An Intimate Evening with Santana: Greatest Hits Live – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

by alan stanford  
photo – maryanne bilham

“I encourage any and all countries (that have not as yet done so) to acknowledge the first people of their land, and make this a collective global effort.”

No matter what particular era you are from, no doubt, you have heard the name “Santana”.  It was during the summer of 1969 when I first heard the song, “Soul Sacrifice”, as it was performed at the legendary music festival “Woodstock”.  That was the debut of the band “Santana”, and the birth of the amazing Latin-flavored guitar style of Carlos Santana – a first for myself and many others, who would become dedicated fans and continue to be loyal followers of this amazing lead guitarist.  

Fast forward more than four decades later, and one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (cited as #15 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list) still reigns supreme, performing a series of shows during a two-year residency at the intimate House of Blues inside of Mandalay Bay.

The house lights dim, a video screen illuminates with images of the famous music festival.  The crowd sings in unison to the melodic intro of the original groundbreaking “Soul Sacrifice” song.  Seamlessly, the live band takes over, as the room floods with cheers from the crowd, as they ecstatically jump to their feet.  The dancing starts and never stops.  Melodic, bluesy and loud, Carlos Santana’s recognizable signature style of latin-soulful blues guitar opened at a level 10 and stayed there for the entire show.  Surprisingly, his age has not waned his abilities.  Rather the contrary, his fingering was perfectly fluid, unchanged, that of the guitar playing in his twenties on the Woodstock stage. 

His accompanying 5-star band, consisting of conga player and percussionist Raul Rekow – who has been an integral part of the Santana Band since ’76; percussionist Karl Perazzo; Dennis Chambers – a drummer who is a machine; killer bassist Benny Rietveld; and rhythm guitarist Tommy Anthony – who contributes both some vocals and lead guitar work; the soulful David K. Matthews on keys; lead vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas; and brass players Bill Ortiz on trumpet and Jeff Cressman on trombone; pour out their souls into Santana’s greatest hits.  This show almost seems dedicated to his fans – playing one favorite after another.     

Carlos Santana has sold more than 90 million records, has won 10 Grammy Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project for 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the hit song, “Smooth”), and was inducted in ’98 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose web page on their induction notes:  “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.” 

The more recent Santa album, Shape Shifter, was dedicated to Native American Indians and debuted in the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 top-selling albums chart, making it his 13th top 20 album debut, and the group’s 30th top 200 charting release overall.  Yet truly record-breaking was the 2010 album, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time, which made Santana the only act in Billboard history, (other than the Rolling Stones), to score at least one Top Ten album in each decade from the 1960’s through the present.

This has been an unbelievable show, and an incredible musical ride, where you could put on your dancing shoes and groove into the latin beat at the House of Blues.  And it’s been well worth the scratch (I’ve seen him 3 times over his two-and-a-half year residency.

A portion of all tickets sold are donated to The Milagro Foundation.  Milagro (“Miracle”) is a charitable foundation supporting underrepresented and vulnerable children and youth in the areas of arts, education and health.  The Milagro Foundation was created in 1998 by Carlos Santana and his family to benefit children worldwide.  Another contribution will be made to The International House of Blues Foundation which is dedicated to supporting youth music and arts programs.

Santana’s residency ends this February, though this fan is hoping for an addition extension.  I’m ready to jam some more on his sweet Latin beat.  For additional information, go to   SLV   5-stars

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