Miami, Fl – Let’s face it, you don’t need much of a reason to party when you are in Miami. So, why not have a party on 3/05, or on 3/05 eve in this case, to celebrate the Magic City, whose area code happens to be 305. The Magic City Casino has chosen to do just this, offering up a free show with a few Freestyle music artists along with pop, latin and jazz music percussionist extraordinaire, Tito Puente Jr.
An outdoor event in early March is typically a good idea. However, after two to three weeks of record high temperatures, the outdoor venue was a bit less desirable as the weather was warm and the humidity, well it is Florida, the humidity was palpable. Nonetheless, you dress for the weather. In Miami, that means wear as little as possible, and go with the flow.
The evening festivities are started off with DJ Jorge Santana spinning classic Freestyle and Miami “booty” music much to the crowds delight and entertainment. Jorge effectively primes to pump, so to speak, getting fans ready for the show.
First to take the 737 Stage at the Magic City Casino is Miami’s own Rudy Gil. Rudy is no stranger to the Miami fan base, having been part of Secret Society starting in the 80’s. Rudy has remained on the music scene on and off throughout the years and entertains fans on this evening with hit songs like “Find Yourself“, “Why Did You Run Away” and his newest release, “Buttercup” before wrapping up his set with the Secret Society hit, “We Belong Together“. A highlight of the set is when Tito Puente Jr. joins Rudy on stage to play the timbales, adding additional latin flavor to his performance.
Wil &More, follows Rudy’s performance. Two of the songs that Wil performs are such a great example of the staying power that Freestyle music has had since its inception in the 80’s. These two songs, “Materialistic Girl” and “You’ll Never Find Another Love” are woven into the soundtrack of the life of the true Freestyle fan. Fans were singing along, not just the chorus, but verse for verse along with Wil. It is very apparent in his interaction with those in attendance that he is really appreciative of their ongoing support of his music.
Nyasia, now a Central Florida resident, is a fan favorite. She is back in Miami, fresh off of a great performance at the Jungle Island Freestyle concert earlier in the month. She opens her set with “Who’s Got Your Love” followed by “I’m The One“. She then performs a newly remixed version of Carol Lynn Townsend’s hit “99 1/2“, which is very well received by fans. Her set ends with he power hit, “Now and Forever“, which she dedicates to DJ Jorge Santana and his wife who are celebrating an anniversary as she serenades them on stage.
The last set of the evening belongs to Tito Puente Jr., opening with a very energetic and percussive latin number. Tito often performs with an orchestra backing him, but on this night, he is playing accompanied by a track. Take nothing away from that. Tito is a one man show! To see Tito Puente Jr. play, is like taking a trip back in time and seeing his father, the legendary percussionist, Tito Puente pounding away at the timbales and cowbell in such a melodic, syncopated rhythm. His facial expressions, mannerisms, movement and style are so reminiscent of the senior Puente’s style. It is easy to see that Tito Puente Jr. loves to be on that stage and loves to create wonderful music.
About mid-set, Tito invites Wil &More to join him on stage and asks to play the maracas while he carries the rhythm on the timbales. They ultimately switch places and you can tell that Wil is like a kid in a candy store soaking in the moment. Wil would go on to say a bit later via social media, how much that moment playing alongside Tito Puente Jr. meant to him. Among the songs performed by Tito was the iconic “Oye Como Va” made famous by his father, who wrote the song in 1956.
The camaraderie among those in the Freestyle circles is encouraging and heartwarming. It is not uncommon to see Tito, Nyasia, Wil and Rudy in the audience supporting their peers during their performances and also enjoying the moment with their fans.
The evening ends just as it started, with DJ Jorge Santana playing the hits that put Freestyle on the map. Jorge has been the resident DJ at the Magic City Casino for several years now and he keeps the fans coming back for more.
The Magic City Casino has several more free shows coming up in the next few months, mainly catering to the large latino fan base in Miami.
Tito Puente Jr.
Show Date: March 4, 2023