Tag Archives: Interview

Interview: CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA

27 Nov

http://crypticrock.com/interview-cindy-blackman-santana/

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INTERVIEW – CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA

Staying true to who you are is important in life, and in the world of music, there is no other way. Virtuoso Drummer Cindy Blackman Santana has known who she was for a long time, and it certainly shows each time she gets behind the kit. Working in areas ranging from Jazz to Rock-n-Roll, she has done it all over the three plus decades of performing with renowned Jazz musicians as well as the likes of rockstars such as Lenny Kravitz.

Now looking to broaden her horizons and hone her skills as a vocalist, she recently released the colorful new single “Fun Party Splash” back in August with plans for a full-length album in the near future. Excited for the new challenge, Blackman Santana sat down to talk her extensive experience as a performer, life rocking with Lenny Kravitz, working with her husband Carlos Santana, staying healthy, and much more.

CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music essentially your entire life.  You have worked in Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, and have built an amazing career as a drummer. You have worked in other genres. I first wanted to ask you, what has this wild ride been like for you?

Cindy Blackman Santana – It has been incredible because I have been really blessed to be able to do what I love with playing music and with the different people that I have been able to play with. I’ve gotten really a wonderful dose of a lot of variation in music and a lot of traveling. The whole combination of everything that has come about has been a great blessing.

CrypticRock.com – That is really great to hear. As you mentioned, you have built quite a resume in your years touring and recording as well as worked with a great group of people through the years. You have toured and recorded with a long list of artists as well as a broad range of personalities. From this vast experience that you have had in a broad range of genres, as well as a broad range of personalities, what have you learned from it all?

Cindy Blackman Santana – Goodness, there is so much that I have learned about music, about people, and about myself. I don’t even know where to start. With music, one of the earliest lessons that I learned from Jackie Mclean, when I played many years ago with his band, he said, “Treat my band as if it were your band and play the way you’d play with your band with me and my band.” That set a really incredible president for me, because when I play somebody’s music, when I play with any project, I ingest the music as if I wrote it. I put 1,000 percent of myself into it in the same way that I would if it was my own project. It doesn’t matter if I play a part or just a situation where you’re able to explore with improvisation, or whether it is group based music. Whatever the situation is, if I’m playing the beat, I play the beat like there’s no tomorrow. I give everything I got. If I’m exploring, then I explore.

That was really one of the greatest things I have learned that I carry with me throughout my entire career of playing. It is a beautiful thing to play with different people and to see where each person and group likes to go. That is something that I relate to in life as well, because every situation is different, you can’t treat every situation the same way. If you hang out with your friend from New York today and your friend from Alaska tomorrow, they may have 2 totally different head spaces. We might not get into the exact same thing, and that is ok because they are totally different people. That is another thing I learned about not only playing in musical situations, but also in life.

About myself, I’ve learned to be adaptable to the situation in order to make it work, but yet remain me and still be who I am, to still be Cindy, still be the drummer that I want to be. That’s a really important task that also is a concept, for me anyway, that I can translate into my everyday living, because again, I can be in this situation or that situation with different people, but I still have to be true to myself.

CrypticRock.com – Those are very fascinating and important lessons life lessons to learn. As you said, those are things that you can apply to everyday life. You have been very busy through the years touring, and among those times that you were touring and recording, you spent a great deal of time with Lenny Kravitz and his band. You toured through the years with them, you were also in the studio. What was that experience with Lenny and his band like?

Cindy Blackman Santana – We had a lot of playing time together, we logged in a lot of hours. We played for hours together a day, did multiple tours, and when we would do concert tours, we do soundcheck for 2 or 3 hours, then we would play 2 two-hour concerts. We would get a lot of playing together. It was really incredible to be a part of the growth of a unit like that and it became so tight that if you wanted to put some dental floss in between the beats you could do it, but you might have to tug a little bit (laughs). That was really a great experience. It was fun to also play for a massive amount of people. I’ve never done that before joining Lenny. The first time I did it, it was very daunting.

We played this festival, I think there were 70,000 plus people at the concert that day. It was an outside concert, so most people have on t-shirts and tanktops and a lot of guys had their shirts off, so you just saw their arms waving in the air because they were doing the wave. I had to adjust, because physically looking at it, my equilibrium was thrown off. It was really weird. The energy that you got back from those people was incredible. The fact that we were able to give them energy and feed them, make them feel good, was really amazing. That band is a Groove-based band, which was wonderful. To be responsible for making that many people feel good, dance, and want more, was amazing. All together, I played with Lenny for about 15 years. It was really incredible.

CrypticRock.com – It certainly sounds like it was. Anyone who saw you in your time drumming for Lenny Kravitz, know you really were a focal point behind the drumkit, you really were a presence.

