Road Blog (9/11/08) – A Day With Carlos

Perhaps there is no such thing as a typical day with Carlos Santana on the road because something unusual and unanticipated almost always seems to occur. And there’s simply no predicting what kind of folks he’ll encounter and what will transpire in these usually brief and sometimes memorable meetings.

Unlike many other celebrities, Carlos refuses to become a recluse on the road in order to avoid the hoards of fans and well wishers, each of whom invariably wants an autograph, a photo with him, or a few minutes to tell him how much they enjoy his music and/or how affected they were by one particular concert. “Carlos, I saw you in Des Moines in 1972 and you were great. I was the one wearing the green and red t-shirt in the front row. Do you remember me?”

Carlos likes to take advantage of being out in the world getting a chance to see the sights and feel the special vibe that every city has. In the process he seems to add to his store of memorable experiences in just about every city. I recall that time in Philadelphia maybe twelve or so years ago when he and I were just strolling about getting a little fresh air and exercise when a young man passed us and then did a double take and ran up to Carlos. “Tana, this ain’t you, is it Tana? Tana, how you doing? Are you really Tana?”

Or there was the shop owner in Copenhagen a few years ago who had some great Miles Davis photos in the window. As Carlos went inside to check them out, the owner said,” Aren’t you somebody? Carlos somebody, I think.”

And I shouldn’t forget the African doorman for the Paris hotel who was so excited as he told Carlos about listening to his music in his small village in the Cameroons. Carlos in his usual gracious fashion, thanked the man for his compliments and wished him well but before he could continue on his way, the doorman said,”I have seven children and each one was conceived with your music in the background”.
“Well, thank you again,” said Carlos as he tried to make a graceful exit but the doorman persisted:” Let’s see, my first daughter came from “Europa” and my first son came from…..” Fearing the worst from this TMI onslaught, Carlos made it to the street and commented,” Well, at least he’s not asking for child support”.

Today in an overcast early-autumn Edmonton, Canada, we made a quick visit to a nearby mall and then had lunch at an excellent restaurant next to our hotel. The people were all quite friendly and respectful of his privacy acknowledging him with a subdued “Hi Carlos”.

But it’s still early so who knows what the rest of the day will yield. In a few hours Carlos will go the evening’s venue early to work on his sound. Even though the previous concert in Vancouver was utterly magnificent, something about his sound bothered him so he’ll get this worked out today. That’s the way Carlos is.

And later…who knows.

Hal Miller
Edmonton, Canada