Jerry Rivera at Festival De La Isla

Posted on Aug 30, 2011

I rounded out this past week with a pilgrimage over to Pena Adobe Park in Vacaville for the 10th Annual Festival De La Isla, Puerto Rican outdoor festival. Salsa romantica idol Jerry Rivera was the headliner. Now I haven’t seen Jerry since I worked in charge of stage operations for a show that he headlined at the SF Concourse over 10 years ago with La India and Grupo Niche. Now, Jerry is making a big comeback after a 4 year hiatus with a hit “Solo Pienso En Ti” climbing the Billboard Latin charts. So I was curious to see this matinee idol of pop salsa at this stage of his career. He just started his set by the time I arrived and already had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Mr. “Cara De Nino” has grown up to be a boyish looking, physically buffed man who displayed his cool as he effortlessly sang his big commercial salsa hits. He delighted the ladies in the audience by peppering each song numerous times with his trademark “Baby”. His version of his biggest hit “Amores Como Lo Nuestro” rocked both the mix of old school and new school salseros in the public. Included in his repertoire was a lengthy passionate tribute to the late vocalist Frankie Ruiz, one of Rivera’s idols. Jerry Rivera is a singer with a fine upper register but he is not nor does he pretend to be a sonero (a traditional salsa singer that can improvise lyrics on the spot). He connected with the audience at times, smiling and speaking directly to folks in the crowd. And at other times, he seemed detached like he was following a script and on remote control. My impression of Jerry Rivera is that he is happy to be exactly who he is: a pop idol who has body of hits with Salsa music as his musical foundation. Members of Orquesta Borinquen provided solid backup for Rivera under the capable direction of musical director/pianist Ramon Sanchez from Puerto Rico. The large turnout was another feather in the cap of Linda and Cafe August, the festival organizers.