Venue: Fair Park and Cottonbowl Stadium
Country: United States
Day 3 of 3. The event, along with an auction of Eric Clapton’s guitars on 24 June 2004 in New York City, served as a fundraising endowment for Crossroads Centre Antigua, a drugs / alcohol rehabilitation clinic founded by Eric Clapton. Filmed for DVD, portions were also shown on television in the US on PBS. The entire concert was broadcast on the internet (audio only).
SMALL STAGE PERFORMERS / CLINICS AT FAIR PARK
Pickers Corner Clinic with Marty Stuart, James Burton, Doyle Dykes and Jedd Hughes
Roscoe Beck, Greg Koch and John Calarco Clinic
Mark Seal Clinic
COTTONBOWL STADIUM – concert started 11:50AM
Set 1: Neal Schon with Jonathan Cain (2 songs)
Band Lineup: Neal Schon (guitar), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), Randy Jackson (bass), Narada Michael Walden (drums)
Set List: Star Spangled Banner / Medley: Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Third Stone From The Sun – Everybody’s Everything – Amazing Grace
Set 2: Steve Vai (2 songs)
Band Lineup: Steve Vai (guitar), Dave Weiner (guitar), Tony MacAlpine (keyboards), Billy Sheehan (bass), Jeremy Colson (drums)
Set List: Whispering A Prayer / Get The Hell Outta Here
Set 3: Michael Kelsey (1 song) – Guitarmageddon Winner
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Unknown
Set 4: Sonny Landreth (4 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Instrumental #1 / Got The Blues Today / Instrumental #2 / Instrumental #3
Set 5: Larry Carlton (6 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Ambience / Friday Night Shuffle / Josie / Sapphire Blue / Slightly Dirty / A Pair Of Kings
Set 6: Pat Metheny Trio (3 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Into The Dream / So May It Secretly Begin / Question And Answer
Set 7: John McLaughlin (2 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Tones For Elvin Jones / You Know You Know
Set 8: Robert Cray Band (5 songs)
Band Lineup: Uknown
Set List: Our Last Time / Right Next Door / Survivor / Time Will Tell / Smoking Gun
Set 9: Jimmie Vaughan and The Tilt-A-Whirl Band (4 songs)
Band Lineup: Uknown
Set List: Dirty Girl / Motor Head Baby / Texas Flood / Ooo Wee Baby
Set 10: Hubert Sumlin with David Johnannsen and Jimmie Vaughan and The Tilt-A-Whirl Band (5 songs)
Band Lineup: Uknown
Set List: Shake For Me / Built For Comfort / Evil / 300 Pounds Of Joy / Killing Floor
Set 11: Booker T and The MGs (3 songs)
Band Lineup: Uknown
Set List: Hip Hug Her / Green Onions / Time Is Tight
Set 12: Bo Diddley with Booker T and The MGs (3 songs)
Band Lineup: Uknown
Set List: Bo Diddley / I’m A Man / Who Do You Love
Set 13: David Hidalgo with Booker T. and The MGs (4 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Someday / Down On The Riverbed / Just A Man / The Neighborhood
Set 14: Joe Walsh with Booker T. and The MGs (4 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Walk Away / Twelve Bar Blues Jam / Funk #49 / Rocky Mountain Way
Set 15: Vince Gill with Jerry Douglas (5 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: One More Last Chance / Oklahoma Borderline / What The Cowgirls Do / Nothing Like A Woman / Liza Jane
Set 16: James Taylor (6 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Something In The Way She Moves / Copperline / October Road / Carolina On My Mind / Steamroller / Sweet Baby James
Set 17: Blues Jam – B.B. King with Jimmie Vaughan and The Tilt-A-Whirl Band and Guests (8 songs)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Every Day I Have The Blues / Jam / Key To The Highway (featuring Eric Clapton) / Three O’Clock Blues (featuring Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy) / Rock Me Baby (featuring Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy) / Jam Session (featuring Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, John Mayer) / Every Day I Have The Blues Reprise (featuring Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, John Mayer) / Five Long Years (featuring Buddy Guy)
Set 18: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (1 song)
Band Lineup: Unknown
Set List: Unknown
Set 19: Santana (8 songs)
Band Lineup: Carlos Santana (guitar), Chester Thompson (keyboards), Dennis Chambers (drums), Benny Rietveld (bass), Karl Perazzo (timbales, percussion)
Set List: Venus / Upper Egypt / Nomad (with Rene Martinez) / Victory Has Won / Incident At Neshabur / Sonny Sharrock / Jingo (with Eric Clapton)
Set 20: Eric Clapton & His Band with special guest Jeff Beck (12 songs)
