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Carlos Santana preps for Vegas return, mourns Watts’ death

Updated August 25, 2021 - 8:43 am

The news that Charlie Watts had passed away hadn’t hit Carlos Santana until he sat for a series of interviews at House of Blues on Tuesday morning.

When asked about Watts, the rock legend responded as if he’d lost a brother, gasping first and then saying, “Oh, no, no, no, no.”

The response was characteristically authentic, as Santana showed real emotion over Watts’ death, announced earlier in the day in London at age 80.

Santana often shared the same bill a the Rolling Stones.

“Because of (iconic rock promoter) Bill Graham, we were always invited to open for the Rolling Stones, at least nine or 10 times,” Santana said. “They were all memorable. To open for the Rolling Stones was, you know, tops.”

The House of Blues headliner paused and added, “I’m numb right now, because I have a lot of respect for him as a light, as a spirit, as a soul, and for his musicianship. Wow. That’s a milestone.”

Santana added that his wife, the masterful drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, was also a huge fan of Watts. “Cindy loves him. He’s a great, great, great musician.”

Our ‘Blessings’

Santana is playing “two or three” songs from the upcoming “Blessings & Miracles” album as his show relaunches Wednesday night. “This is music we can all identify with,” he said. Expect the band to unleash “Move,” which was a highlight of “The Homecoming Concert” in New York. Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty sings on the song, reviving the blockbuster collaboration from the 1999 hit “Smooth.”

Otherwise, Santana’s the show will be propelled by the classics, with “Oye Como Va” “Evil Ways,” “No One to Depend On” and “”Soul Sacrifice” in the mix.

“I want to stay close to a certain direction,” Santana said. “Later on we can veer off and improvise a whole lot more. But right now, I feel like we he haven’t played in so long, we need to revisit the songs and take people to the music they grew up with. But you can take the set list, cut it up and throw it like confetti, and we can play it.”

On of the veer might be a Carlos and Cindy jam, just the couple, a guitar-and-drums foray.

“We can do something together, not for now but later on, too,” Santana said. “We have done that in rehearsals. It’s great.”

Safety play

Santana said he was confident House of Blues would be a safe environment. Ticket holders are required to wear masks. The band is not.

“I trust that there is a circle of angels and arch-angels always around to protect me,” he said. I asked, “Those angels are vaccinated?” and the rock star said, “Yeah!”

Newton, Watts horseplay

Music fans might not realize the Wayne Newton-Watts connection, but those in the Arabian horse community know of it.

Watts visited Newton’s horses at Casa de Shenandoah in October 2016. The rock star and his wife, Shirley, bred and raised Arabians on a farm in Devonshire, England.

“Charlie and I had a wonderful time talking about our passion for Arabian horses and antique cars,” Newton said at the time. “He is a great man, and a humble man, and I was honored to welcome him to the ranch.”

On Tuesday, Newton said in a statement, “The world has lost one of the greatest drummers of all time who shared his deep love of music with those of us who were fortunate enough to hear him play. But more importantly, he was a kind, caring man who loved his family so deeply. We shared our love of family, music, and Arabian horses. I send my sincere condolences to Shirley and (daughter) Seraphina.”

The ‘Magic’ is back

“Magic Mike Live” opens Friday night in its much-hyped (at least, from here) new theater at Sahara Las Vegas. The show is requiring the production is requiring proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test result 72 hours prior to attending a performance. Proof can be enacted with a screen shot of a ticket-holders vax card, coupled with an ID to match the name.

The show is trumpeting two new cast members, Meredith Ostrowsky and Lake Smits. Ostrowsky is a dancer, aerialist, and choreographer who has toured with Taylor Swift on the Speak Now World Tour and worked with Katy Perry, Pink, Carrie Underwood, and Rihanna. Smits began dancing with Janet Jackson at age 18.

The stage show is also the inspiration for the HBO Max series, “The Real Magic Mike,” a contest of regular guys to earn a spot in the production.

After images

“The After Party” came off as billed over the weekend. It was a hunka-hunka burnin’ fun at The Venetian’s Sands Showroom with Nick Carter and AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys, Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men and Joey Fatone of ‘NSync.

Sunday, rap icon (and North Las Vegas resident) Coolio joined the party. Saturday it was Ray Parker Jr. for “Ghostbusters,” Bobby Brown on “My Prerogative” along with Morris’ Boyz II Men band mate Shawn Stockman in the lineup. Thursday, Luis Fonsi and Stockman performed, all of ‘em unbilled.

“The ‘After Party’ was a party, every single night,” said SPI Entertainment founder Adam Steck, who co-produced the show along with Joe Mulvihill’s Mulvi Group. “The crowds saw it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to see these guys shine outside their own groups. It’s a powerful formula.”

Powerful, in an off-the-rails sort of way. Comic Jo Koy was invited (or maybe invited himself) to the stage during Friday’s rowdy performance. Koy, also a Vegas resident, took a spot in one of the sectionals, next to Morris, and stood to record video on his phone whenever he felt like it.

Koy was essentially part of the show. When Carter fired a jab at Fatone, saying, “At least I have some leads that I can sing,” Koy popped up and said, “I want everyone to know how DOPE that BURN was that Nick just gave Joey!” and mimicked ‘N Sync’s hand movements for “Bye Bye Bye.”

Fatone countered, “Jo, the next time you have a show, I’m coming onstage!”

That’s Sept. 3-5 at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. And on the topic of Encore Theater …

Maniscalco’s talkback

Sebastian Maniscalco just completed a sold-out weekend at Encore. Great material, as usual, including commentary of Vegas dayclubs. “Remember when we just went to the pool? Now, there’s a line, to get to the pool. And you get to the front of the line and they say, ‘You want to go to the pool? That’ll be 10 grand.”

A guy in the upper regions shouted down at the stage maybe a half-dozen times. I ask, “Why?” So did Maniscalco, who reacted with, “Why isn’t anyone around him telling him to shut up?”

The comic finally said, “This is not a team experience. I’ll do this by myself, OK?” That put a clamp on it. But seriously, I’ll never identify with someone going to a comedy show and popping off. The greats, such as Maniscalco, know how to handle it.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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