviedo on trumpet, Yaima Navarro on piano, Alexander Garcia and Fabian Sirgado on percussion and Cuban salsa legend Mayito Rivera on lead vocals. The album is being finished at Pure Cuban Sugar Studios in Portland and is scheduled for release in 2014.
Machete Men
Juanito Maribona – Vocals + Percussion
Jackson Coffey – Drums and Timbales
Tom Kay – Bass
Miguel Bernal – Congas + Percussion
Ivan Alamo – Tres Guitar + Vocals
Dan Lee – Electric Guitars
Martin Velez – Bongos/Bell + Vocals