Salsa Congress: Day 1

Music, dancing, and friendship at this year's new and improved Salsaland

By Dena Burroughs
Published on LatinoLA: May 28, 2005

Salsa Congress: Day 1

?Day 1? of Congress was over for me this morning at 3.30 am. When I got home around 4.30 am, I actually sat at the computer and attempted to post a write-up and the pictures, but I simply couldn?t stay awake. Now, after two whole hours of sleep (hah!) I believe I can do better.

First of all, let me acknowledge this year?s new and improved Salsaland. Very much a la? Albert Torres, this year?s set up corrected and improved issues from last years?. Now the vendors? individual booths are under a collective large tent, which also works as the entrance. The food area is out on its own, and the bathrooms, although still porto-potties, are away to one side, divided from the rest of Salsaland by a fence, which sort of gives them privacy, [not that the experience is any more fun as a portable will always be a portable, but I can see the effort.]

Last night?s first band performance was the musician-seminar-student-band, composed of the more talented folks that attended this year?s musician seminar. The seminar was taught by several members of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, such as Oscar Hernandez, Chino Nunez, Willie Torres and Ray de La Paz, and other musicians such as Manny Oquendo, Jimmy Bosch, Bobby Allende, Frankie Vazquez, and more.

It was fun to see the students perform. I think they did well, and all I can do is imagine the thrill they must have felt, to perform for a large crowd while coached by such outstanding instructors. It is even more fun to observe them when you know one of the students personally, as it was my case with my friend Shelly, the timbalera for a couple of their songs, to whom I have to say, you go girl!!!

Right after the student band?s performance, Manny Oquendo y Libre came on stage. It is so great to see Manny Oquendo play! And to see the great folks that he had up there with him, including Andy Gonzalez, Jimmy Bosch, Frankie Vasquez, Tony Rosas, Octavio Kotan (who plays an awesome guitar!), from Orquesta Broadway - Eddie Zervigon, and Alfredo de la Fe as a special guest, and others whose names I just don?t know. Do I really need to say ?great energy? after listing those names above? Jimmy with his swinging of the trombone, Frankie with that voice that can raise the dead, and then Alfredo de la Fe up there with his violin dancing all over the place! Wow.

When their set was over I had a chance to go around and dance a few songs, meet a couple dancers from Dallas, reacquaint myself with friends from back east, as well as watch a few dance performances.

Both as part of the dance performance sets and the band sets, Albert made some time to recognize the work and talent of a few artists by presenting them with a glass plaque, including plaques last night for Andy Gonzalez, Willie Rosario and Tony Vega.

The last band' performance was the one I had been looking forward to the most, Willie Rosario y su Orquesta. Looking sharp! Their special guest was Tony Vega, and Herman Olivera got up on stage for a few minutes to sing with them as well. I fell in love with Luis Hernandez, a 31 year old singer seemingly blessed by the fountain of youth, whose voice is incredible and his smile follows closely. Of course, the greatest gem is Willie (pictured with the writer), his experience, his talent and his humble heart. What a guy!

?Day 1? of Congress was everything I expected. I left right after Rosario?s performance around 3.30 am or so.

I took about 70 pictures. The link to them follows. They will make more sense to you if you read the captions. [It may require for you to create an account on imagestation, but I promise it will only take one minute and it will not add your name to any undesired mailing lists].

Click here to see them: http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2126147936

Enjoy! Can?t wait for night #2 ! Will you be there?

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