Día Nacional de la Salsa en Puerto Rico - 2003
by Reinaldo Jorge and Juan Rosa
the last twenty years, Z-93 radio has sponsored the National
Salsa Day. It is a law in Puerto Rico that the third Sunday
of March is designated as the Día Nacional de la Salsa.
Each year Pedro Arroyo, Program Director of Z-93 has
honored a salsa great in the island's biggest festival of Tropical music.
year on March 16th the festival honored Johnny Pacheco
and Roberto Roena. I left for San Juan on American
Airlines Friday morning from New York City at 7 a.m. - that meant getting
up at 4 a.m. to arrive at Kennedy Airport at 5:15. I was traveling alone.
Rehearsals were for Saturday at 1 p.m. We rehearsed without Pacheco
who arrived at 5 p.m. during the last song. Of course it was up to me
to do Pacheco's job and with help from Bobby Valentin
and Papo Lucca we rehearsed the 20-some odd songs for
I was also in Puerto Rico to have several meetings regarding the family
show SOFRITO which I am trying to bring to
the PR School System for one month after the new school year begins
in September and HOMMY 2003, the Latin Opera
that will be revived with a new cast and symphony orchestra in the new
Coliseo that is 2 years behind on construction due to the island's politics.
held my meetings Saturday evening and Sunday morning and returned at
3 p.m. waiting for someone to inform me of our departure time to the
Estadio Juan Ramon Lubriel de Bayamon. The $10 general admission
ticket is a gift of Z-93 to the salseros of Puerto Rico.
I arrived in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, the musicians were boarding
the vans getting ready to leave for the venue. No one ever called or
left a message. I had friends from Japan, Puerto Rico and Cuba meeting
me at 5 p.m. but I had to leave and run to my room without shaving,
put on my stage clothes and run to the caravan of vans and cars leaving
at 4 p.m. So much for respect!
Leaving without seeing my friends, we had a 14-van caravan to Bayamón
where we picked up our police escorts of 6 motorcyles with lights and
sirens blasting, stopping all cross traffic.
Ray Viera, Jerry Medina and Wichy Camacho.
concert began at 12 noon with the following musicians: Moncho
Rivera y su tributo al Sonero Mayor,
Bobby Valentin y su orq with Marvin Santiago,
Luiggi Texidor, Rafu Warner and Luisito Carrión,
Tito Rojas y su Orq. and Tommy Olivencia
y su Orq.
we drove into the stadium there was a sea of salseros - I estimated
about 30,000 people jammed the stands and covered the infield
packed in like sardines.
of the Fania All Stars were there. Me, Papo
Lucca, Bobby Valentin, Roena, Pacheco, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Miranda,
Adalberto Santiago, Hector Cassanova, Ismael Quintana, Nicky Marrero,
Yomo Toro, Leopoldo Pineda, Jimmy Bosch, Reinaldo Jorge, Juancito Torres,
Bomberito Zarzuela, Ito Torres, Eddie Montalvo, Alfredo de la Fe, Jerry
Medina, Wichi Camacho, Rey Viera and special guest stars
Bobby Cruz and Ricardo Rey.
Backstage was a zoo, with a few thousand friends, record company people
and groupies as well as family and friends with all the sponsors and
our RV trailers used as dressing rooms. We did not have to wait too
long. At 5:30 Las Estrellas de la Fania began.
The público was going wild listening to their heroes of the last
30 years. All of the Fania players were in excellent
form and the show was a wonderful 3-hour journey of nostalgia of the
Golden Era de Salsa, with everyone doing their hits for the Fania
recordings of the 70's.
half way through there was a pause to present Pacheco
and Roena with awards and presents for their great
musical work over the years. Roberto was very emotional and the show
went to it's conclusion with Ponte Duro. We
were called back for an encore of Quítate Tu
and during Yomo's solo, Tito Rojas
jumped on the stage, drunk, out of tune and pulled the microphone from
Pacheco and started singing in the most unprofressional
way with the big boys.
He was embarrasing to everyone and was booed until someone turned his
microphone off. No wonder he will never be spoken of in the same breath
as the Fania All Stars. This is not the first time
he has done this and I lost a lot respect for him.
González joined in on the last song as fireworks and
flares zoomed on stage and over the stadium... A great 20th Anniversary
of the Día Nacional de Salsa.