Saturday Night: Santana & Spearhead At The Woodlands
Timeless. Classic. Legend. OG - all classifications that tend to be distributed loosely in the music industry these days. Yet for Carlos Santana, the skinny Mexican kid who played at Woodstock and has since accumulated 10 Grammy Awards and several platinum albums, classifying him as anything less would be incongruous. (That vocabulary word-of-the-day calendar is really paying off!)
On a steamy yet breezy Saturday night in The Woodlands, a diverse crowd filed into the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion to witness the spiritual experience that is a Santana concert. Older rock and roll fans sat on the lawn next to low-riders, Harley owners and dread-locked hippies.
Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, aided by second-hand incense smoke - that was incense, right? - and booze. For $35, you can now buy a chilled bottle of White Zinfandel, delivered in a bucket of ice with a stack of plastic cups. Classy!
The night opened up with Michael Franti and Spearhead. You may have heard his song "Say Hey (I Love You)" in a TV commercial for Corona Light beer. Some of his fans were apparently disappointed that his music was used in such a capitalist fashion, given that Franti is a barefoot vegan whose main focus leans towards supporting world peace initiatives and other social issues.
The early crowd was definitely into the reggae-rock dance party that Franti was throwing onstage, and the beach balls that were thrown from it.
As Aftermath took a breather on the picnic tables between the stage and the beer vendors, we met a nice couple named Ernest and Yolanda Vasquez from Pearland. Ernest told us that he is a huge Santana fan, and was supposed to go to Woodstock back in '69, but couldn't raise enough cash to get to from his home in Gary, Indiana, to the festival in New York.
"Money was tough back then, just like it is now" he said. But Sanchez was determined not to let this chance to see Santana slip away, and told us he does remember catching a show for a young singer by the name of Michael Jackson that same year.
The lights dimmed and the stage shone in a calming blue light as the New Santana Band took the stage. The familiar opening organ notes to "Black Magic Woman" drove the crowd to a lively applause, and Carlos walked out from behind the drummer wearing a Panama hat and dark shades.
His old fingers still possess the same speed and determination to pluck and strum the music that elevates him as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He bookended the opening contribution with "Gypsy Queen" and "Oye Como Va."