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[whitespace] Santana
Photograph by Dan Pulcrano

Ricky Who? Longtime Latino rock heavyweight Carlos Santana and his band show no signs of slowing down after three decades on the charts.

Supernatural Return

Top-selling Latin superstar Santana sells out Shoreline for annual concerts

By Dan Pulcrano

SANTANA'S ANNUAL Shoreline Amphitheatre appearance--like Grateful Dead shows before Jerry Garcia's death and Neal Young's Bridge School Benefit--has for at least half a decade been a Bay Area event dependable enough to set clocks by.

This weekend's sold-out two-night engagement is the group's first Bay Area concert since it won 11 Grammys (counting Latin and gabacho), toured three continents and sold more than 20 million copies of the blockbuster album Supernatural--almost as many as Santana's first 25 albums sold in the band's first two decades.

Born the son of a mariachi player in a small town south of Guadalajara, Mexico, Carlos Santana has absorbed many musical influences during his more than a third-of-a-century-long musical odyssey from the strip joints of Tijuana through San Francisco psychedelia to become the top-selling Latin superstar.

The current tour, which features mostly Supernatural material with a few old staples like "Oye Como Va" and "Black Magic Woman" thrown in, draws heavily on African, Latin, Afro-Cuban and American blues roots. In its newest commercial incarnation, Santana drew upon a roster of contemporary artists, including Lauryn Hill, Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews, who's rumored to be a special guest at the final date on Santana's current tour, Oct. 28 at the Chronicle Pavilion in Concord. (Matthews will be playing at the Bridge Benefit the same day.) After Concord, Santana will take a months-long hiatus.

Los Angeles-area Latin rockers Tribe of Gypsies will open Friday's Shoreline show, and rapper Erik "Everlast" Schrody will join Santana on Saturday, no doubt for a version of "Put Your Lights On" from the Supernatural album.

Always a highlight of any Santana show is its phenomenal rhythm section, including congista Raul Rekow and drummer Karl Perazzo, both frequent visitors to the South Bay for gigs at San Jose's club Fuel and to perform with drum master Jorge Bermudez. Another recent addition to the band is Watsonville's Andy Vargas, who livens up the stage show with contemporary Latin dance moves.

Vargas will trade verses with Santana's soulful lead singer of the past decade, Tony Lindsay, a fixture of the local club scene who will get to sleep in his own bed this weekend after spending much of this year on the road. "It's home," the vocalist says about Shoreline.

"I wish I could give everybody free passes and everything, but it can't happen. But trust me, everybody tries," he laughs. "I get phone calls up the yin yang. I just can't do it. There's just too many.

Lindsay's overnight transformation from playing clubs to performing in amphitheaters is one of the dramatic stories of the Santana saga, but Lindsay stays close to his roots by continuing to play with the group Spangalang, and he says he's comforted by the support that local fans and club owners continue to show him.

"One of the main things that I get the most enjoyment out of is seeing the people that know me, y'know, as far as friends and relatives and old Spangalang followers, just the joy that they're getting out of this whole thing that's happening with me. You don't know how good that makes me feel. You know how you can get people who are real envious and start saying bad things about you? I don't hear none of that kind of stuff.

"They seem like they're enjoying this as much as I am."

Santana performs Friday-Saturday (Oct. 20-21) at 7:30pm at Shoreline Amphitheater.

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From the October 19-25, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. MetroActive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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