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Sunday, 13 August 2017 17:40

Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia

The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet. The act that has graced the stages with the most famous performers at Woodstock has come to Ravinia in Highland Park for yet another incredible performance. The oldest outdoor venue in America was the setting for two sold out nights. Santana graced the stage and, by night’s end, everyone was completely blown away.

A zero-humidity night with slight breezes made for the perfect setting for an outdoor concert. People from all walks of life entered the manicured grounds at Ravinia for the one band show. Dressed to impress, concert goers were seen dancing salsa-style to the rhythmic sounds of a Latin influenced band. It was just amazing.

Opening the night with “O Paradiso” was a great way to start the evening. The mood had been set. The smooth guitars over the Latin percussion made feet move and caused hips to shake throughout the entire evening. Carlos Santana had taken charge and he wasn’t leaving without impressing each soul that watched and listened to his band in awe.

“Are You Ready” kept the musical train rolling. As the crowd clapped their hands and stomped their feet, the music clearly ran deep into each fan. The music was not only being heard, it was being felt. Ray Greene was the vocalist. Greene took the songs and presenting them with his incredible voice that sounded as if it was handed down from the heavens.

The night kept going with “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round”. This Deon Jackson cover was a perfect selection for the evening. The opening guitar riffs combined with the vibra-slap kept the audience’s attention and the adrenaline levels high.

“Maria Maria”, “Foo Foo” and “Corazon Espinado” were amongst the next selections played. The grace and style of the band that was on stage was incredible. The rhythm section was spot on never missing a beat. The combination of an incredible bass player (Benny Reitveld), drummer (Cindy Blackman Santana), and Latin percussionist (Karl Perazzo and Paoli Mejias) were the underlayment for a fantastic evening. Carlos held notes so long that it seemed like they would never end and no one wanted them too. He followed up with fast-paced guitar runs and had a sweet guitar tone from his Paul Reed Smith.

“Jingo” helped to keep people moving to the music. Many attendees couldn’t stop dancing in the lawn and pavilion. It was so powerful you could feel it in the ground. The band was so on fire that nothing could stop it.

When “Evil Ways” began the place went wild. A young lady started grinning from ear to ear as she began to dance. Within the first few seconds the joy went right to her face as she proclaimed, “That’s my song!” David K. Matthews was filling all the gaps from behind his keyboards. His Hammond organ was pumping throughout the evening as he screamed on the keys.
The night was also filled with songs that other songwriters wrote. “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder and “Troubled Man” by Marvin Gaye were superb choices for this band to tackle. The music was so packed with energy and the sound was clean.

A highlight for the night was “Mona Lisa”. The melody within the guitar was nothing less than ear candy that dripped from Carlos’ strings. The canvas was being painted for the vocalist to sing about an amazing woman worthy of her own song. Latin music was in the air and young lovers were moving to the groove. Tommy Anthony was the backup guitarist and held his own.
A Santana show would not be complete without the Tito Puente song, “Oye Como Va”. The crowd was at their feet singing with every note. There couldn’t be a better way to say, “How’s it going?” The song ended and the band exited the stage for a short period, but they weren’t done yet.

The crowd cheered, clapped their hands, and stomped their feet to bring out an incredible guitarist once more. There was no way he could leave yet. After a few minutes, the video screens started showing clips of people sliding in the mud from the 1969 concert Woodstock. The drums kicked in to begin “Soul Sacrifice”. The tribal rhythm was just the start of the encore.
His wife, Cindy, was a powerhouse drummer. Her work was a driving force and during her solo she proved she could lock horns with anyone else behind a kit. When the song finished Carlos gave props to her amazing ability stating, “That’s the sound of a woman kicking a man’s ass. Spiritually speaking.”

“Smooth”, “Love, Peace, & Happiness” and “The Highest Good” finished out the evening. The lights came on and people started making their way out of the concert venue even though nobody wanted to leave yet. People continued to cheer and sing. The crowd was nearly delirious from an evening of musical greatness and fun.

Highland Park’s Ravinia is the place to be in the summer months. The acts that grace their stages have been superior to a lot of other venues. Musical acts are a dime a dozen, but great bands like Santana really rise to the top in talent. They provide the music to which people love to dance. They put a smile on your face. In short, Santana is a super group on every level.

 

Published in In Concert

Santana’s Corazón Tour blew through Chicago as quickly as a summer storm. But for two all-too-brief nights, Santana lit up the Pavilion stage at Ravinia to a sold out crowd of dancing, drinking, smoking, nostalgic concert-goers.

 

For many in the audience, Ravinia was the perfect venue, paying homage to their first time seeing Santana play Woodstock in 1969. Baby boomers swayed and rhumbaed in any space they could find amidst the sold out crowd, unashamed to don twinkling cowboy hats, smoke a joint, and down a glass of cheap merlot. They sang every lyric, grabbed any passerby to salsa with, and threw peace signs to the friendly Ravinia security guards. On the other end of the audience spectrum were young millennials who were introduced to Santana during his resurgence to popularity in the late 1990s, most likely with Santana’s 1999 album Supernatural that included such #TBT favorites as Smooth: https://youtu.be/6Whgn_iE5uc and one of my personal favorite songs, Maria Maria: https://youtu.be/nPLV7lGbmT4. There was not a single person seated in the Pavilion or on the lawn when Maria Maria played. People of every age, race, and gender danced together to the sounds of the guitar, played by the living legend, Carlos Santana.

 

In the unlikely event you have lived under a rock for the past few decades, Santana first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana. The Mexican-American musician pioneered the unique blend of rock and Latin American music that continues to rocks heads, and hips, to this day. He has won 3 Latin Grammy Awards and 10 Grammy Awards, eight alone at the 42nd annual Grammys in 2000. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time, keeping company with other greats such as Keith Richards, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix. Santana’s latest album, Corazón, proves that he can still throw down with the best of them in the biz and was born to play the guitar. Ravinia audiences were also treated to a special family event when Santana’s son, Salvador Santana, took the stage to play a brief set, proving that talent and dedication to craft runs in the family.

 

 

Ravinia and Santana to together like salt and margaritas. The cool summer night perfectly complimented the cool blend of guitar, timbales and congas. The next time Santana blows through Chicago don’t miss your chance to see him live, and be sure to give the man your heart, make it real or else forget about it.

Published in In Concert

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