Back in mid-May Carlos Santana appeared as an in-studio guest on the nationally syndicated classic rock radio program “Rockline.” Host Bob Coburn interviewed Santana along with callers from Redding, California to Chattahoochee, Florida and everything in between with their questions. Santana was there primarily to promote his latest album “Shape Shifter.” In between commercials breaks there were audio clips of his greatest hits to current tracks being played. “Rockline” featured the interview on their website for two weeks. Here is what transpired during the two-hour show on May 16 segmented into five sections.
Clip 1 – Santana promoted “Shape Shifter”, his 36th album. Host Bob Coburn congratulated him. Coburn brought up Woodstock, the seminal music festival, where Santana made his own voice. Carlos said he looked up to the other artists who were performing at Woodstock and the San Francisco era musicians. About the late 1960s he stated it was OK to question authority.
The new album is dedicated to Native Americans who had no honor for them previously. Others such as the Year of the Woman or Child are more prevalent. “Shape Shifter” is an instrumental album with no guests. The songs were composed from 1997 to 2007 on the current album. We hear one of the album tracks “Nomad” in its entirety.
When he was on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” they received a standing ovation, because the audience and crew were jamming to his music. It showed people are still thirsty again for real live music. Iran loves Metallica and Santana. Carlos said he hears from a lot of Iranian fans. “Angelica’s Faith” from “Shape Shifter” is played out.
Clip 2 – His classic “Samba Pa Ti” from the “Abraxas” album opened the next segment. Coburn stated how instrumentals have their own words. The first phone caller came from Redding, California. Miguel asked what to expect from his shows with the set list. Santana talked about “backward flips into the unknown” which are their improv numbers at any given concert. He spoke about his residency at Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues in Las Vegas.
From Waukegan, Illinois it is Chris who asked “what was your inspiration for the song “Maria Maria?” Santana said it came from Wyclef Jean. Wyclef made up the whole song on the spot. He talked about his Maria Maria restaurants. There are two in California: Walnut Creek and Danville and one in Austin, Texas. His other business ventures are Casa Noble (tequila) and Carlos Santana Shoes with proceeds going towards the Milagro Foundation.
We hear “Smooth” in its entirety. Santana won a total of 10 Grammys from his stellar “Supernatural” album. “Never the Same Again”, a beautiful song, is played to close this segment.
Clip 3 – Santana’s mega hit “Black Magic Woman” brings us back. A previous guest on “Rockline”, Joe Walsh, asked a question to Santana that was pre-recorded. “What is the sweetest amp you’ve ever played through?” Immediately Santana said he loves his tone. Walsh then asked “What amp combo do you plug into?” His reply was the Mesa/Boogie and Dumble combination. He likes Blue Tone since it uses three amplifiers, but not for volume. Instead it is used for headtones, chestones and bellytones like what a singer uses. He’s faithful to Boogie since 1972 and will continue till the day he dies. Santana doesn’t use pedals, except for wah wah, because pedals rob you of your identity.
Santa Cruz, California with Jared asked how has spirituality impacted your sound over the years? Carlos said John Coltrane taught him about the light or spirit that inspires his music.
Fridley, Minnesota called in with this excellent question. “What was it like to share the same stage with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock?” It was unbelievable and to share it also with Sly Stone and Janis Joplin too. He thanked Bill Graham for the incredible opportunity to perform at Woodstock. The other artists there never shunned him at the festival. The title track “Shape Shifter” is played. Santana explained the significance of the album title. Dennis Chambers’ boom on the drums ends the song with a punch.
A Plymouth, Massachusetts caller wanted to know if the next album will be another instrumental or a commercial sound venture? Santana said he bases it on how he feels. He is constantly aspiring to go to new places. The Allman Brothers will be a dual headliner show on their upcoming tour. He doesn’t want to do just Allman Brothers or Santana music with them; he wants to do other artists and genres. One of the rare times they play a cover song done by Santana of “She’s Not There” by The Zombies.
Clip 4 – “Everything’s Coming Our Way” takes us into another portion of Santana’s interview. He mentioned Curtis Mayfield’s brilliant songwriting. Another caller from Chattahoochee, Florida, Ira, asked about his indie label Starfaith Records. “Will it be guitar oriented?” “Yes, he wants to work with Guitar Magazine.” Coburn loves the name of the label. It is so Carlos Santana.
Los Angeles checks in with Yvette as she asked what it was like to work Orianthi. “What is she like?” Santana has been aware of her immense talent since she was 7 or 8 years old. He saw her in Australia where her intense passion and laser beam concentration impressed him. Carlos said Orianthi can “PLAY.”
Joe Walsh had another question for Carlos “Why don’t you play something acoustic on an album?” That is exactly what Carlos has done on the recent track of “Mr. Szabo.” He loves Gypsy people from Hungary, India and France who are also known as Gypsy Kings. We got the opportunity to hear “Mr. Szabo.” Della from Erlanger, Kentucky asked about the already released “Live from Montreaux” DVD.
Adrian from Las Cruces, New Mexico asked what is your favorite guitar and how many do you take with you? He takes a Paul Reed guitar and it’s usually 5-7 of them on the road. Coburn asked how many do you have overall? No more than 50 guitars. About 10-15 he has put in a safe to give to his children. He owns a ‘57 Stratocaster, which is the Holy Grail of electric guitars. Some of the others he’ll sign and give to charities.
The host asked about his son Salvador. Carlos is very proud of him. Salvador has grown so much musically. He has the spark of the divine to touch people’s hearts. The track “Spark of the Divine” is played. It’s only 62 seconds long.
Clip 5 – We finally hear “Oye Como Va” and “Nowhere to Run.” Ross from Grand Rapids, Michigan asked how did he assemble such great musicians for the “Abraxas” album? It was fascinating how Santana told the story when the band was formed initially. At the time he was just a dishwasher. Someone heard him play and then took Carlos to Palo Alto. There he met Gregg Rolie and others who would go on to form the Woodstock era band.
Crown Point, Indiana asked how the current album got its name. Carlos responded with the Native Americans transforming themselves to one form from another. He also shapes shifts while playing, metaphorically speaking.
Sound Beach, New York asked what is your fondest memory in your lengthy career? Naturally Carlos said touring with Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis whom he thinks are geniuses. Another fond memory is watching his son Salvador become an accomplished musician. “Metratron” is played while he explained its meaning. It is the spark that creates matter. Carlos calls it “graduation.” “Rockline” ends with another of Santana’s classic instrumentals, “Europa.”