Cindy Blackman Santana – Thank you. Again, it was really amazing to be accepted by the people, by the fans, on the journey the band was on. Again, the energy you receive from that is really incredible and very inspiring. To be able to give that energy back to the people is really a blessing. Especially when your goal, a part of creating great music, is to make them feel good. For me and most of my friends, for my husband, our goals is to make great music, but you want to make them feel good. You want them to feel their heart’s center. From my perspective, when you make somebody feel their heart’s center, when you help, it’s not twisting their arm, but when you help them own their heart’s center, they start to feel love inside.

When everyone starts to beam love inside, it’s only natural and second nature that you beam it outside because it exudes out of you. That means that you transport that to your immediate surroundings. Then, that gets transported even further. Once we start doing that, the whole vibration changes and everyone starts to vibe on a higher level, a higher rate. Once we keep doing that, and again, this is something we need to focus on in these times too, it raises the vibration of everyone. That is the way to stop the negativity that we are seeing today.

CrypticRock.com – That is a wonderful outlook and a good perspective for people to follow. Speaking of feeling good, you recently released a new single which is actually a pretty feel-good song from “Fun Party Splash.” It is very uplifting and energetic. What inspired that track?

Cindy Blackman Santana – It is a feel good song and it’s meant to be that. I was in the studio with my producer and he said, “How do you feel?” I said, “Good.” Then he said, “How do you want to make people feel?” I said, “Good.” He said, “What words come to your mind when you think of just having fun?” The first 3 words that came to my mind were “Fun Party Splash,” and he said, “Ok, write that.” We started writing and that’s what came out. It was exactly that, I’m so glad you picked up on that. I’m hopeful that other people will pick up on that too.

That song is purely meant to just have fun, not be irresponsible, but take the weight off your shoulders. It is to lift any kind of negative veil, even if only for a moment, so you can see light, joy, fun, and emit and transfer that to other people. That’s exactly what that song is meant for. That is my hope in terms of how people receive it and how it makes them feel.

CrypticRock.com – Well, it certainly gives off that vibration. It included Carlos Santana on the guitar on the track. Now, most people know your signature work as a drummer, but you do actually have a very nice singing voice. Is singing something you have had a passion for through the years?

Cindy Blackman Santana – I thank you for that. Firstly, yes, Carlos sounds amazing on it. Regarding my singing, that is actually only the second song I ever sang, this is brand new. This is a real major voyage. The very first song I ever sang recently was back in July on the Santana/Isley Brothers’ song called “I Remember,” which is a ballad. I wrote and sang on that record. That was the very first song I sang. “Fun Party Splash” is the second song that I sang and recorded. We have 6-7 more vocal songs that are going to be on the record, the complete record when it comes out. This is a brand new venture, a new terrain, a new territory, a whole new realm that I am exploring.

CrypticRock.com – That is really cool. It has to be exciting at this point of your career to have something new and fresh like that.

Cindy Blackman Santana – It is, yes. It’s really different and it is also fun. It’s work too because I have to practice singing. I know how to practice and warm up the drums, but I have no idea what to do with singing. My sister, who is a vocalist, recommended a vocal teacher for me who happens to be a friend of ours. Now I have a vocal coach, she is teaching me different techniques and helping me out a lot with the breathing, the voice, how not to hurt myself, and how not to strain. There are things you need to know to protect your organic voice.

I know how to protect myself now as a drummer. I know to practice, I know how to do things, I’m very comfortable with that. Learning this, the new paradigm for me is really cool because I consider myself to be a perpetual student of life. I always look to learn something. To study, and to learn this, is just inspiring for me.

CrypticRock.com – It certainly sounds like it and it will be exciting to see where it goes. You mentioned that there are actually 6 or 7 more vocal tracks. That said, a record will soon follow. What stylistic direction are you going go with this record? It is certainly compelling since you have an eclectic background with Jazz and Rock-n-Roll.

Cindy Blackman Santana – They are already recorded. Most of the songs are mastered and ready to go. We just need to finish a couple of more things with some other tracks that are on the record and then they will be completed. The vocal stuff has already been finished. In terms of the content of the record, it is a record that contains a lot of the stuff that I love. People might misconstrue that as being eclectic or being misguided or undirected, but that’s not it. I didn’t want to do a record with just vocals, because there is more to me than just that. I’m a drummer who likes to play, explore, and solo. I’m a jazz musician so there’s a lot of stuff that I like to cover. This record entails elements of all those things.

Carlos is playing on almost all of the vocal tracks, but he is also playing on the instrumentals as well. Vernon Reed is on it too. There are other people who are on the record too, so it has punch, whether they are instrumentals or whether they are vocals. It’s got a lot of dynamic range. I’m really proud of what we are putting together and where this thing is going. I hope that people see it for what it is – it’s an offering of things that I love. It’s not that I’m confused, it’s not that I don’t know where I want to go, I just love a lot of things. So instead of giving a bouquet of just red roses, I’m giving a bouquet of a bunch of different colors, a bunch of different textures of flowers, and that’s what this record is.

