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New music and an old festival in Santana’s plans

Updated May 15, 2019 - 10:33 am

Carlos Santana’s creativity knows no borders. He has released an album inspired by African rhythms and themes. He’s ready to perform on the wide-open while spaces of rural New York. He’s in residency in a music hall on the Las Vegas Strip.

Santana unveiled his new album, “Africa Speaks,” at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Tuesday morning. The resonant Spanish vocalist Buika, who sang on many of the tracks, was at his side. The album was recorded in less than two weeks at renowned producer Rick Rubin’s studio in L.A. Forty-nine songs were recorded. Eleven made the final release.

“The rest are incubating,” Santana said after Tuesday’s listen-back event, in which three songs were sampled. “They are still growing.”

Santana earlier said he plans to headline both the Woodstock 50 festival, promoted by original Woodstock organizer Michael Lang, on Aug. 16 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.; and the competing Bethel Woods Season of Song & Celebration Anniversary Festival in Bethel Woods, N.Y.

“I’m going to be at both,” Santana said. “They may not be, but I will be.”

Woodstock 50 has been dogged by investment shortfalls and permit delays, but organizers say it will go on, with Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, the Killers and Chance the Rapper also on the Aug. 16 opening lineup. Santana says he intends to follow through with plans to close Friday’s opening show at Woodstock 50, then perform alongside the Doobie Brothers at the Bethel Woods event the next night.

Santana joked about his original Woodstock performance, when he famously performed his groundbreaking set after taking a tab of mescaline offered by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

“This time, everybody’s going to take acid,” the guitar legend said, “and I’m going to be the straight one.”

Santana is back onstage Wednesday through May 25 at House of Blues, and has just added dates in September, October and November. Santana and Buika are singing four songs from “Africa Speaks” Wednesday night.

The energy and sonic power of Santana’s performances would make a terrific live release, maybe as a follow-up to “Africa Speaks.” Santana has been contemplating a live recording from HoB.

“I’m very serious about doing that. We record every show,” Santana said. “It’s just a matter of selecting the most exciting, vulnerable moments — I think people need to witness other people being vulnerable. We’re going to do it, and take it to the four corners of the world.”

Giovi in fine voice

Mark Giovi, a favorite Vegas vocalist who can blast rock ‘n’ roll and soar with opera classics, is back onstage at 8 p.m. Thursday at Italian American Club. Giovi is joined by his father, Lou, and longtime singing partner Genevieve Dew (tickets are $20, a mere pittance, available by calling 702-457-3866).

The show marks Mark Giovi’s first ticketed performance since his singing career nearly was undercut by a rare vocal condition.

Giovi sang in “Bite” at the Strat for six years, and was an original member of the Las Vegas Tenors. He had been singing regularly around town when, in January 2017 during a show at IAC, he noticed “something different” in his voice, feeling his vocal chords were weakening.

Giovi’s voice continued to decline, to a croak when he tried to speak. He spent the next several months visiting vocal specialists and neurologists, including those at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. He finally was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, which causes the voice to spasm and falter, without warning.

Giovi spent more than a year in therapy, and not singing, as he took an assistant-management position at Trattoria Reggiano at Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes. Nearly a year ago to the day, Giovi underwent a botox-injection procedure to treat the muscles in his neck that control his vocal chords. He’s since been taking lounge and restaurant gigs around town until feeling ready to return to a full-scale performance.

“Physically, I’ll be fine, but it will feel a little weird,” Giovi said. “I’m about 90 percent back. I still sound like a horse when I speak (true), but when I sing, I’m good.”

Taking a flyer on this one

“The Princess Wendy Late Night Tease Room” at the Attic inside the Nerd Bar at Neonopolis (whew) is performed 10 p.m. this Wednesday and next. The show is fronted by the mighty Morgans of Las Vegas — Matt and Heidi — who have appeared alternately in “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace and “Opium” at Cosmopolitan. They also brought the intoxicating, Shakespeare-inspired satire “Shotspeare” to the now-closed Cabaret space at Planet Hollywood.

We’re told, “Birthday party performer by day, naughty booze-filled burlesque performer by night. Princess Wendy will charm your socks off while her band of beautiful and bizarre bandits take of more than just their socks!”

Alliteration at the Attic! Always awesome! See you there.

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, @JohnnyKats1on Instagram.

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