San Francisco, CA
Monday December 31, 1973
97 minutes
Exact Set List
Going Home/A-1 Funk/Every Step Of The Way - Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen - Oye Como Va - Just In Time To See The Sun - Bambele (1) - Um-um-um - Batucada - Xibaba (She-Ba-Ba) - Stone Flower - Castillos De Arena (Sand Castle) - ? - Incident At Neshabur - When I Look Into Your Eyes - Se A Cabo
(1) "Viva Santana!" in August 1988 on 3LP(foc) (Col: USA 44344, Netherlands 462500 1)
(1) "Viva Santana!" on October 4, 1988 on 2CD (Col: USA C2K 44344, Austria 462500 2, Japan 46DP 5334~5)
Quote from Jim Deplitch (December 31, 2003)
It was Thirty Years Ago Today…. December 31, 1973. Dave the drummer and I, a 16-year-old bass player, had tickets to see Santana at Winterland in San Francisco, on New Year’s Eve 1973. Transportation was a problem as neither one of us had access to a car, or the money to take the bus. Under a cold and cloudy sky, we had about a forty-mile journey from Palo Alto north to San Francisco, so we decided to hitchhike up HWY 101. Once we got to the freeway ramp, as soon as we stuck out our thumbs it started raining. Even with fair skies, San Francisco can feel like one of the coldest places on earth this time of year. Having to hitch a ride home after the show wouldn’t be a picnic either. But hey, I was about to see Santana for the first time, and I wasn’t gonna let a little rain stop me. Just before we got thoroughly soaked, this multi-colored VW van pulled over, driven by a guy that reminded me of Cat Stevens. I think he called himself “Keefer.” He explained that he lived in San Francisco, and offered to take us right to Winterland. Wow, what a break! As we approached the city, the rain was really coming down. Keefer suggested that if we had trouble getting a ride after the show, that we could call him later and he'd pick us up. What a guy!! (Some people were so nice back then) At Winterland: Several bands were on the slate, so I’ll fast-forward past the forgettable opening acts, with the exception of Journey, who was scheduled to go on just before Santana. Before this night, the band called “Journey’” was completely unknown to me. Some of the locals gave us a rundown, explaining that Journey included former members of Santana and that this was their first live performance. People were speculating what kind of music Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie was going to come out with. Journey’s debut had hints of the old Santana band sound without the percussion. Neal and Gregg looked like they had something to prove and made an impact with the crowd right away. My first impression of Neal Schon was that he came across as like an egotistical Carlos Santana impersonator, based on his playing style and facial expressions. I remember that Dave and I agreed that Journey was a hot act and would be worth seeing again. The crowd was getting noticeably toasted by this time, offering Journey loud intoxicated cheers of approval. After Journey finished, there was a rumor going around that Schon and Rolie would appear with Santana at the end of the night to do “Song of the Wind”. Ironically, minutes later, “Song of the Wind” began playing over the PA as a clue that Santana would soon be taking the stage. It sounded so good through the sound system, and I started getting excited, realizing that Carlos would be playing live, right in front of me. The wait was over, Winterland went completely dark, and the pleasant fragrance of incense cut through the smoky air. From the right side of the stage, out of the shadows, appeared a smiling Carlos wearing all white with his hair cut short. When the spotlight found him, the finish of his red and orange sunburst Les Paul gleamed and looked ready to take off. This was a beautiful sight. Carlos checked his volume knob, and then played a few quick bursts of melodic notes, using his trademark tone. The adrenaline hit! There was no doubt that I was in the presence of greatness. Next, Carlos requested a moment of silence for prayer. This felt like an awkward moment as a few people refused to quiet down. Not respecting his wishes seemed so rude. Slowly, the dynamics of the music built with intensity, and the band already sounded far sophisticated above the previous acts. I was on sensory overload panning across the stage, seeing Carlos, Mike Shrieve, Doug Rauch, Armondo Perraza, Chepito, Tom Coster, etc, realizing that, wow, what a lineup they have! Focusing on Carlos, his guitar intensity and tone was incredible. It was loud enough to be heard over the band, but melodic to the ear. His lead passages were like beams from heaven, piercing and soaring through the clouds of the Winterland smoke. As a bass player, I was also glued to watching Doug Rauch, knowing that he had a style and presence that completely inspired me. I remember, however, feeling a little saddened not hearing Gregg Rolie’s