CrypticRock.com – Excellent, and that honestly makes the best music. It is personal and from the heart, you are giving people a piece of yourself. It will be exciting to see when the record does come out. Now, as we have spoken about, you are very busy. You are on tour with Santana and the schedule is pretty packed through 2018. Being a touring musician, having spent a lot of years on the road, how do you manage your time away from home? Also, how do you keep yourself healthy?

Cindy Blackman Santana – I don’t drink alcohol. Also, I don’t smoke anything. I live in as clean of a way as possible in terms of what I ingest. I eat as cleanly as possible. I carry a vitamix blender so I do a lot of blended foods. I drink a lot of water. There are also certain supplements that I take. I find quiet times and I try to get as much rest as possible. I’m not a partier, I’m not gonna be hanging out all hours of the night. It is not that I never hung out, I have done it before, but as a rule, I don’t do that. I like to go back to my room, chill out, relax, find my center, and make sure that I’m well rested physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I take care of myself. I don’t get involved in extraneous things that go on that a lot of people get involved with and I’ve never have. I’ve never done that. My beginnings, touring before Lenny, I never did that. During Lenny I never did, and after Lenny I never did that. It is just not my personality. I take care of myself.

CrypticRock.com – Well that is a good thing and it certainly helps because a tour schedule can be very rigorous as well as exhausting.

Cindy Blackman Santana – Yes, it can. You give a lot, especially when you’re coming from the heart. You give a lot to people, you give a lot of energy, and that’s a good thing. That said, you also have to remember our organic bodies need replenishment and they need to be fed proper fuel. I don’t understand how somebody can rationalize that if they are driving a Ferrari, you have to give it high octane fuel, the best that you can find, gonna give it premium gas. Yet, they eat McDonalds, Burger King, or Kentucky Fried Chicken as a staple. That’s their diet and I don’t understand that, it’s improper fuel. That’s not fuel that’s going to yield your highest physical, mental, or spiritual output.

I enjoy my food and I enjoy good tasting food, but I look at food as fuel. I’m not saying I don’t have a dessert or anything because I do, I like sweets, but I always balance myself. It’s just finding the balance to keep yourself healthy and feed yourself with proper fuel that will allow you to operate mentally, physically, and spiritually on a level that you want to. For me, I want to operate on the highest level possible. Everything I eat/ingest, whether it is a liquid, food, or thoughts, is on as high a level I can possibly make it. I have my fun too, but like I said, I make sure that I balance myself.

CrypticRock.com – Balance is essential. My last question is pertaining to film because at CrypticRock we cover all sorts of music but we also cover movies, particularly Horror and Science Fiction. If you are fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?

Cindy Blackman Santana – I love Science Fiction. I am a Science Fiction nut! I love anything having to do with Sci-Fi and futuristic movies. First of all, I think that there is a lot of information given in those movies, but also movies that really stir the imagination. They open your brain up and help you imagine things that are just bigger than life, or at least appear to be. I love creative thinking and creativity. Sci-Fi movies are among my favorite movies ever. I always loved Star Trek, I am certainly a Treky. I like the older TV shows like The Twilight Zone. Those things are always intriguing to me.

I also love movies like Wonder Woman, it is very interesting to me. I enjoyed the original series Planet of The Apes, and the new ones. Also, 2001 A Space Odysseyand any movie like that. I also like Drama and  Comedies. One of my favorite movies is Wag the Dog (1997). I like Bringing Down the House (2003), that’s really funny. I love movies in general, but Sci-Fi, they are probably my favorite movies. I like The X Files a lot, which is a TV show, not a movie, but they made a movie of it. Also, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), all those kind of movies I love.

2018 TOUR DATES:
JAN 24 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 26 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 27 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 28 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 31 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
FEB 1 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
FEB 2 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
FEB 3 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 16 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 18 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 19 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 20 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 23 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 25 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 26 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 27 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV

FOR MORE ON CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA: CINDYBLACKMANSANTANA.COM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM
FOR MORE ON SANTANA: SANTANA.COM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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SF Weekly: “Disneyland With Heavy Eyeliner: Ray Vaughn Is Back”

22 Nov

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 2.37.29 PM

http://www.sfweekly.com/music/music-music/disneyland-with-heavy-eyeliner-ray-vaughn-is-back/

Disneyland With Heavy Eyeliner: Ray Vaughn Is Back

The punk rocker-turned-singer-songwriter Ray Vaughn returns to his South of Market stomping grounds.

Ray Vaughn (Photo by Greta and Manu Schnetzler)

Ray Vaughn hates the term “SoMa.” To him, the area now populated by condos and cavernous modern restaurants will always be South of Market. It’s where he cut his teeth in the early 1980s, living in a massive warehouse dubbed The Crab Palace and playing in a punk band called Hostages.

“No one went [to] South of Market unless someone took you there. It wasn’t just gay, it was outlaw,” Vaughn says. “Polk Street and Castro were gay, but South of Market could be anything you wanted it to be. For a moment, it just felt like a secret.”

