On Saturday, January 7th Carlos made a surprise guest appearance at what would have been Bill Graham’s 75th Birthday party at the Fillmore in San Francisco. He did more then honor his friend, he jammed with just about everyone on the bill and even played a couple of songs with Santana keyboardist, Chester Thompson.
The evening opened with Bob Weir’s Rat Dog playing a solid set of Grateful Dead classics. From there, Jackson Browne took the stage and was soon joined by Bonnie Raitt for a beautiful rendition of “I Am a Patriot”. Later in Jackson’s set, Carlos & Karl Perazzo joined him on “The Next Voice You Hear”. Carlos played elegantly, intertwining leads and fills with the 8 piece gospel choir called “The Levite Camp”, that sang with Jackson. After a quick set change, Carlos joined Mickey Hart and 75 percussion players for a very percussive version of “Jingo”. Amongst the percussion players were Karl Perazzo, David & Alex Graham, Kitaro, Rebeca Mauleon-Santana and some of the Santana office staff.
When the percussionist left the stage, Carlos and Chester Thompson were introduced by David & Alex Graham. Carlos & CT honored Bill with a heart felt “I Love You Much Too Much”. This was Bill’s favorite Santana song. As the ballad ended they jammed into “Venus/ Upper Egypt” as “Mean” Willie Green and some of the Neville Brothers Band joined them for the tune.
After a few words from Bill’s friends, The Neville Brothers took the stage and played a full show with everyone joining them individually and for an all-star jam in the encore. Carlos joined them early in their set on “Fever” and “Charlie” and then in the final jam that included “Iko Iko” -> “Jambalaya” -> “Amazing Grace” -> “One Love / People Ready”. Just when everyone thought the night was over, Carlos and Chester jumped into “Right on Be Free” and the Fillmore was rockin’. The encores featured the Neville Brothers, Carlos, Chester, Bob Weir, Jackson Browne, Mickey Hart, Bonnie Raitt and The Levite Camp. It was a great birthday celebration! Bill would have approved.