Louis M. Portela (english)

Feb 3, 2007

I was at this festival. I discovered your website while doing a search for info on Mar y Sol, and was truly shocked to have found it!!!

I was 17 years old then (I’m 52 now-I’ve been in the states since ’74. I’m  originally a native New Yorker).

Back then, I was living in Caguas, Puerto Rico. I was a senior high school student at the Gautier Benitez High School when I heard that the festival was happening on the Radio Rock.

All my high school “panas” (buddies)  & I started collecting “funds” here & there ’till we finnally raised enough cash to buy the tickets & supplies needed in advance at a local record store (which I cannot remember its name for the life of me now). I still have the main part of my ticket stub: # 000202 as a memento.

We bought a tent- painted a huge white circle with a “Peace” sign on it, got some “mind enhancers” of the day, and the whole bunch of us  actually arrived late on Friday, and we were allowed to set our stuff on the site.

I remember there was plenty of camping space before it got really crowded by opening day. We settled about a mile or so on the opposite side of the road that led into the Festival Stage (site-opposite from the stage area & towards the beach). I really don’t know why we bought the tickets ’cause it became obvious that it was gonna be hard to check every ticket…many folks “se colaron”.

It was a really hot weekend, and finding drinking water for the remainder of the weekend became everyone’s primary objective there… food was 2nd!!

We got tickets that were to be used for food…but by the 2nd day finding food became another problem, the few vending sites were running low on things to eat. I do remember that sometime near noon of the 2nd day all of these supermarket supply trailers started to arrive.

Some trucks made brief stops & the drivers started handling out stuff like packs of Ritz crackers, bags of Planters peanuts & soft drinks for free.

A whole bunch of us hippies were nestled on this small bluff located alongside the main road. We had an Army steel helmet which we later used for cooking food. Found some rope, and made a basket out of it, lowering it down to the road, and passer-by’s would put cigarettes, joints, gum, soft frinks, whatever fit in it. We had a stash of all sorts of goodies.

Services were terrible… a hassle at times, the sanitation “Port-a-potty’s” were grundgy, and on the 2nd night, I shone the light inside the one I was trying to use…there was this huge spider that had made its home inside, so no one wanted to mess with it, it was actually very funny watching the girls that were pretty stoned, walking in, and screaming at the top of their lungs once they’d realized what was in there!!

The shower situation was another hassle…it was constantly crowded, I chose to bathe on the beach…but, no sooner I’d dried that I had to squeeze my way to a shower spot to rinse off the salt water. There were just so many people…seemed just like Woodstock.

Now as I remember it (& its amazing due to the amount of stuff I was intaking then)…The Music was awesome!!! I think PR 2010 & La Banda del Karajo were the 1st bands to play. Herbie Mann played sometime in the afternoon…I believe he may have been the 1st American act to show up. There were a few other US/UK bands that played after him Stonehenge & Goose Creek Symphony. I can’t recall which one was it…but, one of these 2 had a bassist that apparently had his right arm amputated midway above the wrist, and he had some sort of contraption on that looked like a “leather claw”, and this is how he played, and man did he PLAY!!! I’m a bassist too for 35 yrs now!!…so I was very impressed & it stayed on my mind all these years.
From the 1st day: I still remember Jonathan Edwards in the mid to late afternoon, Brownsville Station also played sometime in the afternoon, & they gave a smoking show,  I do recall The Allman Bros. Band while it was still light until dusk when the stage lights came on, they played many from the “Eat A Peach” album. I think they were followed by BB King, he played a long time, and I passed out sometime during his show.

On Sunday the 2nd
: Then very early the next morning Sunday the 2nd, NY’s Elephants Memory Band took the stage…they actually woke me up…I think I had about 3-4 hr sleep that 1st night, there was some hype that John Lennon & Yoko Ono might’ve shown up with them since they where essentially John’s back up band at the time. But a “well wishes” statement from John & Yoko was read out over the loud speakers…I was always surprised that the papers never mentioned it.

It was like a big tribal pow-wow, people were stoned, tripping, drinking, I was hanging out with some folks that came from the UK via Bermuda, they had a huge tent with a British Flag Painted on it. I seem to recall it rained on & off throughout that day…we thought that day would be shot by the rain, but it cleared eventually.