While Hostages and Vaughn’s other band, Die Bossa Nova, have long since disbanded, much of the raw energy from those years can still be felt in the straight-up rock ’n’ roll he plays today with his self-titled group, Ray Vaughn Band. He’ll be just down the street from his former digs at Hotel Utah this Saturday, performing for a much different audience than he once did at local spots like Mabuhay Gardens, The I Beam, Nightbreak, and a handful of warehouses off Harrison Street.

Regardless of the backdrop, Vaughn’s essence as a queer punk rocker from the 1970s and ’80s bleeds through his guitar, and the commanding vocals he deftly throws at the crowd are enough to make you feel you’ve been with him the whole time. His two recent albums, Way Down Low andWounded Bird, are reflective treatises on a life hard lived, but one that isn’t ready to walk off the stage.

Vaughn got his first taste of punk rock while living in London in the early ’70s, and returned home to the frenetic landscape of early S.F. punk bands such as The OffsThe Avengers, and Dead Kennedys. It was 1978, and he had just got a job at the original Hamburger Mary’s, right across the street from The Stud.

“There was this camaraderie at Hamburger Mary’s,” he says. “It was straight, it was gay, it was punk, it was hippie, it was drag queen. But nothing was cynical. There was a sense of liberty and respect at the same time. We wanted to shock them, but we still wanted them to come back and tip us.”

Hostages was in its heyday, and Vaughn lived with lead guitarist Eddie Rawlings and producer Michael Rosen in the warehouse on Fifth and Clara streets. Rosen went on to produce records for homegrown thrash metal heroes like Testament and Death Angel, and later for bands like Less Than Jake and Rancid. But back in the ’80s, he was the connective tissue for everything Vaughn and Rawlings had going on.

Rosen notes that while they were all friends and contemporaries of bands like Romeo Void and Flipper, Hostages were in between so many genres that they didn’t ever fully take off. True to form, they were as much about living punk as playing it.

“Eddie had this old Chevy Super Sport that he’d have parked out front of our place, and he let this homeless person sleep in it when he wasn’t using it,” Vaughn says. “Then, when he’d wake up in the morning, he’d roust him out of the car and he’d go to work. It was a symbiotic relationship, because he’d make sure the car wasn’t stolen. That was South of Market in those days.”

Vaughn also describes parties at The Crab Palace that started at midnight and would go on until the next day, and drug-fueled romps that put the hippie scene to shame.

“It was like Disneyland with heavy eyeliner,” he says.

All-night soirees were complete with elaborately built stages, fire-eaters, snake-charmers, and go-go boys in bondage. At one point, their place hosted a large flock of tropical birds that were given free rein over the premises. But all the carefree melee was underscored by the destructive power of the AIDS epidemic, and in 1987 — when the first blood tests for HIV became available in the U.S. — Vaughn received a positive diagnosis. While he sat and watched his community disappear around him, he survived, responding well to the medication.

“You handled it one of two ways: You became numb to it and moved on, or you came apart and moved away. A lot of people weren’t from here, and it was too hard,” Vaughn says. “You would see someone and they looked OK, then you’d see them two weeks later and they looked like they could die at any minute. Then you’d hear they died. It was apocalyptic.”

Running up credit cards thinking he’d be dead before he had to pay them, he played a monthly residency with Die Bossa Nova at Paradise Lounge. But he was growing bored of his own music, and weary from all the death around him. It was around this time that he met his current partner.

“He came to the U.S. from Central America, which was in the middle of a revolution at the time. The world suddenly became a bigger place for me. I realized it wasn’t about me or just playing music. Being a lead singer in some band just didn’t seem to be as important,” Vaughn says. “It was about growing up and seeing that you’re something larger than just being in the punk scene.”

With this in mind, Vaughn enrolled in City College and S.F. State, earning a B.A. in Spanish and a master’s and teaching credential in special education. He went to work as a paraprofessional at Galileo High School in 1998 and ultimately became the department chair of special education, retiring last year.

“To be honest with you, a stage is a stage,” Vaughn says. “You have to keep an audience engaged. Teaching is performance, if you think about it. But no one who knows me could have seen that turn of events in a million years.”

Despite this cavalier attitude, by many accounts Vaughn had a true gift when it came to working with and advocating for kids with disabilities, and was something of a celebrity rabble-rouser in the world of special ed in San Francisco. In fact, he was among a group of teachers in the district pushing for greater levels of mainstream classroom inclusion.

And on the way out of his second act, Vaughn started to write music again.

“I suddenly felt I had new stories to tell. I had to relive a whole new life in order to come back and have something relevant to say,” Vaughn says. “If you ever want to feel authentic again, go work in an inner-city high school. You’ll recognize very quickly who has choices and who doesn’t.”