Band Lineup: Eric Clapton (guitar / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / vocals), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Billy Preston (keyboards / vocals), Nathan East (bass / vocals), Steve Gadd (drums), Sharon White (backing vocals), Michelle John (backing vocals), Jeff Beck (guitar)
Set List: Me And The Devil Blues / They’re Red Hot / Milkcow’s Calf Blues / If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day / Kind Hearted Woman / I Shot The Sheriff / Have You Ever Loved A Woman / Badge / Wonderful Tonight / Layla / Cocaine / ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (with Jeff Beck)
Set 21: ZZ Top (8 songs)
Band Lineup: Billy Gibbons (guitar / vocals), Joseph “Dusty” Hill (bass / vocals), Frank Beard (drums)
Set List: Gimme All Your Lovin’ / I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide / I Love The Woman / Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers / Sharp Dressed Man / Legs / La Grange / Tush
With apologies for the delay in reporting, caused by a combination of jet-lag and party hangover, the WE! team presents its potted summary of the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas. To put it in simple terms, this was an awesome event of huge magnitude and importance.
On the Friday, music lovers were able to wander freely around the vintage guitar exhibition, set up in an aircraft hanger size building, trawl around the manufacturers’ stalls in an adjacent hanger, play on all manner of equipment, attend guitar clinics, view a selection of the best Christie’s EC auction guitars and collect a wide array of promotional swag. Eric made an early appearance at the festival, mingling with the crowd for the Honey Boy Edwards, Robert Lockwood Jr, Duke Robillard blues jam on a small inside stage.
Eric was very high profile throughout the Saturday. Having sound-checked at lunch time on a few Robert Johnson songs plus Badge (a stadium song if ever there was one), in the huge Cotton Bowl stadium as the temperatures soared, he then watched from the side of the main Fair Park stage the sets of Eric Johnson, Dan Tyminski and Doyle Bramhall II before getting up and joining JJ Cale for his entire set – After Midnight, Cocaine, Call me the Breeze, Travellin Light, you got them all and more. He then joined the all star blues jam of Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph and Hubert Sumlin to send folks home with big grins on their faces.
On Sunday in the Cotton Bowl it was hero after hero as Neil Schon, Sonny Landreth, Larry Carlton, Pat Metheney, Robert Cray, Booker T and the MGs, Joe Walsh….need we carry on, blew the 40,000 crowd away. Eric came on for a loose jam with BB King, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and John Mayer, jammed on Jingo with Santana, Cause We Ended As Lovers with Jeff Beck (oh joy, oh bliss) raised the roof (sic) with his own abridged set of rock and blues classics, wisely retaining the services of his red hot European touring band, before ZZ Top topped and tailed the evening before local storms blew in.
A full, detailed report, including a 4 page full colour spread will feature in the next issue of Where’s Eric!
Concert review by T-Bone Erickson
You don’t have to be a guitar player to appreciate the enormity and importance of the event that I was privileged to attend this last Sunday, June 6 at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park – Dallas, Texas. However, if you are a guitar player, such as myself, you might be tempted to declare this event as the ultimate musical event of a lifetime. I think so myself, anyway.
The Crossroads Guitar Festival was actually a three-day event. The first night featured a performance by Duke Robillard, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Honeyboy Edwards together on the Sirius Stage inside the Main Exhibit area in Centennial Hall. Guitar freaks and aficionados could also peruse the gigantic vintage guitar show in the Automobile Building, in addition to the many vendor exhibits in Centennial Hall. There was also the jaw-dropping display of guitars that are up for auction to raise money for Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Rehabilitation Center in Antigua.
There was a long series of live performances on Saturday at the Guitar Village Main Stage outside on the Esplanade between the two exhibit buildings, culminating with an all-star jam featuring Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Randolph. There will be more about Friday and Saturday nights’ festivities in next week’s BluesWax, but for now you can read all about the incredible showcase of talent that played on Sunday at the Cotton Bowl.
