Electric Piquete bass player Michael Mut has a direct connection to the Bay of Pigs. His grandfather spent 18 months in a Cuban prison after John F. Kennedy abandoned him and hundreds of others on La Playa Girón during their invasion to topple Fidel Castro's communist dictatorship.
Today, the Cuban fusion band that Mut cofounded with lifelong pal Ed Rosado is working an instrumental single in tribute to the bravery of those who fought and died for freedom. Here's what Mut has to say about blood on the sand, Afrika Bambaataa, and why the rest of America "doesn't give a fuck about Cuba."
Talk about the song.
"En La Playa Girón" is our single right now, inspired by the Bay of Pigs invasion. My grandfather was a part of that, and so was the trumpet player Rich Dixon's. They both spent 18 months in prison. I'm not that brave to do what they did, but this is my contribution to the same fight as them for doing it.
What do you think of Fidel Castro?
Son of a bitch. Fuck that guy. A lot of people left when he declared himself communist. My grandpa lost his business, house, and all his money was seized by the communist government.
He came here and was trained by the CIA for an invasion of Cuba. One of the guys got killed in an accident during training and his number was 2506, so they named it the 2506 Brigade in his honor. They invaded on the 17th of April 1961 and it failed cause John F. Kennedy promised air cover, then pulled back for fear of starting World War III. Everybody got stranded on that beach and they were all either killed or captured.
200 died during the invasion, and then later Kennedy was like, "This is fucked up," and he traded a bunch of baby powder, milk, and bullshit to get them released. It's actual history, and this is our tribute to those who died.
Why is the song, "En La Playa Girón," just instrumental, no vocals?
Our band is generally instrumental, and we love Latin jazz and fusion music, which is mainly instrumental, like Weather Report, Return to Forever, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. When we started, we never had a singer, but now we're getting into a new phase with vocals and that's coming out in our new recordings that we're doing now.
Is your grandpa still alive?
He passed away in 1983. I hope that he can hear it wherever he is. That would be cool.
Talk about your new direction with the vocals.
Raymond Ayala is our conga player. He's a bad motherfucker. One day, he started freestyling and we found out he can rap. So now we're integrating hip-hop, and urban sounds into our fusion of jazz and Latin. Personally, one of my favorite albums of all time is Dr. Dre's The Chronic. And one of the first albums I ever bought is Afrika Bambaata's Searching for the Perfect Beat, which I still have on vinyl.
Where do you record?
With DJ Le Spam, who is now our producer, at his City of Progress Studio in North Miami.
What's the reaction so far on "En La Playa Girón"?
Strong. Even from Steve Bovo who is a Miami-Dade commissioner. His father was also part of the Bay of Pigs. His father and my grandfather were friends in prison. So that's a shared history. He loves the song. It's also getting spins on WDNA, and people really seem to dig it.
Would you do what they did?
They picked up guns to go fight, I picked up my bass to show respect to them for it. Hopefully, Fidel hears the song and has a heart attack and fucking dies, but he's probably dead already anyway. These guys tried to take back Cuba. It didn't work, but I always appreciate what my grandpa had the balls to do.
It's weird. My parents met here. If they never came to the States, I might not be here talking to you. That's the paradox of the Cuban experience.
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But outside of Miami, no one cares about what's going on in Cuba. No one gives a fuck. They don't understand it like me or my father or grandfather. I have no animosity about it, there's no point to it. I'm as American as I am Cuban. I'm not mad about it. I just want to pay my tribute through my musical expression
Electric Piquete with Stop The Presses, and The Big Tasty, Saturday, August 24, at The Stage (170 NE 38 St), Doors at 9p.m., free till 11p.m., $10 after, 21+