Santana Appears on the NBC Today Show in 2002 (We were there)

I thought my readers would like to see one of my first Web pages about Santana from 2002. I barely knew anything about creating HTML in those days. I wrote this report in Microsoft Word hoping to publish it as HTML output somewhere? I didn’t have my own Web site twelve years ago.

I was fortunate to be a member of the Moonflower Cafe (a Santana Fan Bulletin Board) that was administered by Gilberto Vera. It just so happens that Gil is back once more in that same primary role after a hiatus. Gil took my original Word/HTML document and dressed it up for me on the Moonflower Cafe as an HTML page. That link is here. I appreciate to this day that he still has that Web link and page displaying. Thank you Gil, please check your PayPal 😉

I thought it might be fun to see the content again as a WordPress blog post in 2014.

Enjoy all! Viva Gil and Viva Santana!

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October 22nd, 2002

Santana with Special Guests, Michelle Branch and the Product G&B

Rocktober Concert Series, sponsored by NBC Today Show and Westwood One Studios

30 Rockefeller Plaza, NY City, N.Y.

Never in our wildest dreams did my wife and I realize when our alarm went off at 3:00 am, what a spontaneous day lie ahead of us in New York City. Witnessing Santana perform live has become a joyous celebration for our souls and spirit. The early morning concert allowed us to get closer to the oneness Carlos and his band magically creates in our loving hearts.

The drive from New Haven, CT to New York City proved to be its usual white knuckle experience even in the early morning hours. We were fortunate to arrive just ahead of the morning Manhattan commute. We quickly located a parking garage on 50th and Lexington Avenue, at the Waldorf Astoria, where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are held every year. Our walk to 30 Rockefeller Plaza at West 49th Street ended up being just a few blocks. But what a magical walk it became for us.

Just before we reached the Today Show plaza, we were greeted in the darkened shadows of early morning by the searing guitar opening to the Supernatural selection, “(Da Le)  Yaleo”. As the notes flowed from Carlos’s guitar, the band joined flight. I don’t think my wife and I will ever forget that moment in time. The Santana sound bounced off the buildings right into our hearts. It was very exciting to be greeted by surprise like this as we scrambled to discover the best viewing spot.

We ran to the back of the raised platform as the Santana band worked its groove. My wife and I were redirected by building security to use the West 48th Street entrance. We entered the Today Show Plaza on West 48th Street maneuvering through a small group of people. We claimed our spot at the front of the railed fence where we stood for the next three hours.

Carlos was wearing a navy blue Olympics 2000 jacket with a blue knit cap and single red stripe. He cranked away on the opening chorus of “(Da Le) Yaleo”. The rest of the band was bundled up in winter coats as it was a cold but manageable 41 degrees. Thankfully, the flood lights were raised high in front of where we were standing so we could see everyone in the band clearly as we danced happily to “(Da Le) Yaleo”. A dream come true unfolded as we observed Santana for FREE in the heart of New York City. I flashed on how it might have been reminiscent of the free concerts Santana played in the 60’s and early 70’s in San Francisco. We were blessed to watch Santana practice as they made refinements to their sound, with Carlos motioning that his acoustic guitar needed to be tuned more closely to the sound he wanted to achieve. The band appeared electrified but very professional about appearing on a national broadcast in front of the Today Show viewing audience.

The sound check allowed us to preview all three songs that would be played for the 8:30 am live broadcast that morning (The Game of Love, Maria, Maria and Yaleo). Michelle Branch looked colder than we were feeling. She was wearing a navy peacoat and a baseball cap pulled down over her ears. She sang “The Game Of Love, a song that has grown appreciably for us. It has been a revelation to see the song mature as it gets more significant airplay, from the MTV video, to the A&E Live Request event, and then broadcast on the MTV TRL show. We enjoyed Michelle’s interaction level with the band, her vocal mixed well with Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas’s voices. I especially enjoyed the interplay between Carlos and Michelle as they collaborate singing and playing off each other. We are eager to purchase The Game of Love CD single with the alternate track when it is released sometime in November.

It was especially rewarding to see Santana play “Maria, Maria with the Product G & B. My wife and I had seen Santana this summer at The Meadows in Hartford, where they played the hit “Maria, Maria” with Tony and Andy trading off lead vocals. As much as we love Tony and Andy’s energy it was even more “On” when presented with the original collaborators, Product G&B on stage. The closeness they share with Carlos adds a unique balance in how the song takes on a life of its own.

The band then went inside the NBC building as daylight began to enter the plaza The NBC Today Show television monitors which encircled the plaza roof tops brought us back to a stark reality as the lead story stated Another shooting in Maryland occurred this morning as we watched in disbelief more senseless brutality of our fellow Americans. The Today Show unfolded as various guests had their time before the cameras, Carol Burnett, Arnold Scwarzenneger, etc.

Then at 8:15 a.m. Katie Couric joined us in the plaza as Santana, Michelle Branch and the Product G&B took the stage. At 8:30 a.m. the Today Show began to run a video clip about Carlos Santana and the recent success of the group. I never tire of seeing clips from Woodstock or Supernatural interspersed. The Santana video added to our excitement as the video’s pace and musical backing were tastefully done.

Photo by Rosemary Jennings

Our excitement for the live concert moment built as Katie Couric spoke with Carlos and Michelle about the making of The Game of Love recording. Katie also commented that the Shaman CD was being released that day, worldwide as Wyclef Jean would say.

Next thing we know the band is playing “The Game of Love” as my wife and I clapped and danced along to the beat of this salsa-like song. Michelle was in even better voice for the broadcast as the sunshine helped bring out the clarity of her voice. Carlos looked truly content as he played his guitar and encouraged us to clap along. It was fascinating to see the city come alive in front of our eyes as early morning darkness gave way to dawn and sunlit building sides stood all around us.

After “The Game of Love ended, the Product G&B took the stage. We just love their energy and enthusiasm. The intersection of hip hop and afro-cuban rhythm gets us moving up and down. Maria, Maria is my favorite hit on Supernatural, a tough choice to make on that megarecording.

Photo by Rosemary Jennings

After the band did a very spirited rendition of “(Da Le) Yaleo” for the plaza crowd, we watched as Carlos stepped off the stage to shake a few hands and we yelled to him, “Carlos”, he graciously smiled and waved back to us as we smiled and waved to him. Then he signed an autograph or two for the front group of fans and exited into the NBC building.

Our morning got more interesting as we were given free tickets see for the Caroline Rhea Show. We learned as we waited in the halls of NBC’s Studio that the special musical guest was going to be Tracy Chapman, so we got to see her and her band perform the song You’re The One from her new CD Let it Rain. We were also given FREE DVD’s of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial 20th Anniversary and the Harry Potter movie . The special guest who was filmed after the 10:00 am daily show taping was the star of Harry Potter who we happened to see as we were getting off the elevator exiting the building. Our final thrill was buying the Shaman CD at HMV Records on 5th Avenue where the cashier informed us that Carlos was her customer on Friday October 18th. I wonder what CDs Carlos purchased that day?, seems we were following in his past footsteps as we walked to our car to drive back to Connecticut. A spiritual and healing day for us as we listened to the Shaman CD all the way home in the car!

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