Music can often mark a moment in time, but great music is eternal. The ageless guitarist and songwriter Carlos Santana proved this during a recent performance at Jiffy Lube Live.
The Aug. 14 show began with a video clip of a 22-year-old Carlos Santana and his then band performing “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock. It has been 50 years since over 500,000 young people descended upon an upstate New York dairy farm for the music festival that would become emblematic of the era. The epic performance introduced the world to Santana’s style of Latin laced psychedelic rock.
Watch Santana perform “Soul Sacrifice” live at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 on YouTube:
The ever-cool guitar deity stepped onto the Jiffy Lube Live stage wielding his fretted instrument. Santana spent the evening manipulating strings into chords that personified a range of emotions. Under his tutelage, the guitar sang, wailed, and serenaded. It pierced the soul and reverberated through the amphitheater during the intro for “Black Magic Woman.” Singer Ray Green took the lead on the song, and it was an alchemy of rock, blues, and Latin rhythms.
Members of the supporting act and legends in their own right, Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers, returned to the stage to contribute to the performance of “She’s Not There.” What proceeded was a paragon of perfection. The chemistry on stage was undeniable as nimble fingers plucked guitar strings, dexterous hands worked the percussion instruments, and wrists descended upon keyboards. Andy Vargas’s energetic vocals completed the virtuoso performance.
Maracas, congas, güiros, oh my. Many of the instruments used during the show were distinctively Latin but their origins can be traced back to Africa. Santana explores Latin music’s connection to the continent in his recently released album Africa Speaks (2019). The album is a collaboration between Santana, jazz-influenced flamenco fusion singer Buika, and mega-producer Rick Rubin.
Andy Vargas sang Buika’s vocals during the performance of the lead single from Africa Speaks, “Breaking Down the Door.” The Afro Latin infused cover of Calypso Rose’s “Abatina” elucidated the linkages between African, Latin American, and Caribbean music.
Stream Africa Speaks by Santana on Spotify:
The band continued to fuse sounds during the funky crowd favorite “Oye Como Va.” The song, released in 1970, foreshadowed a wave of Latin artists that would gain crossover success in the coming decades. The ‘90s “Latin Explosion” made household names of Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and countless other musicians.
It was during this time that Santana released Supernatural. The 1999 album introduced the children of the Woodstock generation to Santana and earned him nine Grammy awards, including Album of the Year. The audience danced in the aisles as Santana performed “Maria, Maria,” “Corazón Espinado,” and “Smooth.”
During his career, Santana has produced 40 albums and earned countless awards. What’s more impressive is his ability to defy time. Throughout his performance, he displayed the same exuberance that stole the show at Woodstock. Apparently, time and tide wait for none, unless you’re Carlos Santana.
Other highlights from the night included Santana’s performance of:
- “Put Your Lights On,” Supernatural (1999)
- “Evil Ways / Love Supreme (John Coltrane cover),” Santana (1969)
- “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” Power of Peace (2017)
- “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” The Temptations cover
Here are some pictures of Santana performing at Jiffy Lube Live on Aug. 14, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Will Colbert.