Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sandy Lake 'Santana' meets the real thing

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A GROUP from Sandy Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario presented Carlos Santana with a beaded medallion during a meeting with the guitarist prior to his Winnipeg concert Friday night.

Santana took the stage wearing the colourful medallion and wore it during the first several songs of his set.

How the group landed the meeting with the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer is the interesting part. Chief Bart Meekis, who led the Sandy Lake delegation, is a dead ringer for Santana and is often mistaken for the musician in his travels, said Willow Blasizzo, who works at the First Nation.

They let Santana's management team know, and the meeting was arranged for about an hour before the concert.

"They do look similar," said Blasizzo, who was at the meeting. "The hair is similar, the moustaches are similar. Both are the same height and the same build.

"Several people stopped for pictures after the meeting, thinking it was (Santana)," she added.

In addition to the medallion, Meekis, an artist, presented Santana with some of his artwork and a book Killing the Shamen, by Thomas Fidler and James R. Stevens, which details the 1907 murder trial of Jack Fidler. Blasizzo says the Fidler trial is an important moment in history for Sandy Lake, which is about 450 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

"We were trying to make some sort of connection with him," she said. "He's an extremely humble man. He was so appreciative of us being there to see him."

They were ecstatic when they saw Santana wearing the medallion onstage. "It showed he's a real, genuine guy."

-- Staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 12, 2014 C2

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