He’s once again linked up with producer Michael Rosen to put out two full-length albums since 2012, featuring a cadre of musicians such as Michael Urbano (Sheryl Crow, Cracker, Third Eye Blind), Prairie Prince of The Tubes, and Kevin White and James Deprato of Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express. Eddie Rawlings, who Vaughn credits as the backbone of most of his musical endeavors, is once again on lead guitar.

“With Hostages, Ray and I would just sort of develop a communication while we were playing where we had this sort of telepathy, and we’ve rediscovered that and that’s been fun,” Rawlings says.

This Saturday, the band includes Rawlings, bassist Ricky Fishman from San Francisco post-punk band The Valkays, and local drummer Jeff Herrera, who got his start playing at The Mab when he was just 15.

Vaughn once played music with nothing but time in front of him. These days, it’s the other way around. But that isn’t a bad thing. It’s likely he’d be unable to write the songs he does today without the two lifetimes in his rearview.

Rosen describes Vaughn’s return to the stage and the studio as an epilogue to everything they were doing back in the ’80s.

“I think that Ray was in a perfect place to do this, having finished his other career and coming back to this was satisfying to both of us,” Rosen says. “We all came back with a little more perspective and a little more knowledge. We weren’t trying to ‘make it,’ we were just trying to make a really good record.”

Ray Vaughn Band, Saturday, Nov. 18, 9 p.m., at Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St. $10; rayosomusic.com

Interview: CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA

16 Nov

http://crypticrock.com/interview-cindy-blackman-santana/

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 2.59.56 PM

INTERVIEW – CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA

Staying true to who you are is important in life, and in the world of music, there is no other way. Virtuoso Drummer Cindy Blackman Santana has known who she was for a long time, and it certainly shows each time she gets behind the kit. Working in areas ranging from Jazz to Rock-n-Roll, she has done it all over the three plus decades of performing with renowned Jazz musicians as well as the likes of rockstars such as Lenny Kravitz.

Now looking to broaden her horizons and hone her skills as a vocalist, she recently released the colorful new single “Fun Party Splash” back in August with plans for a full-length album in the near future. Excited for the new challenge, Blackman Santana sat down to talk her extensive experience as a performer, life rocking with Lenny Kravitz, working with her husband Carlos Santana, staying healthy, and much more.

CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music essentially your entire life.  You have worked in Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, and have built an amazing career as a drummer. You have worked in other genres. I first wanted to ask you, what has this wild ride been like for you?

Cindy Blackman Santana – It has been incredible because I have been really blessed to be able to do what I love with playing music and with the different people that I have been able to play with. I’ve gotten really a wonderful dose of a lot of variation in music and a lot of traveling. The whole combination of everything that has come about has been a great blessing.

CrypticRock.com – That is really great to hear. As you mentioned, you have built quite a resume in your years touring and recording as well as worked with a great group of people through the years. You have toured and recorded with a long list of artists as well as a broad range of personalities. From this vast experience that you have had in a broad range of genres, as well as a broad range of personalities, what have you learned from it all?

Cindy Blackman Santana – Goodness, there is so much that I have learned about music, about people, and about myself. I don’t even know where to start. With music, one of the earliest lessons that I learned from Jackie Mclean, when I played many years ago with his band, he said, “Treat my band as if it were your band and play the way you’d play with your band with me and my band.” That set a really incredible president for me, because when I play somebody’s music, when I play with any project, I ingest the music as if I wrote it. I put 1,000 percent of myself into it in the same way that I would if it was my own project. It doesn’t matter if I play a part or just a situation where you’re able to explore with improvisation, or whether it is group based music. Whatever the situation is, if I’m playing the beat, I play the beat like there’s no tomorrow. I give everything I got. If I’m exploring, then I explore.

That was really one of the greatest things I have learned that I carry with me throughout my entire career of playing. It is a beautiful thing to play with different people and to see where each person and group likes to go. That is something that I relate to in life as well, because every situation is different, you can’t treat every situation the same way. If you hang out with your friend from New York today and your friend from Alaska tomorrow, they may have 2 totally different head spaces. We might not get into the exact same thing, and that is ok because they are totally different people. That is another thing I learned about not only playing in musical situations, but also in life.

About myself, I’ve learned to be adaptable to the situation in order to make it work, but yet remain me and still be who I am, to still be Cindy, still be the drummer that I want to be. That’s a really important task that also is a concept, for me anyway, that I can translate into my everyday living, because again, I can be in this situation or that situation with different people, but I still have to be true to myself.

CrypticRock.com – Those are very fascinating and important lessons life lessons to learn. As you said, those are things that you can apply to everyday life. You have been very busy through the years touring, and among those times that you were touring and recording, you spent a great deal of time with Lenny Kravitz and his band. You toured through the years with them, you were also in the studio. What was that experience with Lenny and his band like?

