Cuba happenings 2

September 1.

Changuito came over to hang, hes been listening to the cd demo i gave him intently. He has suggested altering a couple of rhythms in my tunes in order to “cubanify” them. He’s excited about the project.

Met pianist, “Alex” who is to be on my cd, gave him all the charts and a cd with sample audio on. Damn good thing a was given the extra printer paper yesterday, it came in handy making extra copies of the sheet music today.

Alex has a busy week this week and can probably only join us for half of rehearsals so we have 2 pianists booked to play.

Many thanks to the Aussie who gave Jacinto a printer with a copy function!

5 guys replacing the lock on the screen door at Jacinto’s place. 4 supervisors and 1 worker…..angle grinder in use with absolutely no protection??? Australian Work safety would have a field day in CUBA.

Another amazing storm at 4pm.


– Cubans like to turn off
The power to all appliances when there is a storm just like my parents
– always watch out above when walking the streets, you never know when a bucket of water is going to be thrown from above!!





Cuba happenings

August 31.

Walked to hotel nacionale to Print out special piano parts for one of my pieces. I wanted to find somewhere to buy some blank printing paper to give as a gift to Jacinto. I noticed his supplies were running very low. Apparently it’s really expensive and hard to find. I utilised my broken Spanish to asks the assistant at the business centre at the Hotel Nacionale, and she notified me that it was about $20 for a packet. I guess it pays to be friendly and jovial because when I went To pay for my printouts she slipped about 100 blank pages of black printing paper in aswell!

A huge storm swelled this afternoon which cooled down the entire city and made some wonderful lightning strikes at night.

Convinced Aussie Steve to come to Casa de la Musica (walking distance). Turned out to be a great night. We befriended 2 great guys, one from Israel “Gal” and another from Chilli “Andreas”. Shared a bottle of Rum and TuKola ($35- that’s expensive, have paid as little as $7 for this on a previous trip at another venue). Live band PUPY was playing 🙂


– water and the smooth pavement test the gripping capabilities of my worn out thongs.
– saw a modified bicycle that had a spinning lathe rigged up to run off the back wheel. Used to sharpen a tool or knife. Another use for Pedal power.
– man practicing French outside on the Malecon wall in the 33 degree Celsius heat at 1.30pm.
– Cubans are allowed to smoke inside a venue.





Paul Van Ross books Egrem studio in Havana Cuba

August 30.

Today we booked a taxi for Monday, the whole day, in order to pick up all the musicians / instruments and get them to the studio on time. Also to deliver the prepared lunch for 8 people that I am paying for.

Walked to the EGREM studios again (yes – walked, it’s only 5-10min walk from where I’m staying), to finalise deposit and other financial matters. Always good to not be in a hurry in CUBA. This would usually take 5-10 minutes max in Most countries but in Cuba can take Soooooo much longer. (I think we were there over 1 hour)

Luckily I took notes about prices on our last visit to the studio, because it seems there is a fine line between $per hour rates & $per day rates ?? With Patience and perseverance I got the agreed $ per day rates 🙂

Always bring your passport for any official matters!

So, studio 102 @ EGREM is booked for rehearsal Monday & Tuesday. For a rehearsal space it’s huge. The piano is a grand, but is a little honky tonk.

Main recording studio, 101, is booked for Thursday & Friday. It has an enormous main room and three separation booths. Hoping to get 5-6hours recording done on Thursday and then touch-ups on Friday.

Piano tuner booked to spruce up the Steinway in the main room.

Sound engineer booked for all four days. Apparently you still need a sound engineer when you are rehearsing too 😉

My AusPost travel Visa card which I had loaded with Euro dollars to spend in Cuba — DOESN’T WORK HERE!! I’ve tried the ATMs many times, various amounts. And also tried over the counter at Hotel Nacionale. NADA.

Pays (literally) to have a plan B. Now you know why people say Just bring cash to Cuba. Any cash except US dollars (they incur an additional 10% exchange fee – if they’ll exchange them at all).

Still need a pianist for Monday.
Still trying to meet Jose Luis Cortes.


– Cuban people get booked by the police for J walking too!
– I forgot how much the fumes from these old American cars stink.
– Cubans generally love a chat, love hanging out, and love making out, wherever they like.