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Carlos Santana On Woodstock & The Power Of Music: "These People Wanted The Same Things We Want Today"
You may have heard that this August marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the music festival still ripe in our social consciousness. It was billed as "three days of peace & music," and whether or not Michael Lang's still TBD Woodstock 50 is able to recreate this, it lives on and embodies everything world-famous guitarist Carlos Santana does. And he's already celebrating it.
The 10-time GRAMMY winner first tapped into the black magic power of his guitar shredding back in '69 on the famed stage at Bethel Farm along with his then-new band Santana. 50 years later, he shows no signs of slowing down—and he is still connected with his musical and spiritual roots. The group is celebrating their big year—it also marks 20 years since they released the 42nd GRAMMY Awards knock-out album Supernatural—with the epic 29 date Supernatural Now Tour.
"We're going to bring a lot of fury and fire [on tour]. Most of the time, we play close to two-and-a-half to three hours, so we're going to honor yesterday, today and tomorrow," Mr. Santana explained in a recent Rolling Stone interview. The group recently released their 25th studio album, Africa Speaks, featuring Spanish singer Buika on vocals for all 11 powerful tracks, on June 7. The band enlisted power-producer, and fellow GRAMMY winner, Rick Rubin to assist, and recorded it at his famous Shangri La Studios. On the tour this new music, along with their endlessly epic catalog, is helping arenas full of people across North America feel something.
"The state of the world is so infected with fear and separation and disharmony, I know for a fact that the frequency of this music from Africa gives people hope, courage and joy. The ingredients and the nutrients from everything that comes from African music makes people dance and rejoice like a revival," Santana said in the interview.
He explained that Afro sounds have always had a special place in his heart and his music collection, and he wanted to make an album honoring the beauty and power of that aesthetic.
"I originally heard 'Africa Speaks' on a Cannonball Adderley record, Accent On Africa. I put the poem in there and Buika put the vocals in it. We basically took these African songs, and I asked permission in every kind of way from the writers, so we got all that with impeccable integrity, then we redid the songs our way," he explained. And with the tour having kicked off already, he's seen its power at work.
"People like 'Breaking Down the Door.' We're in a place that people need rejoicing. People need celebrating. People need romance. Everybody is thirsty for higher consciousness, righteousness," Santana shared. "I can see it because I'm watching the audience sometimes and I can see how they respond to the music. It's like watering the plants after they haven't been watered for months."
While the visuals and music of the Supernatural Now shows offer a nod to Woodstock, on Aug. 17, exactly 50 years since their breakthrough performance, the tour will stop at Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, the venue that lives on the original site of Woodstock '69. If Woodstock 50 happens, the group is booked to headline the fest the day before that. And Santana is ready to tap back into that energy he first felt 50 years ago.
"I'm ready. My band is ready. By the grace of God, we have the clarity. We have the energy. I have more energy than the first time. So we look forward to tearing it out," he told the outlet. He also spoke to what the first event was really about, peace and music, and how it's still so important today: "The first was done, and I mean this in the most respectful way, with a bunch of long-haired freaks that wanted something different than what was happening in Vietnam or politics or religion. These people wanted the same things we want today."