About 20 miles north of San Francisco, tucked away on a desolate street, in an unassuming building of the burgeoning community of San Rafael sits the Santana compound. There's no sign, no noise, and no people gathered round. The only indication that anything is going on are the fancy cars that rest out front.
Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and up through the winding hills of Northern California, I'm trying to wrap my head around what it would be like to grow up the son of arguably the most significant, well-known, and perhaps the most successful guitarist alive. Such accolades are impossible to quantify and really are of little importance; the point is that being the son of 10-time Grammy winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Carlos Santana must surely have an impact few of us, if any, could ever imagine. As we sit at the long wooden table in the conference room of the compound, Salvador Santana, son of the one-and-only Carlos Santana, speaks with a confident ease, "It's always been difficult for me to really grasp the whole concept of having the last name of someone famous and having pressure put on me because I'm fourth, or maybe even fifth-generation musician and artist." You will surely notice that Salvador didn't say, "...pressure put on me because I'm Carlos Santana's son" – because it's more than that, and it's not just the men. Deborah Santana, Salvador's mom, is an acclaimed writer and poet who recently published her first book. His sisters, one of whom attends the San Francisco School for the Arts, where Sal went, both show early signs of that Santana artistic and athletic ability, and then there are the grandparents. On mom's side, we have Saunders King - the tenor and guitar legend who helped pave the way for the West Coast blues scene of the '40s. And on Dad's side: Jose Santana - a Mexican violinist and mariachi bandleader.
You see, the Santanas are not like the rest of us; or maybe they are and we just haven't found what it is we are supposed to be doing. Most of us don't ever really find what we were put on this planet to do. For the most part, we just do the best we can and struggle through our existence, but not the Santanas, not Salvador. At just 22 years of age, Salvador plays keys, sings, and leads his own group: Salvador Santana Band. He's toured and performed for massive crowds with his father's internationally-renowned group, rubbed elbows with super stars, and he speaks of "saving extra change for investments and stuff."
Salvador & Kayceman :: 9.13.05 :: San Raphael, CA
Spending time with Salvador, one is quickly taken by his polite, confident-yet-humble nature. He carries himself with an intrepid dignity. He speaks slowly and considers his words before blurting them out. The Salvador Santana Band came together in 2004 as Sal began to find like-minded musicians around his Bay Area home and school. In describing his music, Sal says, "It's a combination; I call it a new-blend. What I mean by that is... I take the best of all that I've been exposed to - jazz, blues, rock and roll, reggae, some hip-hop and some rap, and Latin – like Salsa. If I were a chef, I'm not trying to take anyone else's recipes; I'm just taking everybody else's spices that they've used over the years and trying to create my own recipe, my own dish, so that people can feed off it." This "new-blend" can be heard on the band's five-song demo. As is the nature of a "demo," it's not fully fleshed out, not fully realized, but for a kid in his early twenties who just put out his first recording, it shows a great deal of promise.