Carlos Santana Hits House of Blues
By Mark Adams
Carlos Santana giving the crowd a hit at House of Blues this spring
If there were one musician best suited to becoming the first resident headliner at House of Blues Las Vegas, it would surely be Carlos Santana. The legendary guitarist has an impressive, extensive songbook, not to mention 10 Grammy awards, and his appeal spans generations. Thus, An Intimate Evening with Santana: Greatest Hits Live—Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow was born. The show, which returns September 12 after a hiatus, changes nightly and promises songs that don’t fit the classic definition of a hit.
“I think that the word ‘hit’ has two meanings,” says Santana, a local resident who completed his Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits residency at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Joint in 2011. “Something that is radio-tested, but also a hit means I’m going to hit you so hard that you’re going to start dancing, crying, laughing.”
Santana describes his songs as plates, saying the food is fresh each night. And during some shows, his wife, Cindy Blackman, “tears up the house” on the drums to surprise the audience. “There are places in the set where no one knows where I’m going to go, including myself,” Santana says. “To quote Wayne Shorter, it’s ‘taking a backwards flip into the unknown.’ People like that.”
Santana took a backward flip of a different kind when he branched out into fashion and other merchandising projects, starting with the Carlos by Carlos Santana women’s shoe line that can currently be found at Macy’s. “We make a lot of women happy with those shoes, like Supernatural— Supernatural made a lot of women happy,” says Santana, referring to his Grammy-winning hit album. He has also designed guitars and is a part owner of the Casa Noble brand of high-end tequilas. His involvement in the design and production processes of the products he backs varies, but he’s quick to note the common thread shared by each of his business ventures.
“The one thing is,” he says, “whatever we sell, it has integrity.”
Coming from anyone else, those words might sound disingenuous, but Santana is known and beloved for his eccentric, peace-and-love musings.
“We utilize music to help people remember that they are significant and meaningful, they can make a difference in the world,” he says. “We inject people with a different kind of resonant sound.” House of Blues Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, 702-632-7600
Photography by denise truscello