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New Orleans Continuing Adventure
Written By: Tish Michel
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New Orleans Continuing Adventure
Santana thrilled us all with his stellar set at Jazz Fest.
New Orleans Continuing Adventure
Carlos Santana gave us a piece of his heart at his interview at the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage at Jazz Fest prior to his stellar performance. At one point during the interview, he made direct eye contact with me and I felt like our souls connected as one - what a wonderful experience I'll always cherish!
“Oh Santana - oh won’t you play for me,
Well ya come to Louisiana with a gee-tar on your knee.”
Carlos Santana saw, he came and oh so assuredly conquered Jazz Fest once again with his almost 200 minutes of non-stop sheer magnificent magical, mystical, and most memorable performance that closed out the main stage of Jazz Fest its opening day last April. The man is simply amazing and my hero.
I do not attempt to catch many of the international acts that perform at the huge Acura stage at Jazz Fest because of the heat and crowd. However, I’ll never miss a Santana show as he is one of my all-time favorite musicians who always delivers his best. I last saw him at Jazz Fest in 2008 standing right up front in a crowd of many thousands. I remember a delightful gal from New Jersey performed random acts of kindness by handing out fans to those of us near her to help with the heat. Santana was my favorite act in ‘08 and this year as well.  
At the age of 66, and with close to half a decade of experience, Santana has the energy and stamina on stage as someone a quarter of his age; Santana has a passion and talent like no other! Did you know that only Santana and the Rolling Stones have had an album in the top ten each decade from 1960 on? Rolling Stone magazine ranks him as #15 of the all time great guitarists stating “Santana’s crystalline tone and clean arching sustain him as the rare instrumentalist who can be identified in just one note.”
I had the privilege of attending an interview with Santana shortly before his show this year. Santana said his love for music of New Orleans began while he was still a small boy in Mexico and first heard Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns’ 1958 chart topper “Don’t You Just Know It” on the radio. Santana’s father was a musician and young Carlos followed in his footsteps with the violin as his first instrument. The family moved to the San Francisco bay area when Carlos was a teen and he had his first hit in 1969 with “Evil Woman”. His band, known as the Santana Blues Band, was formed in ’67 with drummer Rod Harper, percussionist Marcus Malone, bassist David Brown, vocalist Gregg Rolie and Santana on lead guitar. They came to national attention with Santana’s breakthrough show at Woodstock in ‘69 which coincidentally was the first year of Jazz Fest. With his outstanding musicianship, Santana created the unique sound of fusing Afro - Latin instrumentation and rhythm with good ole rock and blues during the late ‘60s and continued his experimental deviations of ever evolving sound in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. The band hit hard times in the late ‘80s and disbanded for seven years. Santana made a huge comeback in the 1990’s and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in ‘98.  
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Rob Thomas sing Santana’s “Smooth”. In addition to my tax practice, I was also teaching and choreographing dance aerobic for the YMCA. I went right out and bought Supernatural and had “Smooth,” with its most infectious beat, choreographed in about 10 minutes flat. That song (as are all Santana hits) was so danceable that the chorography just flowed through me. BTW – just love it when our own Joe Smooth sings that song with his No Byscuyts Band at Caribbean Pool Bar at Plim Plaza on Sunday afternoons.  Supernatural was a 15 times Platinum Award winner. Do you remember the Grammy’s from 1999? Santana won Grammys that year for best album (Supernatural), song (“Smooth”) and best male artist of the year. Santana has 10 Grammys to date, but who’s counting.
Three years later Santana really let his spiritual side shine through with Shaman which may be my favorite Santana CD.  The hits have continued ever since.  Santana was supposed to release his latest CD in May. It’s entitled Corazon and pays homage to his Latin roots. It is his first all Spanish language release; can’t wait to get it and give a listen. Gloria Estefan, Miguel, Ziggy Marley and other Latin legends are included in this CD.
At the Jazz Fest show this year, Santana graciously stated, “It’s a joy and honor to be at this most prestigious event.” He talked about past greats who had performed at Jazz Fest like N’walins own gospel queen Mahalia Jackson stating, “she is the light divine.” Santana’s keyboard player, David Mathews, threw in some of New Orlean’s best, using piano riffs from Professor Longhair’s “Tiptino”. Santana started with some of his all-time top hits playing the full length versions of “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va”. I had just heard the original version of “Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente that morning on WWOZ. If you ever get the chance, give the original a listen as it, too, is marvelous; but you’ll see how Santana truly made it his own with his electrifying guitar.
Naturally, Santana had an amazing band of musicians backing him up. I must give mention to his beautiful wife, jazz drummer Cindy Backman Santana. Wow, oh wow, did she give a fabulous and powerful mini set with Santana and his bassist Benny Reitveld. Santana is a very spiritual man of peace and social conscience; he is a true humanitarian who preaches for us to let the light in and shine on our souls. He closed the show with “Soul Sacrifice.”  
Santana is currently finishing his autobiography and hopes to have it out by the end of the year. Santa, I’ve been a really good girl and all I want for Christmas is this bio!  Meanwhile, if you want to hear Santana tunes played note for note as he recorded them, catch a Tranzfusion show this Friday and Saturday nights at Coins on 28th Street. Hey Bob, Hank, Tom and Bobbie – please play some Santana for us!
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