~by Dena Burroughs

25avo DIA NACIONAL DE LA SALSA 2008 - (25th NATIONAL DAY OF SALSA 2008) - March 30th, 2008

El 25avo Dia Nacional de la Salsa 2008 was celebrated on March 30th at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The event was dedicated to Conjunto Libre's Director, Mr. Manny Oquendo, Historian Rafael Viera and renowned pianist Larry Harlow. 

Among the Salsa bands participating were Orquesta Siglo XXI, La Sonora Poncena, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Manny Oquendo y Libre.  Also present were soneros Herman Olivera, Frankie Vasquez, and Ismael Miranda.

The event attracted thousand of Salseros.  Blogger Jaime Torres has a nice summary of the event in his El Nuevo Dia newspaper's column, which can be found at  There is also a write-up on the Larry Harlow website at   There is a video of a Rafael Ittier solo during the Gran Combo performance at

Promoter JC Ospina, from LatinFire Productions traveled from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico for the event.  Following are some notes he shares with the's readers:

"It started at 12:00 in the afternoon and ended at 11 p.m.  I want to give a special thanks to Sr. Angel Llaraza from M.P. Records and radio station La Zeta 93 FM [...] for allowing me all the backstage action I could handle.  To start off, the opening of the show was the debut of Orquesta Siglo XXI, the new generation of Salsa gorda, which was a group of young talented singers and musicians.  They were followed by La Sonora Poncena, El Gran Combo, el maestro Manny Oquendo con su Conjunto Libre, and singers Herman Olivera, Tempo Alomar, and Frankie Vasquez.  Also the Spanish Harlem with my favorite Ray de la Paz and to top it off Larry Harlow reunited with the legendary ex-Fania Ismael Miranda.  Talk about the classics.  They played them all.  Closing the show was Willie Colon, who from my understanding is retiring this year to get involved in New York politics." [Note: has not verified this statement.]  "In attendance were approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people (every promoter's dream $$$$.)  The weather was great, nice, hot, with some cool winds, lots of great food and people.  I was able to rub shoulders with pro boxers and actors, anyone known in the industry of Salsa, music writers, record companies, etc.  This event was dedicated to Sr. Rafael Viera, one of the nicest men I have had the pleasure to know over the years.  If you are in Puerto Rico visit his store "Viera Discos La Casa del Coleccionista" (787/725 1105.)  He has anything that you need regarding Salsa and music. 

I want to thank the people who have supported me in the past and look forward to June 21st at the Hollywood Park Casino for the tribute to Frankie Ruiz with Anthony Cruz, Nino Segarra with Orquesta Fuego Latino, and making their debut, Conjunto Oye Goza Mi Gente."

[pictures courtesy of J.C. Ospina]

  with Frankie Vasquez

  with Willie Rosario




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