The unshakably spiritual Carlos Santana is back at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Wednesday night. His residency, formally titled, “An Intimate Evening with Santana: Greatest Hits Live!” runs on select nights through Feb. 2.
Backed by his wife, the powerhouse drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, the concert remains a soaring trip through time guided by Santana’s readily recognizable hits.
But the guitar great’s mission is to make each show a singular event.
“Our motto is to ignite and and unite, show a a lot of energy, hope and courage,” Santana said. “When you hear us do ‘Black Magic Woman’ onstage today, you will understand why it worked in 1970, why it works now and why it will work 50 years from now. We keep it fresh. We do not regurgitate nostalgia.”
“The only thing people remember from a concert is how you make them feel, and we want them to feel good.”
Both Santanas are deep into new solo releases. Carlos’ African-inspired “Africa Speaks, The World Listens,” is being recorded at Odds On Studios in Henderson, and at famed producer Rick Rubin’s studio in Malibu, California. The album is about about 60-70 percent finished and spotlights vocalist Concha Buika, who is from Spain and sings in a way that “gives me the chills, every time,” as Santana says. “She sings from her soul.”
Santana’s passion for playing has never abated. He’s forever exploring new sounds.
“I am so excited about this album,” Santana says. “The spirit of this music … I have not been this excited about an album since ‘Abraxas’ (in 1970) and ‘Supernatural’ (1999).”
Cindy Santana’s album, “Power of Peace,” is just about ready for release. She sings on many of the songs, and her cover of “Imagine” has a powerful, Pretenders-like feel.
“I recorded 100 songs,” Cindy Santana says, as if amazed by her own artistic output. “The hard part has been deciding which songs make the album.”
”I should just release all of them and say to the public, ‘You decide.’ “
Carlos Santana was reminded of some recent comments by John Fogerty, during his headlining run at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. Fogerty answered a question about a possible collaboration by saying, “I would love that.”
Santana smiled at that, and said, “Yeah! Well, in the next 10 seconds, if he’s around, we’ll do it!”
He elaborated, “What I tell other artists, with respect and honor, is I don’t want to play your music or my music. No Santana. No Creedence Clearwater. I only want to create brand-new music, a whole new thing, together. That is my criteria.”
Shift change for Shunock
The Space founder and Vegas Golden Knights on-ice emcee Mark Shunock, who played Lonny in “Rock of Ages” and is a host of “Magic Mike Live” at Hard Rock Hotel, has landed another choice role. He’s emceeing the NHL All-Star Game Skills Competition in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, and is the arena emcee for the game on Sunday.
Both events are to be telecast national TV, the skills competition at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network, the All-Star Game at 12:30 p.m. on NBC.
League officials sought Shunock for his “Rock of Ages” role, having no idea he was the host for the Golden Knights. Fortuitously Shunock is the rare stage actor who can actually ice skate, a talent he refined during his days as a minor-league goalie in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“So, I’ll be skating around with a mic during the skills competition, asking players what’s going on, how they’re feeling,” says Shunock, on a hot streak even on the ice in Las Vegas. “It’s an incredible honor. To be involved in the NHL at this level is a dream come true.”
Diamond news shakes King
Percussionist King Errisson, who has a home in Las Vegas, has backed Neil Diamond for most of Diamond’s legendary music career. On Tuesday, Diamond announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had retired from performing, effective immediately.
Even before his diagnosis, Diamond had no plans to play Vegas again. His last show in town was at Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2015. Diamond’s last live performance was at the Forum in Los Angeles on Sept. 12.
In a text statement, Errisson, who is tending to the resort he owns in his native Bahamas, said, “Neil I had the best 45 years of making beautiful music. What a great and pleasant ride. I was living the dream, and am still not awake yet. These are some sad times in my world right now. I am heartbroken over my good friend.”
Errisson continues to perform as a solo artist, and released his autobiography, “My My Life, My Loves,” in 2016.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.