It was a typically warm summer day in Dallas, mostly sunny and a bit humid, but certainly tolerable for those of us that can’t get enough of the tunes from the planet’s top talents. There were two stages setup side-by-side at one end of the Cotton Bowl to eliminate any long delays between acts, so things ran fairly smooth throughout.
Things began around noon with a soaring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain. Their backing band included Randy Jackson on bass. Yes, the same Randy Jackson that helps judge “The American Idol” TV show. Schon, certainly one of the finest guitarists around, also led the band through a blazing version on Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
Next up, was the guitar shredder’s shredder – Steve Vai. He had his equivalent on bass in the person of Billy Sheehan. If that wasn’t enough, Tony MacAlpine was also on hand to play both keys and rhythm guitar.
After the incredible fiery fret fireworks from Vai, the winner of the Guitarmageddon contest on Saturday – Michael Kelsey – did not appear too intimidated and demonstrated why he was the absolute clear choice to deserve the honor. His “progressive aggressive acoustic guitar” playing is very unique and fresh in its rhythmic and percussive approach. You will certainly be hearing more from this amazing man.
Things got a little swampy on the adjacent stage when Louisiana’s slide master Sonny Landreth took us on a trip to the Deep South next with his impeccable tone, taste, and talent.
Larry Carlton was soon ready at the next stage and gave us a tasty helping from his new album, Sapphire Blue, the Jazzer’s new offering of Blues guitar, done slick and subtle. Complete with a four-man horn section, he also felt obligated to do his own instrumental version of “Josie,” the Steeley Dan tune that featured his guitar so prominently. The Jazz-oriented part of the concert continued with the classy style of Pat Metheny, with Christian McBride in the band on upright bass. This musical theme was extended by John McLaughlin, who came on next, performing a mostly hypnotic set of tunes, featuring the dynamic Dennis Chambers on drums.
All right, now it was Blues time in the Cotton Bowl! Talk about classy style – Robert Cray has more of that quality in his pinky finger than a lot of players have in their whole family tree. With his longtime collaborator Jim Pugh on keyboards, Cray gave us some sweetness, sadness, and sass with his set that included his big hit, “Right Next Door (Because Of Me),” from Strong Persuader.
Most of the performers only got about a half-hour to do their thing, so each put their best foot forward, especially when they had such enormous talent playing before and after them.
One of Dallas’ favorite sons (actually Oak Cliff, to be more specific) was up next and he laid it down with his ultra-cool panache as always. I’m talking about Stevie Ray’s brother, Jimmie Vaughan, and his band Tilt-A-Whirl. They opened with an instrumental written by Hammond B-3 player Bill Willis that had an infectious groove that swung hard and smooth. The rest of their set consisted of Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Motor Head Baby,” Larry Davis’ “Texas Flood” (covered by SRV), and Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner’s “Wee Baby Blues” that was covered by Jimmie’s old bandmate Doyle Bramhall as “Wee, Wee Baby.”
Then Jimmie’s band brought out Hubert Sumlin and David Johansen to do five songs from Hubert’s days with the great Howlin’ Wolf. It takes somebody with the balls of Johansen to try to pull off those tunes. He certainly growls and his Jaggerisms are kinda fun to watch, but I sure wish the mighty Wolf was still around. Of course, don’t we all…and we’d be celebrating his 94th birthday this very day if he were.
Now it was time for Booker T. & the MGs to do their own thing on three of their classics (“Hip Hug-Her,” “Green Onions,” and Time Is Tight”). Then they had the task of backing up Bo Diddley (on “Bo Diddley,” “I’m A Man,” and “Who Do You Love?”), Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, and then Joe Walsh. Walsh’s set was as manic as Hidalgo’s was somber.
Joe was his usual goofy self; after doing “Walk Away,” he answered the crowd’s repeated chants of “Joe!” with “What?” (“Joe!” “What?” “Joe!” “What?” “Joe!” “What?”) He decided to dedicate a song to all of those who never had a song dedicated to them, “What about those people?” he plaintively asked. Then he dug into a slow Blues, with some fine guitar interplay with Steve Cropper, with the song suddenly morphing into “Funk 49.”
Then Walsh informed the growing crowd that eventually would reach 40,000 strong, that, “If I had known that I would be singing this next song for the rest of my life, I would have wrote a different one. If you know the words, you can sing along. If you don’t, you can just yell. I do!” Sure enough, the obligatory “Rocky Mountain Way” came forth, to the delight of his die-hard fans.
