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Santana jams for Clive Davis in ‘Carlos’ film premiere event

Updated June 18, 2023 - 10:00 am

NEW YORK CITY — The question’s been, “Why are you in New York?” with all the mass hysteria in VegasVille.

Carlos, and “Carlos,” is the answer.

Weeks in preparation and falling coincidentally on Golden Knights parade night on the Strip, Carlos Santana’s documentary premiered during Tribeca Film Festival. The event played out at a packed Beacon Theatre on Broadway.

It was kind of like a mini-Woodstock, but with a dress code.

“Carlos” is due for theatrical release this fall. Santana, a Las Vegas resident, returns to his residency at House of Blues in September. The film charts Santana’s unlikely rise to rock superstardom, from the barrio in Mexico to Woodstock and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Among those interviewed are Santana’s wife and music collaborator, drummer and composer Cindy Blackman Santana, and his sisters Maria Santana Vrionis and Lety Santana.

Among those in the crowd was legendary producer Clive Davis, with whom Santana won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2000 for “Supernatural.” Davis effectively returned Santana to the top of the charts and middle-of-the-spotlight prominence.

Santana thanked Davis, and the late, trailblazing rock promoter Bill Graham. It was Graham who sent the young Santana on a tour of festivals across the country leading to his thunderous performance at Woodstock in 1969.

“I’m thankful for so many people, especially Bill Graham and Clive Davis,” Santana said from the stage. “Both of them invested in me, emotionally, and financially, and because of them I was able to walk through a big door, which was Woodstock and ‘Supernatural.’”

“Carlos” is a story of how music lifted Santana from meager upbringing, revisiting his relationship with his musician father and violin maestro, Jose. The elder Santana pushed his son to play that instrument; Carlos fell in love with the guitar after hearing from the likes of B.B. King and John Coltrane.

There is priceless footage of Jose playing in mariachi bands, and the father and son jamming together in their later years, after his dad sorted out why his son wanted to play guitar for a living. Santana’s late mother, Josefina Barragan de Santana, is obviously Santana’s most powerful spiritual influence. His eyes light up and voice takes a humble, idolatry tone when he speaks of her.

“I am grateful for you to witness my mother’s conviction and my father’s charisma, sculpturing my life,” Santana said before the premiere. “They taught me there’s a way to rise high, above nationality or religion and get into a place where we are ready to accept our spirits, capable to create blessing and miracles.”

The post-show concert was just that. The crowd was up and grooving as Santana’s House of Blues band performed, “Oye Como Va,” “Maria Maria,” “Black Magic Woman” and “Smooth.”

The 91-year-old Davis was in the front row, standing for most of the show. Santana approached and offered him a pick to strum the guitar himself. Late in the show, white roses were delivered to Santana and to Blackman Santana.

The guitarist demurred, saying, “These are for Clive,” and presented them to Davis in the crowd. From the artist whose career continues to flower, it was only right.

Manilow turns it

On the topic of those who have collaborated with Clive Davis, Barry Manilow spent his 80th birthday Saturday at work. Manilow was in concert in his hit residency Westgate’s International Theater. “Fanilows” signed three giant greeting cards at the theater entrance.

Otherwise, Manilow didn’t make a big thing of his landmark natal date. His post form Saturday was, “Is There Nothing He Can’t Do,” with a montage of himself playing several instruments and singing on stage over the years. Manilow is still on a pace to overtake Elvis’s record for performances at that theater in September.

The Gallery of Happenstance

We made a totally random, impromptu and unplanned duck-in to an Upper West Side fashion boutique on Saturday. I chatted with the woman whose handmade jewelry was on display and for sale.

The collective conversation somehow turned to Vegas, and the Golden Knights. The designer mentioned the name of William Karlsson.

“Excuse me?” I said. “How do you know William Karlsson?”

“My husband is his agent,” said Virve Deutsch, founder of Affordable Chic boutique and wife of Michael Deutsch, Karlsson’s agent.

Well. The couple are based in New York, but obviously huge fans of Karlsson (who is now the country’s most famous victory-speech deliverer) and the Golden Knights.

I showed Deutsch my column feed and the R-J’s coverage of the team. She smiled and high-fived me. She also sold me a pair of bumble-bee cuff links, which now have a great backstory.

Cool Hang Alert

Returning to Manilow, Joe Melotti’s Mojo Factory plays Maxan Jazz from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday. Melotti is Manilow’s longtime keyboard player. Jeff Zinn on bass, Mikey J. Moreno on drums, Mat Schumer on sax, Jason Levi on trumpet, Brandon Turchiano on trombone. Aces all around. Go to maxanjazz.com for details and reservations.

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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