Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

Maria Maria (Restaurant, not Song)

Carlos has branched out again — this time into the culinary arena. Recently, he launched a “themed” restaurant, called Maria Maria — named after the song from his Supernatural album, of course.

However, if you’re expecting rock star memorabilia, ala Hard Rock Café, you’ll be surprised. The restaurant chain (there are four, so far), is not dominated by Santana, his music, and his equipment; rather, it carries the influence of his aura.

A collaboration between Carlos, accomplished chef Roberto Santibanez, and restaurant producers Dudum Sports and Entertainment, Maria Maria is an upscale restaurant with a blend of traditional Mexican cooking and innovative touches. The décor is luxurious and comfortable at the same time. And the artwork (by some renowned Latin artists) is provocative.

If you have a chance to eat at Maria Maria, give it a shot. Santana aficionado or no, it’s worth the trip!

Carlos Santana’s Gear

Carlos Santana‘s sound is affected by the gear he uses, including his Mesa Boogie Amp (and others), Mu-Tron Wah Wah Pedal, and of course his recognizable Paul Reed Smith Santana Guitars. His history with Paul Reed Smith, especially, is fascinating: a symbiotic relationship that has enhanced both men, while producing a fine series of guitars, including the:

PRS Santana I Guitar
PRS Santana II Guitar
PRS Santana III Guitar
PRS Santana SE Guitar
PRS Santana SE II Guitar

and the latest in the series, the PRS Santana MD Guitar.

Neal Schon

Incredible Melodic Journey

There are a lot of excellent electric guitar players out there. When you narrow the field to guitar players who play parts that you remember long after the song is over, it shrinks noticeably. But at the very pinnacle of that group is this category: players so melodic that every “riff” they play is a hook that sticks with you for a long time.

One of the members of that very small cadre is Neal Schon.

He must have displayed that talent early, because at 15, he had Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana vying to bring him on tour. After a couple of years under the radar in Santana‘s band, Neal broke out on his own to form Journey with Santana band mate Gregg Rolie. It was a momentous career choice.

Beginning with the first note of the first song on the first Journey album, Schon has steadily created a catalog of memorable songs, parts, and solos that is mind-boggling. His unique chordal phrases form the basis of most Journey songs; his lead riffs and solos challenge the vocal lines for sheer melodic power.

For more than 30 years, Schon has built a body of work that is staggering in its sheer volume, not to mention quality. He has contributed to many other projects, and even been in other bands (Bad EnglishHardlineAbraxas Pool, et al), but it is in Journey where his melodic gift is best exemplified.