A mid-concert change of pace and styles came next, as we got a dose of countrified picking from Vince Gill with special guest Jerry Douglas on Dobro. Douglas also played with James Taylor, who played some of his pleasant Folk/Pop numbers, but spiced things up with a heavier “Steamroller Blues,” with Joe Walsh returning to fire off some stinging licks.
The biggest stylistic departure from the norm was a short set from Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who gave us a lesson on how to play amazing slide on his unique guitar-like creation. Accompanied only by a tambla drummer, Bhatt mesmerized the crowd, who showed their appreciation with enthusiastic applause.
Now it was star time, as Jimmie Vaughan and his band returned to introduce Mr. B.B. King to the stage. The two sat down next to each other to duel on “Everyday I Have The Blues” before jamming on a shuffle and then a slow Blues. Then in his inimitable gracious style, B.B. introduced the man of the weekend – Eric Clapton – to join them, along with Buddy Guy. The legendary foursome sat in a row side-by-side and kept things loose and casual. After a version of “Rock Me Baby,” B.B. declared that two weeks ago he had a highlight of his life when he got to meet Swedish royalty, but at 78 years old, that, “Never in my life have I enjoyed a jam session in my life as much as today. This is the biggest highlight of my life.”
Then, about the time B.B. was wrapping up his portion of the show, John Mayer came out and joined them. After B.B. and Eric exited the stage, and the chairs were removed, John and Jimmie backed up Buddy on an entertaining “Five Long Years.”
By now, the concert was running about an hour behind schedule and darkness had crept in. This enhanced the ensuing set by Carlos Santana, as the colorful stage lights complemented his attire and the band’s storming, high-energy set, anchored by Dennis Chambers’ powerful drumming. Of course, E.C. couldn’t help joining his buddy Carlos for a rousing version of “Jingo.” They spurred each other on as the music swirled around them.
Eric wasn’t done as he came out next to sit down with Doyle Bramhall II and Nathan East to do “Me And The Devil Blues” from his new album Me And Mr. Johnson. The rest of the band, including Billy Preston on organ and Chris Stainton on piano, helped out on four more Robert Johnson tunes (“They’re Red Hot,” Milkcow’s Calf Blues,” “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day,” and “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”) before it was time to break out the old reliable. First up was “I Shot The Sheriff,” followed by a passionate “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” with excellent solos by Chris, Billy, and Doyle. The rest of Clapton’s set consisted of “Badge,” “Wonderful Tonight,” “Layla,” and “Cocaine.”
By now, with things running long and Mother Nature starting to make her presence felt with wind and threatening clouds, the much-anticipated pairing of Eric with Jeff Beck was short, but intense. They squared off on “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” and then the stage was cleared for that trio from Houston, Texas – ZZ Top. It was great to see Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill up close and personal, while Frank Beard thumped out the grooves on the eye-catching set of drums behind them. Since the drums were bedecked with artwork from their latest album, Mescalero, it would have been nice to have actually heard some of the killer tracks from that disc, but of course that wasn’t about to happen. Still, it was a treat, and when the raindrops actually started to spit down at us near the end of their set, and a member of the stage crew came out to confer with Gibbons, the Right Reverend shouted out in that unmistakable voice, “I don’t care about getting wet! We’re here now! Let’s get on with it!” much to the approval of the fans. They chugged through “La Grange” and “Tush” (with the reference to Dallas, Texas of course) before it was made clear that was going to be it – what everyone had been waiting for the most wasn’t going to happen. Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck were both scheduled to top off the night by coming out and joining ZZ, but the late hour (it was around midnight) and the impending storm prevented that unprecedented event from coming to pass.
Oh well, I was mighty grateful that the rain hadn’t ruined earlier a near-perfect twelve-hour bonanza of guitar-driven tunes that was as memorable as any show that I have ever seen. Eric really knows whom to call when he wants to put on a Texas-sized party. They all came a’runnin’ with git-tars in hand, ready and able to chase the Blues away.
Review by Cor van ‘t Holt
4 juni 2004
Eric Clapton appeared and watched the set with Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Lockwood jr. and Duke Robillard. Everybody was hoping he sits in and played, but he didn’t.