Cindy Blackman Santana – We had a lot of playing time together, we logged in a lot of hours. We played for hours together a day, did multiple tours, and when we would do concert tours, we do soundcheck for 2 or 3 hours, then we would play 2 two-hour concerts. We would get a lot of playing together. It was really incredible to be a part of the growth of a unit like that and it became so tight that if you wanted to put some dental floss in between the beats you could do it, but you might have to tug a little bit (laughs). That was really a great experience. It was fun to also play for a massive amount of people. I’ve never done that before joining Lenny. The first time I did it, it was very daunting.

We played this festival, I think there were 70,000 plus people at the concert that day. It was an outside concert, so most people have on t-shirts and tanktops and a lot of guys had their shirts off, so you just saw their arms waving in the air because they were doing the wave. I had to adjust, because physically looking at it, my equilibrium was thrown off. It was really weird. The energy that you got back from those people was incredible. The fact that we were able to give them energy and feed them, make them feel good, was really amazing. That band is a Groove-based band, which was wonderful. To be responsible for making that many people feel good, dance, and want more, was amazing. All together, I played with Lenny for about 15 years. It was really incredible.

CrypticRock.com – It certainly sounds like it was. Anyone who saw you in your time drumming for Lenny Kravitz, know you really were a focal point behind the drumkit, you really were a presence.

Cindy Blackman Santana – Thank you. Again, it was really amazing to be accepted by the people, by the fans, on the journey the band was on. Again, the energy you receive from that is really incredible and very inspiring. To be able to give that energy back to the people is really a blessing. Especially when your goal, a part of creating great music, is to make them feel good. For me and most of my friends, for my husband, our goals is to make great music, but you want to make them feel good. You want them to feel their heart’s center. From my perspective, when you make somebody feel their heart’s center, when you help, it’s not twisting their arm, but when you help them own their heart’s center, they start to feel love inside.

When everyone starts to beam love inside, it’s only natural and second nature that you beam it outside because it exudes out of you. That means that you transport that to your immediate surroundings. Then, that gets transported even further. Once we start doing that, the whole vibration changes and everyone starts to vibe on a higher level, a higher rate. Once we keep doing that, and again, this is something we need to focus on in these times too, it raises the vibration of everyone. That is the way to stop the negativity that we are seeing today.

CrypticRock.com – That is a wonderful outlook and a good perspective for people to follow. Speaking of feeling good, you recently released a new single which is actually a pretty feel-good song from “Fun Party Splash.” It is very uplifting and energetic. What inspired that track?

Cindy Blackman Santana – It is a feel good song and it’s meant to be that. I was in the studio with my producer and he said, “How do you feel?” I said, “Good.” Then he said, “How do you want to make people feel?” I said, “Good.” He said, “What words come to your mind when you think of just having fun?” The first 3 words that came to my mind were “Fun Party Splash,” and he said, “Ok, write that.” We started writing and that’s what came out. It was exactly that, I’m so glad you picked up on that. I’m hopeful that other people will pick up on that too.

That song is purely meant to just have fun, not be irresponsible, but take the weight off your shoulders. It is to lift any kind of negative veil, even if only for a moment, so you can see light, joy, fun, and emit and transfer that to other people. That’s exactly what that song is meant for. That is my hope in terms of how people receive it and how it makes them feel.

CrypticRock.com – Well, it certainly gives off that vibration. It included Carlos Santana on the guitar on the track. Now, most people know your signature work as a drummer, but you do actually have a very nice singing voice. Is singing something you have had a passion for through the years?

Cindy Blackman Santana – I thank you for that. Firstly, yes, Carlos sounds amazing on it. Regarding my singing, that is actually only the second song I ever sang, this is brand new. This is a real major voyage. The very first song I ever sang recently was back in July on the Santana/Isley Brothers’ song called “I Remember,” which is a ballad. I wrote and sang on that record. That was the very first song I sang. “Fun Party Splash” is the second song that I sang and recorded. We have 6-7 more vocal songs that are going to be on the record, the complete record when it comes out. This is a brand new venture, a new terrain, a new territory, a whole new realm that I am exploring.

CrypticRock.com – That is really cool. It has to be exciting at this point of your career to have something new and fresh like that.

Cindy Blackman Santana – It is, yes. It’s really different and it is also fun. It’s work too because I have to practice singing. I know how to practice and warm up the drums, but I have no idea what to do with singing. My sister, who is a vocalist, recommended a vocal teacher for me who happens to be a friend of ours. Now I have a vocal coach, she is teaching me different techniques and helping me out a lot with the breathing, the voice, how not to hurt myself, and how not to strain. There are things you need to know to protect your organic voice.

I know how to protect myself now as a drummer. I know to practice, I know how to do things, I’m very comfortable with that. Learning this, the new paradigm for me is really cool because I consider myself to be a perpetual student of life. I always look to learn something. To study, and to learn this, is just inspiring for me.

CrypticRock.com – It certainly sounds like it and it will be exciting to see where it goes. You mentioned that there are actually 6 or 7 more vocal tracks. That said, a record will soon follow. What stylistic direction are you going go with this record? It is certainly compelling since you have an eclectic background with Jazz and Rock-n-Roll.