Bands I remember from that day:  David Peelhe was kind of political & humorous;  Billy Joel–no one in PR knew much then about this cat, but he gave a great show…I can only recall : “Captain Jack” and a sizzling cover of “The Letter” a la Joe Cocker ( with Cocker’s Mannerisms & all…good imitator). I believe Dave Brubeck played that night too, and maybe Dr. John afterwards (or vice versa), but I’m not that sure. I do remember that ELP came on late due to some technical problems, but they opened up with the entire “Tarkus” LP, then played stuff from their LP “Pictures at an Exhibition“, and then some stuff from the ELP album ending their show with “Lucky Man” (??).  I recall the Alice Cooper Band  followed them later on, and played all of the hits of their day. The one thing I remember the most from their show was that he took out a sword with $$ bills stashed to it, and was flinging the bills on the crowd…that was a “rush” for the crowd. I crashed after this show.

Nitzinger on the newspaper
The 3rd day:
was expected to be the best…Mahavishnu Orchestra (with John McLaughlin) played sometime in the late afternoon. I think Savoy Brown did play that afternoon too…but, I don’t recall Fleetwood Mac playing at all. The J Geils Band played in the afternoon too. Then sometime late in the day John Nitzinger took the stage and simply BLEW everyone away with his show…he kept making the crowd laugh saying his pant’s where falling off…It remains one of the best shows I’ve seen my whole concert going life…he had a female drummer that smoked on the drums, the crowd went nuts…we thought he do an encore, but he was wisked away!!!
Afterwards there was a short break, and Cactus rocked the festival, they were LOUD…I was a huge fan of theirs, and remember that bassist Tim Bogert took his bass and threw it up (spinning) in the air, and caught it right before a mid solo section during “Let me swim”. The next band to play was Rod Stewart & the Faces— what I remember the most of their show was that Rod had a large bandage on his forehead, he said he had fallen somewhere backstage & cut his forehead but was fine. Sometime that evening we were told that Black Sabbath– the main attraction – could not reach the festival on time & was cancelled. The next band I seem to recall afterwards was Malo they did play “Suavecito” & “Nena” in their set, and afterwards, we started to pack near the end when Osibisa was in the middle of their set. We figure we beat the traffic jam exiting Vega Baja.
I had a lot of fun at this festival. It was great to have “communed” with some of those folks that assembled there for this event. I mean, a few bad things did happened, I think some people got badly hurt there. But, overall it was a fun thing…I’ll never forget this event.I hope that some of my memories, which are not as clear as they used to be – may be of some help to your website. I am very grateful that you’ve created this site. There’s a well known artist in PR, a great close friend of mine,  Arturo Vilmenay, we went together to this festival. I sent him the link to your website, and he e-mailed me back the next day telling me it brought him so many memories to see the pics. We’ve always regreted not taking a camera with us to this event! Oh well, C’est la vie…
Thanks for the memories

Check out the Pink Floyd tribute band I play with www.houseoffloyd.com here in CA.

Lou Portela
Vallejo, CA
(Feb 3, 2007)
Webmaster Note (02/28/12): Since this review is from 2007 and a lot of new info has surfaced, here are a few corrections I would like to point out just to avoid confusion:
– Local band PR 2010 did perform but is not the band Louis is referring to. The local band that opened the festival was Rubber Band.
– At the time of this review Louis said: “I can’t recall which one was it…but, one of these 2 had a bassist that apparently had his right arm amputated midway above the wrist…”. You can now see the picture of that person, Randy Lewis (RIP), because photographer Glenn Abbott submitted it a few months ago and we know the name/band because website visitor Axel J. Ortiz did some heavy researching until he found the the bass player’s name and that the band was Stonehenge. So, Louis was very very close when guessing it was either Stonehenge or Goose Creek Symphony.
ELP’s ended their show with “Rondo”. “Lucky Man” was their 4th song on the set.
Several other attendees claim that Malo did not perform at the festival. Hey! it’s been four decades, there’s always room for some unclear memories 🙂