5 juni 2004
Eric Clapton came on in the set with J.J. Cale and played the whole set. Among other songs they played After Midnight, Cocaine and Travelin’ Light. All in the J.J. Cale way. At the end of the evening there was an all-star Blues Jam hosted by Eric Clapton with Buddy Guy, Robert Gray, Robert Randolph, Hubert Sumlin and Jimmie Vaughan.
6 juni 2004
Eric Clapton showed up in the set with B.B. King and Jimmie Vaughan, later Buddy Guy came in and almost at the end John Mayer joined them. This was not rehearsed, you notice while they were wondering what to play. They did a.o. Everyday I have the blues, Rock me baby. After B.B. and Eric Clapton left Buddy did one song together with Jimmie Vaughan and John Mayer, but it ended abruptly because of the timeschedule. Later Eric Clapton showed up with Carlos Santana.
After that he did his own set. They started with 6 Robert Johnson-songs; Early this morning, Me and the devil, If I Had Possession Over judgement Day, They’re Red Hot, Kind Hearted Woman, and Milkcow’s Calf Blues. After that I Shot The Sheriff, with the solo that was little less intence then I saw in Europe, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Badge, Layla, Wonderful Tonight, Cocaine. In the encore Jeff Beck joined the band and they did Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.
The end was a little disappointing, in the program was shown that Eric Clapton showed up with ZZ Top and Jeff Beck, but because of the weather that wasn’t happening. The whole festival was an amazing experience and probably one of a kind.
Review by Rod Nunley
The Crossroads Guitar Festival was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events you always wanted to attend. Living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I did. First, a note about the guitar show itself. As part of the show, Christie’s brought the most famous of the guitars to be auctioned at the end of June. It was a sensational display, because the instruments were not encased in glass, and you could get close enough to touch them (but there were guards to be sure you didn’t!). Blackie, the red ES-335, the gold-leaf “Monserrat” Strat, the Zemaitis guitar (which George Harrison used to record “My Sweet Lord”, according to the display), an 1865 acoustic, Steve Ray Vaughan’s “Lenny” Strat, Jimmie Vaughan’s custom double-neck Strat, the Townshend SG, and more. An incredible display by any measure.
Even the souvenirs were unique. All of the shirts, caps, the program, etc., were specially made for the Crossroads Guitar Festival. None of the artists’ regular stuff was on sale (that disappointed me, as I wanted EC’s regular tour program as well).
Now to the show, which featured NINE acts already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I missed the early acts (including Jimmie Vaughan’s own set), entering the Cotton Bowl to find Booker T. and the MGs on stage backing Bo Diddley on “Who Do You Love?”. They stayed to back up David Hidalgo (from Los Lobos; he was good, but that’s all), then Joe Walsh. Joe was the first act to really get the crowd wound up. He wore an impossibly bright lime-green Hawaiian shirt with brilliant yellow shoes and an aquamarine Stratocaster. He roared through “Walk Away”, “Funk #49”, and “Rocky Mountain Way”, the latter on what looked like a modified Rickenbacker 355.
Next up was Vince Gill, who played an excellent set, with some hot guitar on his part. But a country guy coming after several rock/blues sets seemed a bit out of place. Given the quality of his play, he deserved better scheduling.
After Gill was James Taylor, who practically apologized for being up there with an acoustic guitar. But he reminded us that he’s quite accomplished as a finger-picking folk guitarist. After three songs I didn’t recognize, he finished with fine renditions of “Carolina In My Mind”, “Steamroller Blues” (Joe Walsh returned to help on this one), and “Sweet Baby James”. Very nice.
At this point, Jimmie Vaughan and his band were supposed to back B. B. King for a set, then Buddy Guy for a set. It didn’t happen that way. What did happen was one of those things fans normally only dream of. In the middle of King’s third song, out walked Eric Clapton with guitar in hand. He just sat right down and joined in. Before the song was over, Guy had pulled up a chair of his own. Left-to-right, it was Guy, Vaughan, King, and Clapton. They finished the song at hand (sorry, I don’t recall what it was). What came next was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen.
These four engaged in a true jam session. Sure, there were plenty of hot licks on everybody’s part. But there were missed cues, false starts, guys getting lost, confusion over what to play next, ragged song endings, even King stopping the band in mid-song to switch to something else. This was a real, honest-to-goodness, backstage, after-hours jam session, the way one really is. Except that it took place in front of a stadium full of people. Unforgettable.
