At some point, you have to wonder if the man can sing.
Carlos Santana, a voice of his generation, is ready to answer that question. The rock legend who has spoken to generations through his guitar is now ready to sing, for the first time in his 50-plus-year career.
We have none other Eric Clapton to thank for this artistic evolution.
The two guitar greats appeared together at the just-unveiled Chase Center in San Francisco on Thursday night.
Afterward, Clapton sought Santana for a one-on-one conversation.
“Eric grabbed my hand, pulled me away from the crowd after we played together, and he asked me, eye to eye, ‘When are you going to sing? When are you going to start singing?’” Santana said Saturday night, about an hour before his unbilled appearance with Rob Thomas to close Bite of Las Vegas at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. “I said, ‘I’ll sing when you produce me, and when you coach me.’ And he shook my hand and said, ‘You’ve got it. We’ll do it.’ ”
It was an idea shared in an informal setting, but Santana appeared serious, saying the whole release will be in his voice and specifying the one cover song he wants to record immediately.
“I’m going to do an album of Carlos singing, and the only song of someone else I want to do is ‘Nature Boy’ (made famous by Nat King Cole),” Santana said. “Everything else, I want to write myself or with him.”
Santana said he has never formally recorded his own voice, though he sings harmonies in his residency show at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.
“I know I have a high range, and I can go really low, too,” he said. “But Eric just zeroed in on me and invited me in … So I am in the process of totally stripping myself of everything that I know, like a snake shedding its skin.”
Later, onstage, Santana and Thomas blew through Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” and “Smooth,” the monster hit released 20 years ago.
“I was invited to do this, because everybody invites me to partake of their celebrations of where they are,” Santana said. “I’m very, very happy to do it.”
Laughter in the streets
Laugh Factory at the Tropicana operator and veteran stand-up Harry Basil has made a deal with promoter “Tommy T Presents” for comedic Earthquake in the 7 p.m. slot Thursdays through Saturdays. Those are Rich Little’s dark nights. The Quake is in for a six-week stint.
Also, two “America’s Got Talent” finalists are headlining the Basil comedy emporium over the coming weeks and months. Jackie Fabulous is in town at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Oct. 17-20. Greg Morton (“The Star Wars Voice Guy”) headlines at those times Dec. 26-31.
Downtown, Plaza Showroom hosted “The Comedy Works” stand-up show for the first time Thursday night. Headliner Jim Florentine and feature comic Greg Vaccariello were super-solid picks to launch the room, which is a classically appointed showroom with a tall, gold curtain, booths and table seating.
Florentine delivered his a terrific stretch about taking his 9-year-old son to Disney World for the first time (hi-jinks ensue). Vaccariello’s performed his slow-motion, basketball-coach bit, which kills every time.
Nick Di Paolo is the series’ next headliner, from Sept. 27-29, and the shows will then run weekly with such comic stars as Tom Green, Lisa Lampanelli and Doug Stanhope booked through the end of the year. Value for such headliners will drive business in this series; tickets start at a downtown-friendly $20, through the fast-selling Stanhope is commanding a $99 price for his appearance New Year’s Eve.
A Peril-ous entrance
Fans of “Fantasy” at Luxor recognized the singer who led Tyson Fury into the ring for his bout against Otto Wallin on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. Lorena Peril, that show’s star singer, serenaded Fury with “El Rey,” inspired by Fury’s new nickname “El Rey de los Gitanos,” as the heavyweight’s entourage cut through the crowd.
The tune is a classic from Vicente Fernández, the undisputed champion of mariachi, and is a powerhouse number typically covered by male singers. But Peril showed she can handle the tune and actually wants to record the song.
The”Fantasy” singer has been crossing into the athletic arena lately; she is also a backing singer for Terry Bradshaw’s recurring headlining production at the Luxor.
Who Was Where
Dionne Warwick, in the vintage-Vegas Pia’s Place hang Saturday night at Piero’s Restaurant. Pia Zadora, Sonny Charles and Sammy Gonzalez (as Liza Minnelli) are back on Fridays and Saturdays after their annual summer break. Warwick is headlining at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace.
Cool Hang Alert
Sal Richards looks like the drunk guy in “The Godfather.” Wait. He was the drunk guy in “The Godfather,” an early role for the veteran actor, producer and comic. Sal and his son, multifaceted comedian Guy Richards, appear in the “Like Father-Like Son” dual comedy show at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Italian American Club.
Joelle Righetti, who has performed with Siegfried & Roy and Lance Burton and in “Vegas! The Show” is guest star. Tickets are $20 advance, $25 at the door, a mere pittance. Click on the club’s website at IACvegas.com or call 702-457-3866 for info.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.