the real hippie From Woodstock to ‘Supernatural’ and now ‘Africa Speaks,’ Carlos Santana brings the global spirit home by bill kopp
SANTACRUZ.COM | GOODTIMES.SC | JUNE 12-18, 2019
hough he no longer lives in the Bay Area, Carlos Santana holds fond memories of his time here—including living in Aptos, where he moved with his first wife in the early ’70s. “It was time to start a family,” says Santana, who now lives in Las Vegas, via phone. “And that house in Aptos became like a nest.” The couple’s first of three children, Salvador, was born during their time there. “I’m very grateful and very clear about what each place that I have lived has given us,” he says. The band to which Santana lent his last name—first as the Santana Blues Band in the late ’60s, then as simply Santana—is primarily linked to one place: San Francisco, where it rose out of the local music scene. Even once the group broke through to international success after its performance at Woodstock in 1969, the guitarist’s connection to the Bay Area has endured. He brings Santana back to NorCal on June 26, teaming up for a concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre with the Doobie Brothers, another classic band with an interesting connection to Santa Cruz. When Santana lived in Aptos, he was a follower of the Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, and his band’s music has always had a somewhat mystical quality. “Santana’s music is very spiritual and sensual,” he says of his band. He discovered the effect it had on audiences before he even landed a record deal, back when he and his crew brought their music to clubs and on campuses around the Bay Area. “The first thing we noticed is that the women move differently.” While today’s pop freely blends global musical textures with traditional American forms—from rock to R&B to blues—it is worth remembering that Santana’s self-titled debut sounded nothing like its contemporaries. From his earliest days as a bandleader, Santana has mixed guitar-led jamming with percussion rooted in Caribbean and African traditions. By combining high gain amplifiers and improvisational instrumentals with a repetitive Nigerian chant by Babatunde Olatunji and Latin flourishes, Santana’s 1969 lead single “Jingo” introduced a new kind of fusion, and in doing so, influenced a generation of musicians.