voice on “Black Magic Woman” and “Time to See the Sun.” As the set progressed, the crowd became more and more obnoxious as loud demands for “ Evil Ways” and the blowing of noisy air horns escalated to a major distraction. It became clear that Dave and I were in the minority for cheering Carlos’ new material and welcoming his message of spirituality. The majority of the audience was indulging in drugs, alcohol, cultural intolerance, and resistance to enlightenment. Well into the set, Carlos paused to address the crowd and said something about sensing all the pain in the audience, and that he would cry for them. He even said he’d “play all night if you want me to.” I was thoroughly impressed by Santana’s courage and compassion, the way he tried to reach a hostile crowd that was not open to receiving his words of kindness. The situation got uglier, as a few fights broke out close to where we were standing. After Santana played their last song and left the stage, Dave and I worked our way over to the nearest exit. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember them doing an encore. The rumored reunion of Carlos, Gregg, and Neal was obviously not going to happen and at this point of the night, I was more concerned about getting out of there safely. Strangely, I don’t remember the New Year being welcomed in or at what part of the show that it happened. It was now 1974, the house lights are on, and Santana is gone. Heading out the door with the crowd into the cold and damp San Francisco night air, I was pre-occupied with getting ourselves back to a freeway ramp-heading south. While glancing toward the traffic on Geary Street, someone yelled from a passing car, “How was Carlos?” and Dave joyously replied “Beautiful, man!” Although I was feeling unsafe, this helped me put things back in perspective. Carlos WAS incredible, and we got to see him! Before this night, I had just recently started getting into his music, and after this night, Carlos was a hero to me as a person, musician and gave me total inspiration I would take from that night forward. Walking south on Geary Street, the reality hit that we had a ways to go and would probably freeze our butts before reaching the 101-freeway entrance toward San Jose. The city’s thick fog and unfriendly streets reinforced that we were a long way from Palo Alto. It was time to find a phone booth and get a hold of the “Cat Steven’s guy” who dropped us off. We frantically rifled our pockets for his number, found it, and made the call. True to his word, Keefer was a welcome sight when he eventually showed up in his VW van. He invited to take us to a local neighborhood coffee shop that was crowded with colorful crazy people hanging out after hours. The San Francisco glitter thing was happening in those days and this restaurant was quite a stage for costumes. Over coffee and French fries, we finally had an opportunity to relax and inform Keefer about what we had just experienced at Winterland. We were relieved when our generous host suggested we sleep “where-ever you can find a spot” at his apartment. Even better, he offered to give us a ride back to Palo Alto the next day! I was thinking that night that God was truly looking out for us. Winding through the dark San Francisco neighborhoods, Dave and I entered the next chapter of weirdness as Keefer parked along side a run down Victorian apartment building that he called home. Beginning with the lobby area, this looked like something you’d associate with the Grateful Dead’s Mars Hotel. We were treated to walls painted different fluorescent colors, strange murals of giant human figures and brightly painted utility pipes running along the ceiling and walls. Thoroughly cold and exhausted, we climbed up an Alfred Hitchcock –looking staircase, entered an apartment, side stepped two people having sex on the floor, continued down a dark hallway, and entered another dimly lit room with old floor lamps and some furniture. In the background, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was playing on the radio. With the sofa already occupied, I sat awake, sitting up in a stuffed chair with one eye open. I was still reminiscing about the Santana concert while looking out the window at the sky getting lighter over the rooftops. I previously thought the Height-Ashbury psychedelic thing was dying out, but it still seemed alive and well on January 1st of 1974. The next morning, Keefer dropped me off at my doorstep. I returned to the familiar comforts of my bedroom, played Caranvanserai on the turntable, practiced my bass and wrote about what I’d just experienced. A few days later, I found Keefer’s wrinkled up phone number in my jacket and dialed his number to say “thanks” again. His phone was disconnected. This was a strange and surreal experience, and maybe a fitting way to begin my years of being a Santana fan. God truly watches out for us.