Cindy Blackman Santana – They are already recorded. Most of the songs are mastered and ready to go. We just need to finish a couple of more things with some other tracks that are on the record and then they will be completed. The vocal stuff has already been finished. In terms of the content of the record, it is a record that contains a lot of the stuff that I love. People might misconstrue that as being eclectic or being misguided or undirected, but that’s not it. I didn’t want to do a record with just vocals, because there is more to me than just that. I’m a drummer who likes to play, explore, and solo. I’m a jazz musician so there’s a lot of stuff that I like to cover. This record entails elements of all those things.

Carlos is playing on almost all of the vocal tracks, but he is also playing on the instrumentals as well. Vernon Reed is on it too. There are other people who are on the record too, so it has punch, whether they are instrumentals or whether they are vocals. It’s got a lot of dynamic range. I’m really proud of what we are putting together and where this thing is going. I hope that people see it for what it is – it’s an offering of things that I love. It’s not that I’m confused, it’s not that I don’t know where I want to go, I just love a lot of things. So instead of giving a bouquet of just red roses, I’m giving a bouquet of a bunch of different colors, a bunch of different textures of flowers, and that’s what this record is.

CrypticRock.com – Excellent, and that honestly makes the best music. It is personal and from the heart, you are giving people a piece of yourself. It will be exciting to see when the record does come out. Now, as we have spoken about, you are very busy. You are on tour with Santana and the schedule is pretty packed through 2018. Being a touring musician, having spent a lot of years on the road, how do you manage your time away from home? Also, how do you keep yourself healthy?

Cindy Blackman Santana – I don’t drink alcohol. Also, I don’t smoke anything. I live in as clean of a way as possible in terms of what I ingest. I eat as cleanly as possible. I carry a vitamix blender so I do a lot of blended foods. I drink a lot of water. There are also certain supplements that I take. I find quiet times and I try to get as much rest as possible. I’m not a partier, I’m not gonna be hanging out all hours of the night. It is not that I never hung out, I have done it before, but as a rule, I don’t do that. I like to go back to my room, chill out, relax, find my center, and make sure that I’m well rested physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I take care of myself. I don’t get involved in extraneous things that go on that a lot of people get involved with and I’ve never have. I’ve never done that. My beginnings, touring before Lenny, I never did that. During Lenny I never did, and after Lenny I never did that. It is just not my personality. I take care of myself.

CrypticRock.com – Well that is a good thing and it certainly helps because a tour schedule can be very rigorous as well as exhausting.

Cindy Blackman Santana – Yes, it can. You give a lot, especially when you’re coming from the heart. You give a lot to people, you give a lot of energy, and that’s a good thing. That said, you also have to remember our organic bodies need replenishment and they need to be fed proper fuel. I don’t understand how somebody can rationalize that if they are driving a Ferrari, you have to give it high octane fuel, the best that you can find, gonna give it premium gas. Yet, they eat McDonalds, Burger King, or Kentucky Fried Chicken as a staple. That’s their diet and I don’t understand that, it’s improper fuel. That’s not fuel that’s going to yield your highest physical, mental, or spiritual output.

I enjoy my food and I enjoy good tasting food, but I look at food as fuel. I’m not saying I don’t have a dessert or anything because I do, I like sweets, but I always balance myself. It’s just finding the balance to keep yourself healthy and feed yourself with proper fuel that will allow you to operate mentally, physically, and spiritually on a level that you want to. For me, I want to operate on the highest level possible. Everything I eat/ingest, whether it is a liquid, food, or thoughts, is on as high a level I can possibly make it. I have my fun too, but like I said, I make sure that I balance myself.

CrypticRock.com – Balance is essential. My last question is pertaining to film because at CrypticRock we cover all sorts of music but we also cover movies, particularly Horror and Science Fiction. If you are fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?

Cindy Blackman Santana – I love Science Fiction. I am a Science Fiction nut! I love anything having to do with Sci-Fi and futuristic movies. First of all, I think that there is a lot of information given in those movies, but also movies that really stir the imagination. They open your brain up and help you imagine things that are just bigger than life, or at least appear to be. I love creative thinking and creativity. Sci-Fi movies are among my favorite movies ever. I always loved Star Trek, I am certainly a Treky. I like the older TV shows like The Twilight Zone. Those things are always intriguing to me.

I also love movies like Wonder Woman, it is very interesting to me. I enjoyed the original series Planet of The Apes, and the new ones. Also, 2001 A Space Odysseyand any movie like that. I also like Drama and  Comedies. One of my favorite movies is Wag the Dog (1997). I like Bringing Down the House (2003), that’s really funny. I love movies in general, but Sci-Fi, they are probably my favorite movies. I like The X Files a lot, which is a TV show, not a movie, but they made a movie of it. Also, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), all those kind of movies I love.

