STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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When you hear the music of Santana and Journey on the radio, it’s not obvious that the two bands have a common link.
Journey guitarist Neal Schon, and their 1973-1980 keyboardist and singer Gregg Rolie (true fans know Rolie and Steve Perry were Journey’s co-lead singers over a span of three albums) were both charter members of Santana.
Both will be in the house April 16 at the PPL Center for a rare Santana/Journey co-headlining concert that should intertwine branches of classic rock’s family tree in electric fashion. It’s the last (so far) of three East Coast shows where the two bands share the stage.
Schon, of course, will be performing with Journey, and he and Rolie are slated to perform as special guests with Carlos Santana’s current band of Cindy Blackman Santana on drums, singers Tommy Anthony and Andy Vargas, a horn section comprised of Bill Ortiz and Jeff Cressman, keyboardist David K. Mathews, bassist Benny Rietveld, and percussionists Karl Perazzo and Paoli Mejías.
Making this an even more jaw-dropping affair will be additional special guest appearances by original Santana members, percussionist Michael Carabello and drummer Michael Shrieve. Shrieve said in a phone interview that he’s seen on online message boards that Journey fans would be ecstatic to see Rolie sing with Journey again.
As to whether it would actually happen, Shrieve would only say: “You never know.”
Filipino singer Arnel Pineda took over Steve Perry’s frontman role in Journey in 2007.
The Allentown show comes the day after the release of the album “Santana IV,” which stunningly recaptures the feel of early Santana, with Rolie’s lead vocals and vintage organ sound joining Carlos Santana’s signature guitar attack, and backed by Schon, Shrieve, Carabello, Rietveld and Perazzo. The title is a reference to sequentially following 1971’s “Santana III,” the last album to feature Carabello with the rest of the Woodstock era lineup.
Of the reunion, Shrieve said, “They had been talking about it for years. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because we talked about it so much.”
He said Santana’s “pretty extensive” live set would include “Soul Sacrifice,” “Jingo,” “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman” and “a lot of the newer material.”
“When I first got together with Santana, we lived in a house in San Francisco. Everybody had their own music they were listening to. Michael Carabello had … Tito Puente. Carlos was listening to blues. Gregg was into British rock ‘n’ roll, and I brought jazz into it. Carlos took more to the melodic stuff (jazz),” Shrieve said of the group’s blend of sounds.
The instrumental “Soul Sacrifice” made Shrieve — then just 20 years old — one of the shining stars of Woodstock in 1969. His historic drum solo, combined with an eclectic larger body of work that includes film scores, world music, electronic, jazz and rock, landed Shrieve at No. 10 on “Rolling Stone”’s Best Drummers of All Time list in 2011.
Although honored to be in the top 10, “anybody that’s on that list will tell you there’s better drummers not on the list,” he said.
Santana also played the ill-fated free rock concert organized by The Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway, which was marred by violence and a murder. Shrieve said that where Woodstock was “beautiful” and “the face of good,” Altamont was “as frightening as you can imagine” and “the face of evil.” “I got out of there as soon as possible,” he said, adding that the band insisted they not be featured in the 1970 documentary film “Gimme Shelter.”
In retrospect, Shrieve somewhat regrets making that request because of Altamont’s place in history, even though it is an infamous one.