Quote from Jim Deplitch (January 12, 2004)
I was (am) so excited, that while I was listening to the CDs for the 1st time through the stereo, I telephoned my eighty year-old mother in California and said, "Hey Mom, remember that great Santana concert I went to thirty years ago on New Year's Eve and tried to describe it when I got home? it is. I then put the phone up to the speaker. She was amazed and thrilled (and she always liked Santana too). She was very supportive of my music (still is) and enjoyed entertaining my diverse group of musician friends when we rehearsed at my home. My regret now is that I never took her to a Santana concert with me. With the peer pressure, it just wasn't cool back then to take your mother! What really strikes me is how the CD validates much of my memories from what I experienced that night in '73. It has been my thirty-year belief that the energy, intensity, and chemistry was on a higher level the first time I saw Santana, (12-31-73) than any show I saw, maybe a dozen more times, say through the mid eighties. I can also compare this CD to other recordings done earlier in 1973 with the same band, such as the DVD "Live at Budokan and the Lotus 3 album set. As good as they are, IMHO, they do not match the intensity of this Winterland event. Here's my theory: All the ingredients where there for this show to stand out. If you look at what was going on socially at that time in the United States, (especially in San Francisco) i.e tensions from the Vietnam War, racial and social hostilities fueled by extreme pro-activist groups for Black Power, Chicano Power, white supremacists, gay rights, the drug culture, various religious groups etc, etc, all of these forces were meeting, should I say clashing under the roof of Winterland on a New Year's Eve. This was Santana's first show back in San Fransisco in quite a while, and Carlos presented a spiritual identity in this old cavernous auditorium that many of these people refused to accept. My perspective as a sixteen year-old, was that there was much more going on at Winterland besides various groups of individuals making political or religious statements. I got a strong sense that forces of good and evil were having a head on collision. Also, these positive and negative forces were fueling the energy coming from the stage. You probably wouldn't make these associations just listening to the CD's, (I think it was recorded through the mixing board, so the crowd noise is almost completely minimized), but from what I observed and felt through my spirit being at the concert, that's exactly what was happening. The only time I could see that Carlos was relaxed was when he first came out on stage, but that changed almost immediately. He became intense, very focused and drivin to address the pain (as he stated) that was before him in this diversified audience. I'd never experienced witnessing this conflict of energies in any concert before or after this event. It's unfortunate that the CD didn't include the pause between songs when Carlos addressed "the pain" he felt. I'll always remember him saying "I will cry for you, if you let me" or something very similar. I'll just leave it at that, because I don't want to write anything that would suggest that I am anything less than extremely grateful for receiving this wonderful gift!! In comparison to other shows of that era too, is that the African influence really stands out from the Winterland show, based on, not just the song selection, but that Leon Thomas was allowed to show off his talents. On Lotus, or the Budokan DVD, he was not featured as much, and was more low-key when he had the spotlight. At this Winterland show, he was so energetic he was scary. His energy, animation, and vocal capabilities were super-human, if not supernatural. You can hear and feel his energy on the CD (Um-Um-Um in particular) and this is consistent with my memory of how unbelievable Leon Thomas was during the show. At the time, I missed Gregg Rolie, but Leon was something to experience! Another memory I have sparked by the CD was that Chepito was extremely lively and intense throughout the show. His hair was so long at that time, it could have touched the floor. It was flying everywhere when he really got going. It was hard to know who to watch. The band was hitting on all cylinders. Also validated by the CD, is that it's no wonder why Doug Rauch impressed me so much! Man, he was flying! For one night, he really stepped it up a few notches, not that he needed to. I remember thinking, "how can this guy, who looks barely older than me, play like this???" So here I am now, a seasoned bass player with over 30 years experience, STILL amazed by Doug Rauch's bass playing. He contributed so much inluence to my playing style. I got a little emotional last night when I heard the melody again from Xi-Ba-Ba. I have heard it since, but it was magical during this show. That melody always haunted me, and that melody above every thing else I heard. was the one I couldn't wait to get home the next day to recreate it on my bass. I didn't want to forget it. Deepest thanks for this wonderful gift.
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