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  • Soundz of Santana will electrify the Summer Under The Sails stage on June 27

    by Haley Stevenson – Marketing and Communications Intern | Jun 16, 2018

    Soundz of Santana at Summer Under the Sails 2017

    The piercing, ethereal electric guitar of Carlos Santana over an irresistible Latin conga beat has made the group Santana a hit-making classic-rock favorite, with fans spanning the decades from the late ‘60s up through today.

    Fans who want to hear Santana’s music performed live in a relaxed setting are in for a real treat: Soundz of Santana, a tribute band that plays the songs of the original, will perform June 27 outside the Eiteljorg Museum. Best of all, the concert at 6 p.m. is free, part of the museum’s Summer Under The Sails concert series. (In the case of inclement weather, the show will take place inside.)

    With members originally from East Chicago, Ind., Soundz of Santana has its own devoted listeners who enjoy hearing the striking recreations of Carlos Santana’s unforgettable tunes. Soundz of Santana has performed each year at the Eiteljorg Museum’s Summer Under the Sails since the first season, 2015.

    Band members include Xavier Villarreal on congas, Joe “Baby” Valdez on bass guitar, Joe Bienevedez on keyboard, Dave Sanchez on lead guitar and Jose Juan Manchaca on drums.  Villareal took time to chat with the Eiteljorg Blog and share his thoughts about his band, the music of Carlos Santana that inspires him and his bandmates and what brings them back to the Eiteljorg.

    Your band has been playing at The Sails every summer since it began—what makes you so loyal, and keeps you coming back?

    “It’s the people. They make us feel so welcome… If we see one person smile, it’s all worthwhile. The passion and music make it all feel worthwhile. I think we pleased everybody.”

    What was it like to play for such a big crowd last year?

    “What a great crowd it was, even though it was raining! It was awesome. The crowd was so accepting, and they really, really enjoyed the music. Some were dancing — they had a blast. They fuel a fire in us.”

    Carlos Santana as a guitarist is known for blending Afro-Cuban rhythms with melodies and guitar influenced Latin jazz.  What aspects of Carlos Santana’s music do the musicians of Soundz of Santana work hard to replicate? 

    “Growing up in a predominantly Latin community, it seems fitting to play that out. With Santana, every song is gold. For example, a salsa player in Puerto Rican music does pretty much the same thing in every song, but in Santana’s music, all the guys love playing that uniqueness, and that’s what makes it exciting… Do you ever feel so passionate about something, you can’t get enough of it? That’s what this music is to us.

    Not too many people could walk in our shoes. I don’t care how many times I hear “Black Magic Woman,” I hear it differently every time. I never get bored of it.”

    The Eiteljorg is a museum of Native Americans and the West, with a strong emphasis on the Southwestern U.S.  From the musicians’ perspective, what is it like to play Carlos Santana’s music at this venue with the Eiteljorg building in the background?

    “As far as I could tell from reading his autobiography, . . . .  (Carlos Santana) believes that we are all one, and we all believe that too. I think we have the same values, the same wants. The band wants to make music and . . . spread Santana’s message. If we are a tribute band, we tribute his music and his message. He brought everybody together. Internationally, nationally. . . . . If anybody tells you you’ve got to be Latin to play Latin music, that’s a lie. What it boils down to, is that music is universal.”

    Is there anything you want people to know about the band?

    “We don’t do this for notoriety, to tell you the truth. We don’t do this for money. We just do it for the love of the music. We’ve accepted who we are, we’re all in this together. I recently found out that I’m 49 percent Native American, I took a DNA test. There’s a new meaning for me here now. We keep it true, real — not just the Santana way, but our way.”