Cuban Sandwich Crisis
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Cuban Sandwich Crisis

Band Rock Acoustic


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The best kept secret in music



Strum-pop act Cuban Sandwich Crisis, one of the most popular groups on St. Pete's bar circuit, celebrates the release of its second CD, Sunday Best, at one of the 'burg's better little watering holes. Joining the group in various capacities will be friends and colleagues Joran Oppelt (Auditorium), Rebekah Pulley and some of her Reluctant Prophets, and The Human Condition. (Abbey's Road Pub, St. Petersburg)

- Weekly Planet by Scott Harrell

"Sunday Best: Local Band Strives For The Big Break"

By Sylvie Damien

Breaking into the local nightclub scene in a band is always a difficult task. You have to really want it more than anything. The Cuban Sandwich Crisis Band really wants it BAD. This group based out of Pinellas County just released their second CD of original songs “sundaybest” when they performed recently at Abbey Road in St Pete.

Jason Merritt, the youngest and the creative influence keeping the band on the right track; Dennis Pavluk, the oldest and most seasoned and also the prankster of the group; Dave Russell the band clown and Joe Terrana, the den mother are as eclectic and diverse as the cuts on their new CD. Not yet at the point where they can quit their day jobs, they work as a news reporter in Sarasota, a middle-school tutor, at AARP and at the Florida Fish & Wild Life Commission.

These are talented musicians, college-educated. Two of them Pavluk and Terrana are formally trained and have degrees in music. Even with only four in the band, they play a range of instruments that include saxophone, flute and didgeridoo, adding to the different flavors of their music.

This CD of original music gives you a clear appreciation of their versatility. You'll be hard pressed to define “sundaybest” which features a myriad of different sounds. There's something for everyone, which may work at this stage of their career but does little to brand them for industry success. There's the “Celtic Drinking Song,” the Spanish Flamenco-sounding “Red Cantina,” the rap-infused “My Liberation,” the lyrical “Leave It All Behind” and the re-affirming “Grounded.” The latter is a great piece of advice they gave themselves when Merritt felt it slipping away a bit and wrote the song to always remind himself to stay grounded. Seems to be working.

The guys in the band are clearly committed to their success and have the pure energy and enthusiasm of the young. They seem to be aware of the other issues that come with success and realize they might need to make musical compromises further down the road. Aware that professional management will bring changes, the guys are looking forward to evolving to the next level. The Cuban Sandwich Crisis Band has not yet experienced the tension between commercial and artistic success, but they know it's coming and knowing is half the battle.

Scheduled third in the line-up of four bands that night, their live performance was the first in the evening to really get the crowd engaged. It seemed like everyone moved over to stand in front of this band to rock with them they make that all important band-fan connection. They play well in person and already have a following in this area. Clearly these are good musicians, although not all sound systems are created equal. Styling their live performances with the thought in mind that regular people will be actually paying real money to see them will help them polish their gigs and mature into their own skin.

The Cuban Sandwich Band stood out that night among the bands because they've got the talent and a sound that's fresh and diverse. This could be an exciting journey for them, with a lot of hard work and the right breaks. The key is being ready and prepared when luck falls into their laps. So far they're on the right path talent, desire, level-headedness, they're all there. “sundaybest” is worth a listen. I'd say, be on the lookout for these guys. - Accent on Tampa Bay Magazine

"Meet...Cuban Sandwich Crisis"

Cuban Sandwich Crisis
By Slobodan Juric

Who's in the mix: This four-member band is Jason Merritt, 22, who plays the guitar and does the vocals; Dave Russell, 27, on the bass and also the vocals; Joe Terrana, 31, a multitalented musician who plays six different instruments and also does the vocals; and last but not least Dennis Pavluk, 35, the master of all drums.

Lowdown: No joke, this band's music is truly rocking. You'll definitely hear some jazzy acoustics, alternative country and classic pop. If ever a genre came along that could possibly describe this Crisis' music it would be categorized under "acousta-pop rock," as Jason Merritt summed it up. After each show, at least one dancing audience member does mention that they're reminded of the Dave Matthews Band. In the end, the goal is to get "people to dance, as (we) play upbeat sounds," as Merritt described it. In case you're wondering, "about 80 percent of our music is original."

