Written by General Jabbo
In 1998, after many years of dealing with his own drug and alcohol addictions, Eric Clapton founded the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, West Indies. In an effort to raise money for the facility, Clapton held a benefit concert – the Crossroads Guitar Festival – in Chicago last July. This two-DVD set features four hours of highlights from the all-day event.
Emceed by Bill Murray, Crossroads is a who's who of guitar greats from elder statesmen such as B.B. King and Buddy Guy to young axe-slingers such as Derek Trucks and Robert Randolph. Murray opened the show with a solo version of the only song he knew how to play on guitar, "Gloria." As Murray struggled along, Clapton watched from the side of the stage, puzzled, until he decided to join in on the song. Clapton later said if Murray "really knew how to play guitar, we'd all be in trouble."
Up next was Sonny Landreth, with his instrumental, "Uberesso," featuring many fast picking runs and a lot of excellent slide playing. Clapton joined Landreth onstage for "Hell at Home."
Jazz-fusion legend, John McLaughlin took the stage with an inspired version of "Maharina," while occasional Clapton band member, Doyle Bramhall II, dedicated his version of "Outside Woman Blues" to Clapton. Bramhall's arrangement stuck very close to the one Clapton used when he was in Cream.
The Derek Trucks Band did a set of their own material and also backed the likes of Susan Tedeschi and Johnny Winter, the latter turning in a searing version of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited."
Robert Randolph, played a blistering version of "Nobodysoul" that had the whole crowd rocking. He plays the pedal steel guitar, an instrument usually associated with country music, more like Jimi Hendrix would.
Blues legend B.B. King joined the Robert Cray Band, as well as Jimmy Vaughan and Hubert Sumlin for "Paying the Cost to be the Boss" and "Rock Me Baby," with King playing his signature licks on his trademark "Lucille" guitar.
Vince Gill represented the coutry portion of the set and sang alone, as well as with Albert Lee, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, and Willie Nelson with Clapton's "Tulsa Time" and Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" as highlights.
John Mayer dedicated "Every note from his guitar" to B.B. King, While Los Lobos played a rocking version of "Don't Worry Baby."
Up next was Jeff Beck with an incredible version of "Cause We've Ended as Lovers" with 21-year-old Tal Wilkenfeld on bass. She wowed both Beck and the audience with her nimble playing and pushed the guitar legend to give his best performance.
Clapton dedicated George Harrison's "Isn't it a Pity" to the late Beatle and his performance showed how much Clapton misses his longtime friend to this day. After a version of "Who Do You Love?" with Robbie Robertson, Clapton called to the stage Steve Winwood, his old bandmate in Blind Faith, for a mini reunion. In what was easily the biggest highlight of the night, the pair played inspired versions of "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Presence of the Lord," as well as "Crossroads." Winwood's voice sounded great and he stood out on both keyboards and guitar.
Chicago favorite Buddy Guy followed them with "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Damn Right I've Got the Blues" before joinging Clapton, Cray, Mayer, Sumlin, Vaughan, and Winter for an all-star jam on the blues standard "Sweet Home Chicago" – a fitting way to end the show.
The DVD has standard stereo as well as DTS 5.1 audio and includes highlights from the Crossroads Village Stage – a second stage featuring more guitar heroes.
Crossroads was an all-day festival and would have needed several more discs to include all the performances. Still, Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007 is a good representation of a great day of music for a worthy cause.