Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Like the first time, every time

Guitar virtuoso and 1960s rock legend Carlos Santana, who makes his first appearance in Taiwan on Wednesday, says he and his band strive to make every show feel like the ‘first time’

By David Chen  /  Staff Reporter

Recent shots of Santana on tour.

Photo by Gary Rashid, Courtesy of Santana/DaDa Arts

Next week is an exciting time for classic rock fans in Taiwan, as Taipei prepares to host debut appearances from two enduring legends: Bob Dylan, who plays on April 3, and guitarist Carlos Santana, who appears at the Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall (台北世界貿易中心南港展覽館) on Wednesday.

Santana, 63, is bringing an 11-piece band for his concert in Taipei, which will conclude a monthlong tour of Asia and Australia. Fans can expect to hear both classics and new songs from the Mexican American guitar virtuoso, who came of age in San Francisco’s rock scene in the 1960s and continues to be known for putting on epic jam-rock concerts.

Though he hasn’t strayed far from the formula that brought him success — recasting pop material into a unique blend of rock, Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz grooves — Santana’s albums of recent years have aimed more directly for commercial appeal. He enjoyed multi-platinum, Grammy-winning success for his 1999 album Supernatural, which boasted songwriting collaborations with big-name pop artists of the day such as Dave Matthews and Lauryn Hill.

Santana’s newest album, Guitar Heaven (2010), was produced in a similar mold, with appearances by Joe Cocker, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Yo-Yo Ma (馬友友). But instead of original songs, the material is made up of familiar rock staples such as Little Wing, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Riders on the Storm.

Santana spoke to the Taipei Times and its sister paper the Liberty Times in an interview last week while on tour in Australia. On the phone, he spoke with a hippie-ish charm and enthusiasm on topics ranging from his new album to how the music scene has changed since the 1960s, and how his band strives to make every show feel like a “first French kiss.”

Performance Notes:

What: Santana, live in concert

When: Wednesday at 8pm

Where: Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall (台北世界貿易中心南港展覽館), 1 Jingmao 2nd Rd, Taipei City (台北市經貿二路1號)

Admission: NT$1,600 to NT$8,600, tickets available through ERA ticketing outlets or online through or at 7-Eleven

ibon kiosks

On the Net: and

Taipei Times: You’ve worked with an endless list of artists that includes Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill and Eric Clapton. What have been your most memorable collaborations and why?

Carlos Santana: I would say Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Why? Because they are the Stravinskys, the Picassos, and the Leonardo Da Vincis [of today].

TT: What was the inspiration behind Guitar Heaven and how did you choose the songs for the album?

CS: Well, this was an idea, it was put forward by Clive Davis [the album’s producer] and I was very reluctant at first. I was very scared to go out because when I play songs — all of those songs — as I’ve said before, they’re like females, Mona Lisas. Each one is an icon. I wasn’t afraid to take on one, but to take on 14 at the same time was a little daunting. But once I put the fear aside, and this is something I recommend to anyone and everyone: Fun is getting past the fear.

TT: Was there anything specific you did to get past that fear? Each song seems like a different animal.

CS: Well, yes, I think that the main thing that I work on, or at least that I focus and concentrate on is the groove. Because, like Michael Jackson, to me, it’s important that the females dance and that the tempo has to be correct, the mood has to be right and the feel has to be sensational. So, the main thing that I changed in all of those songs was the bed. I put in a different bed and feel and groove. Sunshine of Your Love, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Back in Black — they all have a 2011 kind of groove, you know. There’s grooves for 1969 and there’s grooves for 1967, 1968.

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