Written by Brad
This past Saturday Donna and I attended a concert in Hershey to see Santana. I was very anxious to see Carlos Santana, someone who is on the Mount Rushmore of guitar players, at least in my opinion, and someone neither of us had ever seen. The 10-time Grammy winner and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1998 did not disappoint.
With temperatures in the 90s, it was a hot one, like 7 inches from the midday sun. But it would only get hotter as Carlos entered the stage, to the delight of everyone in attendance, wearing bright yellow and toting his trademark Santana-model Gibson guitar.
The band came out blazing, launching into the set with its unique blend of rock and Latin American rhythms, featuring guitar riffs, congas and other percussion reverberating through the stadium. Classic songs like Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va and the awe-inspiring Europa (Earth’s Cry/Heaven’s Smile) set the tone for the evening early.
Carlos showed amazing energy for a 75-year old who had open-heart surgery last December and someone who had to cancel 6 shows after collapsing during a show July 8. Trust me, he can still shred with the best of them. He was bending strings and picking like a man half his age, with very little or no use of effects pedals.
About halfway through the show, Carlos told a story of reaching out to Chris Stapleton to inquire about collaborating on a song, and he remarked he was surprised when Stapleton returned his call; like someone wouldn’t jump at the chance to work with Carlos Santana! When Stapleton asked what kind of song Carlos wanted, he replied “mystical medicine music to heal a twisted, crooked world”. The result is an enchanting song titled Peace on Earth/Joy.
This is when the concert and music I had so dearly wanted to embrace became much more than listening to a guitar hero. It became a magical, beautiful reminder of what life’s possibilities are. Carlos preached to us, with guitar and voice, urging us to be compassionate, merciful and unite as one. He urged us to be aware of our “avalanche of abundance” and to reach out to our brothers and sisters across the globe and believe in the capacity to do the impossible.
Long after the familiar refrains of Smooth or Maria Maria will fade from our memory, we will both carry with us the message of love, compassion and unity that came from this unexpected source; a guitar legend and pioneer who launched his meteoric career at Woodstock and now has fused his spiritualty with his unique style.
We walked out of HersheyPark Stadium not only energized by the amazing music of Carlos and his band (his wife Cindy had the most amazing drum solo I’ve ever seen), but filled with joy and the desire to be a force to spread unity and harmony. May we all adopt Carlos Santana’s divine intentions and let the universe surround you with love.