The Carabao-Santana Jams in 2013 and 2016 – With video

Add Carabao has said that the band’s biggest influence is Santana. Carabao played with Santana two times: The first time did not go great. And the second time was transcendent, as you can see in the video below.

The story of the first Carabao Santana Jam: Carabao opened for Santana at a concert in Bangkok, on March 6, 2013. The Carabao fans were beside ourselves with anticipation hoping that the two bands might also play together that night, although nothing had been arranged beforehand. I later heard this story from two directions: from an interview I watched of Add Carabao talking about the experience, and from my own conversation with a sound engineer who facilitated that jam session. The sound engineer says that when Carabao started playing, he was standing next to Carlos Santana, who instantly reacted to it, jumping up and down and playing air guitar. He turned to the sound engineer and said, “Ask them if we can play together.” This is exactly what everyone had been hoping for, but Add was so intimidated by the enormity of it, he had to be urged to go on. As it turns out he was starstruck and could hardly say or sing anything on stage, which is really odd, as from my perspective he’s the bigger star. They played the Santana song “Exodus,” and Add had had just hours to learn that song. He failed. Although Add couldn’t sing much in that first Carabao-Santana jam session, he said he had fun, and the rest of the band did well. Then after a long jam finished, Carlos Santana shouted out “CaraBOO” (pronouncing the band’s name wrong as he tried to recognize them). The whole crowd shouted back “CaraBOW!” Also at that concert, Carabao performed the song “Santana Carabao” and presented Carlos Santana with a translation of that song (their own translation). The song summarizes the Carabao-Santana connection better than anything I can say. Years after that concert, I did a singable English translation of “Santana Carabao.” The next Carabao album that would come out, สวัสดีประเทศไทย Sawadee Prathet Thai (Hello Thailand!), has a Santana sound, as if the band was still riding the high of that experience on stage.

The second Carabao-Santana Jam: On February 29, 2016, Carabao again opened for Santana in Bangkok. This time the two bands met at sound check the night before and made a plan. Carlos Santana suggested that this time they do Carabao songs, and so they all practiced two Carabao songs together. At this point, a different sound engineer leaked to fans that this would be “an out of body experience” (if I remember correctly.) You can judge for yourself. On the night of the concert, he first song sung, was “Wanipok.” The official video cuts off in the middle of Add’s guitar solo, so here is my favorite video of that song that night, apparently taken by a fan who is also singing along:

The second song they did is “Yaai Samang.” Here is the official video:

The whole thing was perfect.