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Carlos by Carlos

Carlos Santana has a line of women’s shoes. Huh?

That’s the reaction that I had. That’s the reaction that most people have, when I tell them that Carlos Santana has a line of not just shoes, but women’s shoes. Not just women’s shoes, but hot, sexy women’s shoes.

But when you really look at the Carlos by Carlos shoes line, and think about the reasons behind it, you start to see the logic.

Point 1: Deborah Santana (Carlos’ ex-wife) was probably integral in the concept, initiation, and design of the shoes line. She does wear sexy shoes, so it makes sense.

Point 2: Carlos’ and Deborah Santana’s charity — the Milagro Foundation — benefits from the sale of every Carlos by Carlos shoe. So it’s another way to help children around the world. (If there’s anyone more deserving than disadvantaged children, I’ve yet to hear it. Yea for the Santanas!).

Point 3: Carlos Santana is building himself as a brand. Paul Reed Smith Santana Signature guitars. The Mesa Boogie Amps. The Maria Maria restaurants (I’ll be covering those in a future issue of this blog, and on the Web site.) He plans to introduce a line of handbags.

He’s building an empire. He may not think of it as that — but someone is thinking of it that way. And you can’t blame Carlos. After all, he’s put out dozens of albums, and played thousands of live shows. Why not take advantage of his fame — especially if he’s willing to give back to the community, as he obviously is.

So, it makes sense that he introduced the Carlos by Carlos shoes line. And, to help [male] fans of Carlos Santana, I — with the aid of a talented stylist — have crafted the “Guy’s Guide to Buying Carlos by Carlos Shoes.” This article may actually help men entire uncharted territory, and purchase a pair of shoes for their better halves.

Now that’s progress!

Gregg Rolie

Legendary Vocalist/Keyboardist for Santana and Journey

Santana‘s 1999 Grammy phenomenon, Supernatural, has sold in excess of 25 million copies. It launched a rebirth of Carlos Santana‘s career leading to his artist-as-icon status. More recently, he has lent his name to a line of Santana perfumes and colognes, handbags, wine, Carlos by Carlos women’s shoes, and more.

But this legendary status now enjoyed by Carlos wouldn’t exist were it not for the hits still played on radio: “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Oye Va,” et al. Most of these songs were included on Santana’s first two albums, Santana (often called Santana by Santana), and Abraxas.

At the heart of the sound of those classic records are the keyboard playing and vocals of a young musician named Gregg Rolie.

Still a teenager when he and Carlos formed what was at one time titled the “Santana Blues Band” and then finally simply “Santana,” Rolie had a distinctive vocal style has been immortalized on those early albums. And he didn’t stop there. He and band mate Neal Schon went on to form Journey, a band which initially achieved a cult status among musicians, and then became one of the world’s leading pop rock groups.

Rolie wasn’t just a vocalist who accompanied himself on keyboards, though. The powerful simplicity of his organ playing is evident in the iconic chord inversions that introduce Oye Como Va, the unusual note (a 9th) that kicks off his solo in Evil Ways, and many other parts. Playing keyboards is something many people do; really good keyboard players is a much smaller group. Creating keyboard parts (both rhythm and lead) that stick in people’s mind is a rare skill indeed, and one at which Rolie excels.

To this day, Rolie can be heard on both keyboards and vocals in his own group, the Gregg Rolie Band. Touring the country and playing hits both old and new, Rolie and his band (which includes original Santana conguero Mike Carabello) embody much of the original sound of the early Santana songs that still resonate with listeners, 40 years later.

Yamaha SG

One-Time Santana guitar

More than 10 years of photography have etched the image of Carlos Santana and his PRS Signature guitar into the public consciousness. The resurgence of Woodstock footage has served the same purpose for one of Santana‘s original guitars: a Gibson SG.

But the six years that Santana spent playing a much less known guitar — the Yamaha SG — have been, to a great deal, eclipsed. However, that guitar, played by Carlos during a pivotal point in his career, probably had a lot to do with what many people think of as the “Santana Sound.” That is, a round, smooth-yet-beefy-tone, complemented by endless sustain.

Embodying the best of the features of Santana’s two previous guitars, the SG and Les Paul (both by Gibson), the Yamaha SG175 was a thick, woody guitar with double cutaways in the body. Combined with his Mesa Boogie amp, it helped him develop the signature sound for which he is renowned today.

Actually, although the model number was SG175 at first, Carlos and Yamaha together modified it into it’s eventual form, which was called the Yamaha SG2000. That is the guitar heard on the original recording of “Europa,” “Open Invitation,” and other classic Santana songs.

After Carlos had played the guitar for a while, it was “discovered” by other popular guitarists of the day, including Steve CropperKerry Livgren (Kansas), and Mick Jones (Foreigner).

Recently, Yamaha has reissued the model as the SBG2000, as well as several other related models. It’s a fitting tribute to the legendary status of the artist who originally helped the world see the quality of Yamaha guitars.

Drummer Cindy Blackman to Wed Carlos Santana

It must have been a stunned crowd that witnessed Carlos Santana‘s very public proposal to this then girlfriend (now fiancee): drummer Cindy Blackman. Obviously a lot more than that audience bargained for In Tinsley, Park, Illinois, on the July 9, 2010 show of the Universal Tone Tour.

Blackman, although primarily a vetted jazz percussionist, is possibly best known for her 11-year stint with Lenny Kravitz. As such, she showed she was a master of groove as well as swing. This may be the general public’s introduction to the groundbreaking drummer, but in the jazz scene, especially, she has long been a fixture.

And with numerous albums under her belt, she can claim status as a composer as well.

Her gig with Santana‘s band adds Latin rock music to her resume, and seems to be just another step in Blackman’s self-proclaimed goal of virtuosity. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Samba Pa Ti: Santana’s Classic Instrumental

Before 1999’s Supernatural, and Carlos Santana’s unprecedented career revival, before the collaborations with hit artists like Chad KroegerRob Thomas and Michelle Branch, before “Santana” became a worldwide brand name, there was just the music.

And while Europa may be Santana’s best-known instrumental song, Samba Pa Ti is such a classic example of raw melodic power that it stands on its own as one of Carlos’ most beautiful pieces of music.

Check out the historychord progression, and recording here. Enjoy!