Band Leader / Lead Guitar
Benito was born in Mexico City. At the age of 13 he was inspired by the music of the British Invasion.
He ultimately became a self-taught guitarist, forming his first Rock & Roll band that same year.
His talent was recognized by a junior high school music teacher who requested that he lead the guitar ensemble of the all-string instruments band known in Mexico as “Estudiantina”.
They recorded local traditional songs at the ORFEON Records Studio.
He went on to study at ESCUELA LIBRE DE MUSICA and joined a friend, a multi-talented musician, to establish several bands together, playing Rock and Top 40 music throughout central Mexico.
In the late ‘70s, Benito emigrated from Mexico to the United States to expand his musical opportunities. Starting in Austin, Texas, he was soon invited to Dallas to record original Tex-Mex music. Benito continued playing with several Rock Bands in Texas while working as a guitar instructor for The Music House of Richardson.
He later moved to San Diego, California and continued as a lead guitarist for New Wave, Blues, Classic Rock, Jazz Fusion, and Tribute Bands. Friends and fans repeatedly commented on Benito’s uncanny similarities to the great Carlos Santana in appearance, playing style and sound, helping make this the TRUE Carlos Santana Tribute Show. That inspired him to start a Santana Tribute Band.
With the help from these talented musicians, “Santanaways” was born in October of 2012. Within a month they had their first public appearance at a local fundraiser. Their shows have captivated audiences with each performance ever since. The caliber of the assembled musicians along with their precise interpretations of the music makes this the #1 Carlos Santana Tribute Show in the U.S. today!
Lead Vocals / Keyboards
Ray is a San Diego native and founding member of “Santanaways”. Coming from a diverse background in music, Ray has molded both his vocal talents and keyboards over many years, with a collection of San Diego’s finest bands. His roots in music include Classical, Rock, Southern Rock, Country and Jazz.
Ray has recorded and performed live in many venues from Classical Recitals, National Radio, Commercials, Casinos, Club and Concert events. Notable bands were Windfall, Serjn, The Clue, Cracker, Chain Reaction, Petty Breakers, Caliber and now the Santana Tribute Show. His leadership, along with his clean, crisp melodic sounds on his keyboards makes Ray a natural fit to play Santana’s soulful music.
Bass / Guitar / Piano / Vocals
Born in San Diego, California, Barry is a well accomplished multi-instrumentalist and entrepreneur.
He began playing piano at the age of 8, which led him into playing bass and guitar by the time he was 15 years old.
He has studied music at UCSD and continues to expand his musical vocabulary and his note for note attention to detail to Carlos Santana’s music.
As a past member of the popular Southern Californian Ska band N-E-1, their single “1-2-3” hit the top 100 playlist in 1983 and he produced and released three album length recordings as well. Barry has played in many of the well-known clubs in Southern California and has recorded in some of the top studios as well.
Barry also is a founding member of “Santanaways” since 2012. With his smooth style that can be heard with every note, he continues to drive “Santanaways” to be the #1 show in the business paying tribute to Santana’s music. His smile is pretty infectious too!
Matt Gittelson, a Sabian Cymbals and Vater Percussion sponsored artist, is a drummer of over 30 years experience. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Matt is a graduate of Musicians Institutes Percussion Institute of Technology (P.I.T.) and has a Bachelors Degree from Cal Poly SLO.
A studio professional and accomplished performer, Matt is a veteran of the stage, and no stranger to the road. His credits include performances / recordings with Jon Anderson of Yes, award winning songwriter / performer Maia Sharp, ‘The Voice’ 2018 finalist Pryor Baird, and The Paul Cannon Band to name just a few. A powerful, dynamic and crafty drummer, Matt sites Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro, Manu Katche and John Bonham as some of his influences.
An educator since 1989, Matt currently teaches and performs full-time in the San Diego area.
Sign up for Drum Lessons here: North County Drum Lessons
Congas / Percussion
Michael Bento was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Michael was absorbed in the Heart and Soul of the 1960's & 70's when Latin Music was big and prominent.
You can tell from Michael's signature Congero licks that he was definitely influenced by the artists of the day that resided in New York City.
"My name is Michael Bento and I have been playing percussion all my life. The beat of my heart has always been the foundation of all the rhythms I play. I have been taught by the roof tops, parks and house parties of my beloved Nueva York, 'Que Viva DA’ Bronx'. My story is not all that different than the greats of today. Music all around and trying to create positive vibes in the midst of despair. I have played with the best and I have and I am for ever learning the beautiful and powerful langue of the drum. ECUE! To my Ancestors! MOFORIBALE! Maferefun!“
Charlie Chavez, a Remo and Tycoon sponsored artist, is a virtuoso percussionist, bandleader and dedicated educator. He was born in Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico and grew up in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. He studied percussion, piano and trombone at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Xalapa in Veracruz, and since then has toured Europe and the United States with Lila Downs and Maldita Vecindad.
He has performed and shared the stage with some of Jazz and Latin music’s greatest artists including Poncho Sanchez, Charles McPherson, Gary Burton, Chuchito Valdez, Raul Pineda, The Spanish Harlem Orquesta, Denise De Kalafe, Iraida Noriega, Israel Varela, the Celia Cruz Salsa Orquestra from Los Angeles, and Paquito D’Rivera in Boston.
When not performing, Charlie is instructing the next generation of Latin percussion players. He has led percussion clinics in México City, Humboldt University in California and Berklee School of Music in Boston, and his weekly classes meet in Tijuana and in San Diego.
More information on Charlie Chavez ....... also, en Español
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