Classic Rock Corner

Santana Revisits Woodstock and Supernatural at The Woodlands

The light shines bright on Santana, his music, and his fans.
The light shines bright on Santana, his music, and his fans. Photo by Marco Torres

Carlos Santana, The Doobie Brothers
The Woodlands Pavilion
July 7th, 2019

Fifty years ago next month, a skinny Mexican-American guitarist named Carlos Santana took center stage with his band at the Woodstock Peace & Music Festival in Bethel, New York, providing one of the most inspired and memorable musical performances ever witnessed. Twenty years ago, Santana released the now 15x platinum album Supernatural, which won over new generations of listeners while at the same time invigorating his already fervent fanbase.

At age 71, Santana continues to create magic, armed with his newest album entitled Africa Speaks. Recorded at the Shangri La Studios in Malibu, California, it was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, and draws inspiration from a litany of African singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists. All of the tracks feature the Spanish/African vocalist Buika, who also co-wrote the album. The whirlwind recording session lasted 10 days, resulting in a total of 49 tracks, 11 of which were placed on the album.

click to enlarge Santana's newest album is entitled Africa Speaks. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
Santana's newest album is entitled Africa Speaks.
Photo by Marco Torres
Scenes from Woodstock were displayed on screen as the band took the stage one by one. Those images were accompanied by messages of peace and love, setting the mood and opening minds of the near capacity crowd in attendance. The set list began strongly with roaring renditions of "Soul Sacrifice", "Jingo", and "Evil Ways".

An always cool Carlos hit each note with supreme energy and mastery, pounding and plucking with both ferocity and tenderness. He is not exactly a band leader but more of a guide, using head nods, looks, and other non-verbal cues to conduct each song offering. In fact, he spends almost half of his time on stage with his eyes closed, lost in the ecstasy of the music, emanating energy from his fingers, soul, and smile.

click to enlarge At 71 years old, Santana shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
At 71 years old, Santana shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Photo by Marco Torres

The tempo slowed as "Victory Is Won" played, which features the smooth guitar riffs and a playful organ solo wrapped around a moody dreamscape that is expected from this band. Carlos took time to thank the crowd for their energy and applause, promising to keep the hits coming.

The Doobie Brothers joined Santana for "She's Not There" from the album Moonflower, which then transitioned into "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" by The Temptations. You never really know where a night with Santana might lead, from Latin rhythms to rock, R&B to Afro/World music, and seemingly everything in between. They even took a time out to celebrate a crew member's birthday, gifting the gentleman a guitar, flowers, and a rendition of "You're Still A Young Man" by Tower Of Power.

 
click to enlarge Andy Vargas, one of the group's lead singers, extends his arms towards the crowd. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
Andy Vargas, one of the group's lead singers, extends his arms towards the crowd.
Photo by Marco Torres
The night concluded with two of Supernatural's biggest hits, the radio-friendly "Smooth" featuring Rob Thomas and the Rock En EspaƱol track "Corazon Espinado" with Mexican rock band Mana.

It definitely was a hot one, like seven inches from the mid-day sun.


 
click to enlarge Carlos and his band will headline the Woodstock 50 Music Festival next month. - PHOTO BY MARCO TORRES
Carlos and his band will headline the Woodstock 50 Music Festival next month.
Photo by Marco Torres
 
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When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Houston Press contributor Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond.