Yesterday was a non-performance day for Santana in beautiful Sydney, Australia. The crew had already gone ahead to the next concert venue in Canberra but the band and staff enjoyed the day here with sightseeing, resting, and-for Carlos and a few others- a trip to the Sydney Zoo. The day off was particularly welcome because today is one of those days: an afternoon flight to the venue at Canberra, a concert that will end around 11 p.m., and then a 75-minute flight to Gold Coast. This will be followed the next day by an appearance at the Bryon Bay Blues Festival-we're in a tough stretch.
As I think about the rigors of band travel I find myself thinking about Carlos' career and about how many concerts he's played, how many flights he's taken, and how many miles he's covered in his long and fabled life as a world-renowned musician. He's a true road warrior and I must tell you that he shows no sign of slowing down.
The other night as the band waited to go on after the Doobie Brothers opening set Carlos was in a story-telling mood, brought on I think about his excitement about the impending meeting at Bryon Bay in a few days with blues legend Buddy Guy, one of his heroes and a longtime friend. He had wonderful -and sometimes hilarious- tales about B.B. King, Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and other blues greats, and then in response to a question from one of the band guys he began to wax euphoric about his early days attending and then playing at the Fillmore. Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Buddy Rich, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, B.B., were some of the subjects of his stories and remembrances, all shared with a profound respect and wonder all these many years later.
Depending on where you start counting-1966 when the band was known as The Santana Blues Band or a year or so later when they morphed into Santana,-Carlos Santana and Santana are now celebrating fifty years in the music business. Fifty-50- years and he and they are still growing-strong, creative, and dynamic. This milestone seems to be tiptoeing by with little fanfare and scarcely any notice, perhaps because for most of us Santana has always been here. The band has seemingly always been a part of our lives and besides........who's counting?
But for all of you out there please know that the next time you see Carlos Santana in performance, you are seeing history and you are seeing continuing creative genius. And know that after all those years he is still in love with music and with life.
Happy Birthday, Santana and thanks for everything.