weather icon Partly Cloudy

Mona Lisa helps inspire new Santana music trilogy

Updated November 3, 2018 - 9:05 pm

Carlos Santana disclosed a past romance the other day. His was a brazen description of a long-lost love, even as his wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, sat at his side.

The object of his affection was a woman named Mona Lisa. The woman in Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous portrait would become the muse for a Santana music trilogy.

In the guitar great’s retelling of how this came to be, he and Cindy were on a 2016 trip to Paris. She suggested a visit to the Louvre to see the great painting.

“I’ve never seen Mona Lisa, and I’ve been visiting Paris since 1970,” Santana said in a chat at Henderson City Hall prior to the public dedication of the third art piece and bench in his ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity. “So we got in this line, and I’m telling you this line was bigger than the line to see most acts today. It was gi-mungous!”

Santana, an unquestioned rock legend whose residency at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay continues on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Nov. 11, waited in that line.

“Once we got to her, through all these corridors — it took forever — we see that she has her own air-conditioned room,” he said. “There was like a sea of Japanese tourists, just taking pictures. Once I finally moved close, and got next to her, I’m looking at Mona Lisa and I’m like, ‘Woooow!’ ”

Santana says Mona Lisa spoke to him. For real.

“And she says — I swear to you — she says, ‘Hiii!’ And I say, ‘Hiii!’ And she says, ‘Do you remember when we were lovers?’ ” Santana, now grinning, recalled. “Now, I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say, ‘No.’ So I said, ‘Yeah!’”

I offer, “This would be long before Cindy was around, right?”

“Oh, it was a long time ago,” she said, laughing. “It was more than a couple of years ago. Actually, it was centuries ago.”

Inspired by this moment, Santana has written a piece titled, “In Search of Mona Lisa.” Cindy is on drums and one of Santana’s music heroes, Ron Carter, is on bass.

“It’s so beautiful,” Cindy said, as Santana added, “It’s a musical trilogy and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

As for the business at hand, Santana’s bench-art partnership has resulted in three pieces developed by Las Vegas woodworker Kerm Sablan and artist Justin Lepper. The first two pieces read LOVE and MUSIC, and are on display at House of Blues. The third says PEACE AND LOVE, and all of the benches will be moved to Henderson’s historic Pittman neighborhood next year.

I asked Santana if the project, which is to produce a total of five benches, could be expanded to maybe dozens of pieces spreading love and joy all over the city. “You never know, we have had the Cow Parade, all those cows as art, before,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot of these benches around.” Somehow, I feel his former flame would agree.

A Clay doc

Master of reinvention and Las Vegas resident Andrew Dice Clay is the focus of an upcoming documentary being directed by John Singleton, who directed “Boyz n the Hood” and “2 Fast 2 Furious.” The yet-untitled movie, with a yet-unannounced released date, will be produced by Gene Kirkwood, the executive producer behind “Rocky” and “The Defiant Ones.”

On Oct. 12, as news of the project broke, Clay told the New York Post’s Page Six, “This isn’t going to be some documentary where we show the rise and fall and rise again. When people are done watching this, they’re going to really see who Andrew Dice Clay/Andrew Silverstein really is.”

In text Saturday, Clay declined comment. Riding high as a cast member in the Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper hit “A Star is Born,” Clay is back at Laugh Factory at Tropicana Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

Ruvo doc on PBS

“Power of Love,” a documentary centering on the Ruvo family and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, airs at 10 p.m. Monday on PBS in Las Vegas. The doc will repeat throughout the month (check local listings, as we say), as November is national Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. A screening of a segment from the documentary was held Thursday night at the Cleveland Clinic’s Keep Memory Alive Event Center.

Largely a project of KMA board member Michael Severino of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, the project focuses on the relationship between Larry Ruvo and his father, Lou, who succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 1994 and was the inspiration for the center named for him in Symphony Park.

“I’m overwhelmed by the exposure by the KMA will receive because of PBS,” Ruvo said in a phone chat Saturday. “Because of this documentary, what happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. It will go across the country.”

Cool Hang Alert

Le Cabaret at Paris Las Vegas is Groove Central every night of the week. The lineup rotates between veteran Vegas lounge act Jamm, Pop Rebels, Status and These Guys Worldwide. The grooving is so strong that every night is a viral video, waiting to happen. Hours are 9 p.m.-1 a.m. weekdays, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. weekends. The cover is “none,” and bring yer dancin’ shoes.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @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.