2018 TOUR DATES:
JAN 24 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 26 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 27 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 28 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
JAN 31 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
FEB 1 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
FEB 2 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
FEB 3 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 16 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 18 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 19 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 20 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 23 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 25 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 26 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV
MAY 27 HOUSE OF BLUES AT MANDALAY BAY LAS VEGAS, NV

FOR MORE ON CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA: CINDYBLACKMANSANTANA.COM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM
FOR MORE ON SANTANA: SANTANA.COM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

Big Blend Mag Interview – CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA

14 Nov

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Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview with SUPERSTAR DRUMMER, SINGER, AND SONGWRITER CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA, who discusses her career and new single FUN, PARTY, SPLASH that features her husband Carlos Santana, and was produced by Narada Michael Walden. She also discusses the new Santana/Isley Brothers collaboration POWER OF PEACE album that features her song ‘I Remember.’

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http://blendradioandtv.com/listing/superstar-drummer-cindy-blackman-santana/#prettyPhoto

Cindy Blackman Santana.jpeg

 

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Blog Talk Radio Interview – Nov. 2 @ 2 PM: Michael Tracy “Still Got Soul”

2 Nov

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TODAY at 2 PM PST/5 PM EST:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/simon-barrett/2017/11/02/the-week-in-reviews–michael-tracy

MICHAEL TRACY combines straightforward American Rock and Roll with poignant lyrical themes, reminiscent of Rock Singer/Songwriter idols like Tom Petty, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen. He has released four studio albums, and together with his band has shared the stage with Bon Jovi (garnering him a featured article in Billboard Magazine), PoisonGeorge ThorogoodStyxForeignerDon FelderJefferson StarshipDokken, and Zach Myers (Shinedown). MICHAEL TRACY will release his new album STILL GOT SOUL in stores and online November 17, 2017. This latest effort is his most ambitious yet, representing an artist who has clearly found his voice and a “lane” to call his own.

His previous label experiences not being a perfect fit, MICHAEL TRACY was inspired to start his own independent label, TW Music Group, to support his new release, and set out to find the right producer that could capture the sound and style he had spent years cultivating, but had yet to realize on a record. In late 2015 Michael would find what he was looking for with Los Angeles producers Bob Marlette (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper) and Sahaj Ticotin (Ra). He traveled to LA and recorded three songs with them that would appear on his early-2016 release Love And Worries, a short collection of previously unreleased material. From those original sessions, a bond emerged between Michael and producer Sahaj Ticotin, and a shared belief that together they could create great records. They got together again in late 2016, co-writing an original Holiday tune that Michael had been working on called “Poinsettia Red.”

 

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Blog Talk Radio Interview – Nov. 2 @ 2 PM: Michael Tracy “Still Got Soul”

2 Nov

888295630627

TODAY at 2 PM PST/5 PM EST:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/simon-barrett/2017/11/02/the-week-in-reviews–michael-tracy

MICHAEL TRACY combines straightforward American Rock and Roll with poignant lyrical themes, reminiscent of Rock Singer/Songwriter idols like Tom Petty, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen. He has released four studio albums, and together with his band has shared the stage with Bon Jovi (garnering him a featured article in Billboard Magazine), PoisonGeorge ThorogoodStyxForeignerDon FelderJefferson StarshipDokken, and Zach Myers (Shinedown). MICHAEL TRACY will release his new album STILL GOT SOUL in stores and online November 17, 2017. This latest effort is his most ambitious yet, representing an artist who has clearly found his voice and a “lane” to call his own.

His previous label experiences not being a perfect fit, MICHAEL TRACY was inspired to start his own independent label, TW Music Group, to support his new release, and set out to find the right producer that could capture the sound and style he had spent years cultivating, but had yet to realize on a record. In late 2015 Michael would find what he was looking for with Los Angeles producers Bob Marlette (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper) and Sahaj Ticotin (Ra). He traveled to LA and recorded three songs with them that would appear on his early-2016 release Love And Worries, a short collection of previously unreleased material. From those original sessions, a bond emerged between Michael and producer Sahaj Ticotin, and a shared belief that together they could create great records. They got together again in late 2016, co-writing an original Holiday tune that Michael had been working on called “Poinsettia Red.”

 

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CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA Interview TODAY on The Ray Shasho Show – 5 pm PST /8 pm EST

25 Oct

 

Tune in to listen to today’s Ray Shasho Show interview with Cindy Blackman Santana!

https://bbsradio.com/html5_player/html5_player.htm

Wedneday, October 25, 2017

5 pm PST /8 pm EST

 

The past few months have been a blur for CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA, who is currently touring and performing with her husband Carlos Santana, is featured as a vocalist, drummer, and songwriter on “Power of Peace,” the new Santana/Isley Brothers collaboration, and has been busy touring with her own band and recording tracks in the studio with the legendary producer NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN. Together through Walden’s Tarpan Records label recently released the new single “FUN, PARTY, SPLASH” featuring Carlos Santana on all digital platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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