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Interview:
Santana at Freedom Hill, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

» See more SOUND CHECK

Carlos Santana has never been at a loss for interesting musical things to do.

The veteran guitarist, whose namesake band was made famous at the original Woodstock festival in 1969, definitely plays nice with others, whether it’s the trio of albums that began with 1999’s Grammy Award-winning “Supernatural” or last year’s reunion with members of the original Santana band line for the “Santana IV” album. This year it’s the recently released “Power Of Peace,” collaboration with the Isley Brothers that features thematic covers songs as well one original, “I Remember,” written by Santana’s wife, percussionist Cindy Blackman Santana.

The guitarist has the Santana band back on the road this summer, and while the Isley Brothers aren’t alongside, he’s still preaching the power of “Peace,” as well as enduring hits such as “Smooth,” “Evil Ways,” “Maria Maria” and more...

• As its title indicated “Power Of Peace” has a thematic thread running through the album. “The theme is spiritual divine medicine to counter the fever pitch fear that’s permeating this planet right now,” Santana, 70, explains by phone from Las Vegas. “This CD has the frequency of inspiration. If they were playing this music on CNN there would be less suicide bombers and people with twisted and crooked minds, invested in believing that you have to kill someone in order to get to heaven. This CD is the opposite of that. This CD wakes you up beyond religion, beyond politics, beyond nations. It’s our duty to do this.”

• The inspiration to work with the Isley Brothers came after Ronald Isley’s recording of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look Of Love” was the first song Santana and his wife danced to at their wedding in 2010. He recruited Isley to sing a pair of songs on the “Santana IV” album with the full-length collaboration in mind. “Something just grew in me to reach out to the universe, “Santana says and before I know it we met in St. Louis because (Isley’s) sister-in-law was singing with Rod Stewart’s band and we went on tour with Rod Stewart. “somebody found out that Cindy and I are totally Ronald Isley fans, so he came to visit us in St. Louis and what’s where it started. I said, ‘Look, I want to do a record with you, a CD with you,’ and that’s how it started.”

• For Cindy Blackman Santana, the idea of writing an original song for the project -- and subsequently singing it -- was a heady experience. “Ronnie loved the song but didn’t think he could sing it right -- and then said I should sing it,” Blackman Santana remembers. “And of course I started sweating, because Ronald Isley, one of the greatest singers ever, is there. Carlos is there. The whole band is there. As it got more serious I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to sing it, but Ronnie, you can’t look at me. I don’t want you looking at me when I do it,’ because singing in front of that guy is very intimidating. And it just kind of blossomed from there. Ronnie sang ad-libs around the melody and Carlos played some beautiful ad-libs around those ad-libs and it just came off.”

• While a full tour with the Isley Brothers is not in the offing they did join Santana in Las Vegas for some performances earlier this year, and Santana is hoping for more dates in the not-too-far future. “Would like to play these (songs) at the United Nations,” he says. “I would like to play this around the world, hopefully, sometime, and in special places like the Opera House in Sydney (Australia). I constantly dream about being part of the emissaries for peace. I want to be part of a movement that brings Cindy and I and people from Wayne Shorter to Herbie (Hancock) to Pharaoh Sanders to Ronnie Isley, maybe Aretha (Franklin) and Patti Labelle -- even, hopefully with Metallica, because we honor and respect all of them.”

• Santana is also gearing up for a 50th anniversary Woodstock event, which he says will take place during 2019. “We talked to (Woodstock co-producer Michael Lang last time we were in Madison Square Garden and he came over to visit. It’s a positive thing. I’m looking forward to getting together with Michael and sculpturing what kind of an event are we going to have? I’m preparing myself, lord willing. to be at Woodstock with three or four bands -- this (Santana) band right now, and also part with the original (Santana) band, plus a band with Larry Graham and Greg Errico from the Sly Stone band.”



If You Go:

• Santana

• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9.

• Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill,14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights.

• Tickets are $79.50 and $45 pavilion, $30 lawn.

• Call 586-268-9700 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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