weather icon Partly Cloudy

Carlos Santana’s TV vision is a baby boom

Carlos Santana has a vision for a syndicated TV show originating in Las Vegas, and baby, is it unique.

“I want, for a half-hour in the morning, children arriving, showing that the only way to arrive on this planet is through the love canal,” the guitar great says. “I want to see a baby being born, every day, for us to see the eyes, the stuff that makes miracles, the pureness and innocence.”

More babies, less violence, is the message.

“I want babies,” Santana says. “If we can do ‘Rambo’ and 007 in this world, show all the killings and all this violence, then we should be able to show something as precious as a baby arriving with new promise … it would be a heck of a thing.”

No doubt. This sort of whimsical diversion is characteristic of a conversation with the 69-year-old Santana, forever embracing the counterculture of Woodstock and the late 1960s. His performances at House of Blues are a buoyant mix of his greatest hits — among them “Soul Sacrifice,” “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman” — and seemingly unscripted, spiritual forays (his latest series of shows runs through Sunday at Mandalay Bay).

You might not know his artistic destination in these freewheeling performances, where he jams for several minutes at a time, even during his familiar numbers. Even his backing musicians, eyeing him with great intensity, seem unsure where the rock legend is heading. But it’s always a fantastic voyage.

“We have worked on new beginnings, new middles and new endings,” Santana reveals, setting the general strategy behind this residency, which began in May 2012. “We make everything new and fresh. We are not rubber-stamping it here.”

New to the Vegas performances is vocalist Ray Greene, late of Tower of Power, whose powerful voice and capacity to play trombone is “a win-win for us,” as Santana says. Behind the drums, once more, is Santana’s wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, who joined the band in January after a 23-year run with Lenny Kravitz.

During the House of Blues shows, Santana frequently shifts to face his wife as she thunders away on the drums. The energy between the two is palpable.

Does he ever worry that the intense artistic collaboration might affect their personal relationship?

“I think I used to have this fear of being together too much — on stage, in bed, in the kitchen, in business, all with the same person — because you might get on each other’s nerves,” Santana says. “However, Cindy and I have shattered that notion.

“She is a soft, kind, considerate person who is also mighty when she plays the drums. She’s all of that, and when you hear her, you hear someone who has known since age 7 that all she has wanted to do is wear a big Afro and make a significant, meaningful, musical message.”

Santana’s own musical message has been a return to his roots with the reunion of many of his backing musicians for “Santana IV,” released in April. He recruited guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rolie, drummer Michael Shrieve and percussionist Michael Carabello for what he termed a follow-up to the first three Santana albums, issued from 1969 to ’71. Their ensuing reunion concert was recorded for a DVD and CD to be released Oct. 21.

Santana says further collaborations with those bandmates are possible “if we can work out the logistics.”

Santana, a Las Vegas resident since 2009, is as passionate about philanthropy as he is about music.

His Milagro Foundation has provided grants to charitable organizations around the world. Locally, Santana has made donations and personal visits to Three Square Food Bank and Opportunity Village and has furnished dozens of guitars to students at Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.

That relationship might well lead to a more formal partnership between Santana and Agassi and his wife, Stefani Graf.

“I’d like to see what’s cooking in their stove as far as what they would like to see implemented here in Las Vegas, and take it across the world, like Starbucks has,” Santana says. “I want to have a meeting with them and do something that will lead to more education and less incarceration. I want something that the rest of the nation can copy, but starts here in Las Vegas.”

Santana has used his stage to make cultural and political statements, frequently promoting the legalization of marijuana and supporting the re-election of President Barack Obama during his early shows at House of Blues. He’s curtailed some of that oratory, though away from the stage he says he supports such actions as NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice in America.

But Santana’s show is not a protest experience, nor is it filled with overt political messages. It’s more about establishing a vibe.

“By now, people know who I am and what I am,” Santana says. “I’m playing more intensely and talking less. If you recognize yourself, your own light, I don’t have to tell you who to be or how to be … what matters is finding your energy, and to use it for the higher good.”

It’s an unfailingly positive message from a man who is reborn every day.

John Katsilometes’ column runs Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in the A section and Friday in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on KUNV-FM, 91.5, and appears at 11 a.m. Wednesdays with Dayna Roselli on KTNV-TV, Channel 13. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter and @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Celine Dion’s lounge gig a boon to Las Vegas act

Celine Dion performed “Because You Loved Me,” “Ashes,” Beauty and the Beast” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Her arrival drew a roar from the 300 VIPs in attendance, who were not informed of the night’s entertainment.