Santana at Bayou Music Center, 10/1/2014
photos by Marco Torres
¡Con el corazon, se hace todos los milagros! (With heart, one can make miracles)
Carlos Santana "Corazón" tour Bayou Music Center October 1, 2014
As I was watching the documentary B.B. King: The Life of Riley last week, I saw a familiar face on screen. It was rock legend and guitar hero Carlos Santana, speaking about the attributes that fueled B.B. King's music.
"You need to be sincere, honest, true, for real, and genuine. If you've got those five things, then you can play the blues" he declared. Those characteristics are definitely true about Mr. King, but they can certainly also be said about Mr. Santana.
The imprint that Santana has left on American music is undeniable. This man was part of the psychedelic-rock era in 1960s San Francisco, famously played at Woodstock, is the winner of ten Grammy awards, and was a 2013 Kennedy Center Honoree. He is without a doubt one of music's most recognizable and respected talents.
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Rolling Stone listed him as No. 20 on their list of "100 Greatest Guitarists," although I would argue he should have been in the Top 10, or even Top 5.
So I was ecstatic when Bayou Music Center was added to his Corazón Tour -- it would be the smallest, most intimate venue I've ever seen him play, which added to the "gotta-be-there" sentiment. Plus, the album of the same name released earlier this year was a much better offering than his previous two albums (2010's Guitar Heaven and 2012's Shape Shifter).
Dubbed "The Latin Supernatural," Corazón is a combination of covers and duets with a constellation of talented Latinos such as Gloria Estefán, Pitbull, Juanes, Romeo Santos and more. It has already been certified double platinum.
"Wow Houston! You look like a masterpiece!" he flirted as the last notes of the opening song rang silent. Outfitted in his signature fedora, mirrored sunglasses, and Paul Reed Smith guitar, Carlos was without a doubt the star that gave life to the show. With his medium-length curly hair and spiritual radiance, he resembled a rock-star Jesus as he plucked, strummed, and wailed away at his axe.
Santana is an ultimate performer. He knows what his audience wants to hear, and he always delivers. "I know you want 'Europa' and 'Samba Pa Ti', and you're gonna get it!", he said. "Heck, I'll even play 'La Cucaracha' if you want me too!"
And that's one of the reasons he ranks tied for No. 1 on my list of favorite artists (along with Jay Z): he plays the classics, but always with an interesting twist, sprinkling reggae and mariachi and cumbia into the mix, keeping the fans on their toes and happy.
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The Santana Band is also a superstar in its own right, keeping up with their ringleader note for note, playing with such force and ability, all while churning out some of the greatest rock, blues and tropical rhythms ever composed. From the percussionists to the organist, the bass player, backup singers and horn section, each individual produced on such a high level, there was never a boring moment in the show.
Within all the chaos of the concert, one of the sweetest moments was when Carlos and the band took time to wish singer and Houstonian Andy Vargas a very happy birthday, surprising him with cake, candles, and his very own guitar. Moved with emotion, he thanked Santana and the band as they played "The Birthday Song" and "You're Still A Young Man" by Tower of Power.
Carlos then closed with these words:
"You have one mission; to be elevating, transforming, and illuminating. Make every day the best day of your life!".
I've seen you 15 times sir, most of those time with my best friend in the whole world. And each of those days have been a "best day" because of you and your music. Gracias, paisano!
Personal Bias: Carlos Santana was one of the first concerts I ever attended as a teenager. Since then, I've seen him live all over the country almost 15 times, and I even interviewed him by phone for this blog back in 2012. So yes, I definitely do have a "personal bias" for this vato.
The Crowd: Older, but lively crowd. All music lovers, ready to see the master at work.
Overheard In the Crowd: "This is some real panty-droppin' music right here!" and "Dude. Stop acting weird and play another song"
Everybody's Everything (Get Ready) BMW/Voodoo Queen Oye Como Va Maria Maria Foo Foo Corazon Espinado/Guajira Jingo Europa No One To Depend On Hope You're Feeling Better La Flaca Tequila Tropical Chill Out/Sácalo Fuera (Javier Blues Band cover) Happy Birthday/You're Still A Young Man (Dedication to Andy Vargas) Smooth Soul Sacrifice Saideira
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.
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