What's up with the name: There really isn't a deep touchy sort of explanation here. The band got the name Cuban Sandwich Crisis courtesy from a few drunken buddies one night, a year ago. The band says "it took a couple of weeks to get used to it," but ever since then the name has been great for them.

Outside influences: Just as the band plays different genres of music, its influences vary from American classics, such as Neil Diamond and Paul Simon, to current bands like Nickel Creek.

Home gig: Every Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. you can hear the guys at Limey's Pub (1492 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg)

Why they do it: It's a pure joy to sing, "we all love music," said Merritt as he describes the band's enthusiasm and that "there would be nothing better (to do)."

Real jobs: The four guys all work and a couple are in school. The profit hasn't reached the net gain where they could end their daily jobs.

Dream gig: It doesn't have to be a huge name-brand venue, these guys would be happy playing an "outdoor music festival" type of an event.


Visit for a sample of Nice Guy and Since Maria.
- TBT* (Tampa Bay Times)

"Cuban Sandwich Crisis"

"There's a lot of talent on display here...Jason Merritt's clear, strong vocals; Dave Russell's equally adept harmonies; Joe Terranna's flawless multi-instrumental accompaniment; Tony Dolan's snappy, syncopated drumming." - The Weekly Planet

"2005 Best of the Bay"

Reader's Poll
Cuban Sandwich Crisis - Weekly Planet


Half Full, CSC's debut album released in fall 2004 includes the songs "Since Maria" "The Nice Guy" and "Hey Melanie" which all receive radio airplay in the Tampa Bay area.

"My Liberation" featuring Infinite Skillz, will be featured on the upcoming Southeast Music Alliance compilation CD titled Tampa After Dark.

"The Drinking Song" has been featured on Tales of Drink and Debauchery, a compilation put together by BAAMO in support of their yearly trek to Austin, TX for SXSW.
© 2006 Bay Area Arts and Music Organization, Inc.


Feeling a bit camera shy


St. Petersburg, FL- In the fall of 2003 the four remaining members of the three-time Best of the Bay winners “The Gita,” chose to regroup and continue their musical journey together. They called the new incarnation Cuban Sandwich Crisis.

Their music has been described as driving and crowd pleasing acoustipop rock. Blending mainstream music with Celtic Rock and funk overtones, don't be surprised if a bit of Alt. Country creeps in and rounds out the styles which each member brings to this musical buffet.

It began in a coffee shop, as similar tales have done in the past. But playing to Baristas and coffee lovers alike proved only to be the first step for CSC.

Beginning as a small acoustic act Jason (guitar, vocals) and Joe (sax, keyboard, vocals, pennywhistle, flute and various other world instruments) were joined early on by Dave (bass and vocals). After the departure of their first drummer Tony, CSC forged ahead, adding Dennis behind the kit, solidifying the modern day lineup of the Crisis.

Collective influences evident in their works include; Dave Matthews, Paul Simon, Nickel Creek, The Police, John Mayer, Men at Work, and Barenaked Ladies.

Between the members, a list of accomplishments include showcases at South by Southwest, Atlantis and Axis Music Conferences. Shows at venues like House of Blues Orlando, Hard Rock Atlanta, Jannus Landing and the State Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL. Opening for artists such as Men at Work, Huey Lewis & the News, Less than Jake, Big Sky, Flickerstick, Red Elvises and Alana Davis.
They have created a buzz that has swept through Tampa Bay and Central Florida. Regularly featured on 97X (WSUN) and 88.5 (WMNF); voted the 2005 Best Local Band by the reader’s of the Weekly Planet; and playing for standing room only crowds, the band is steadily moving forward in the local and regional scene.

Already appealing to a large audience, they tirelessly strives to expand their fan base and keep the crowd moving with their infectious grooves and high energy live shows. One listen and you'll understand why critics and crowds alike are hailing Cuban Sandwich Crisis as one of their new favorite bands.

Note: After the success of their debut album, Half Full, CSC released their second effort Sunday Best on March 11, 2006 to a full house at Abbey Road in St. Petersburg.