This jam lasted around half an hour. All four were clearly having great fun, laughing and joking, the talk occasionally being caught on-mike. Eric was in great form, easily the most fluid of the four. He switched the Crash-3 Strat to the front pickup and fattened the tone to give it some growl, but it removed none of the elegance of his playing. Buddy Guy is a hit-or-miss act. Either he’s great, or he goofs off. This time, he was on, with his familiar sinewy bends, and what was the longest sustained note I’ve ever heard (it approached a full minute). Jimmie Vaughan was the unsung hero. When nobody else was sure what to do, he directed the band and filled in leads while the others found their places.
B. B. King didn’t really play all that much. He mostly sang and directed traffic when Jimmie wasn’t. I wonder about his health; after all, he’s 78. He did have moments when he’d rip through some hot, short riffs, but it was as if he needed several minutes to recover before doing it again. His enjoyment of the session was clearly visible, though. At one point, he wrapped his arms around Jimmie and Eric, said they were his greatest friends, and declared this set his career highlight.
Toward the end of the jam, BB called John Mayer to join in. It was almost funny, as he sat down next to Buddy Guy. They let him solo a few times, and he did pretty well. But the kid looked like he just wanted to get through it without screwing up while surrounded by these blues giants.
The jam ended with BB leading the band through “Every Night I Have the Blues”, which he’d opened with. He left in mid-song, with Eric, while Buddy and Mayer wailed. Vaughan wrapped it up, and then Guy let loose one of the most attention-getting howls I’ve heard in launching a white-hot “Five Long Years”. It was short, but powerful. It was also the only song he did by himself. By this time, the show was running an hour late, and I had the impression that they’d instructed him to wrap it up. The rest of the acts, who were scheduled to do abbreviated sets anyway, seem to have cut back even more than planned. Texas has had a week of violent weather, and more was on the way. I don’t know if it was the weather or the unions, but I felt the subsequent sets were even shorter than scheduled.
While the stage was reset for Santana, there was another bad bit of scheduling. The time was filled by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, an Indian musician playing a homemade 35-string guitar. It was interesting, but a raga after that incredible blues jam just didn’t work. He should have been scheduled earlier in the day. Santana was the only real disappointment. Carlos’ opening to the first song was great, but he did almost nothing else right. He spent way too much time trying to do the Satriani/Vai 10,000-notes-per-second bit, and it, like them, became boring. His playing was unusually noisy (for him). He toned down the Latin flavor of his music, which is what makes him most interesting. He made a stupid political comment that angered the Texas crowd, and was booed for it. He played none of his best-known songs, with only one exception. His closer was a modified version of “Jingo”, on which he was joined by EC. Eric played two of the hottest solos I’ve ever heard from anybody. It was the only thing that kept the set from being a complete disaster.
Now we come to Eric Clapton. Like everyone else’s, his set was abbreviated. He opened with “Me and the Devil Blues” and “They’re Red Hot”. On these songs, he played a black Martin acoustic (a 000-28? I couldn’t tell for certain), Doyle Bramhall II played a Dobro, and Nathan East played an acoustic bass. All three were seated. Eric was dressed for the Texas weather, in a loose sky blue shirt, baggy shorts, and sandals. He then addressed the crowd, gracefully thanking the other acts, and saying softly, “I wrote to everyone I wanted to hear play. And they all came.” He said it as if he was genuinely surprised they all came. The crowd response seemed to say back to him, “Of course they did, because it’s you who’s asking”. Eric can be distant when addressing an audience, but at this moment, the fans and Eric connected emotionally like I’ve never seen in decades of going to his shows.
Next came “Milkcow’s Calf Blues” and “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day”. For these, EC switched to a dark green Strat tuned for slide, and DB2 played what looked like a red Melody Maker, also tuned for slide. Then came “Kind-Hearted Woman”, with Eric playing the Crash-3 Strat from this point on. DB2 went to a sunburst Strat at this point. After this song, the chairs were removed, and the guys stood up for “I Shot the Sheriff”.
Back to blues, for “Have You Ever Loved a Woman?”. DB2 has been getting rave reviews for his playing on this song, but he was oddly tentative for much of the evening, including this song. No matter. Eric more than took up the slack, finishing it with a flourish that recalled the ending to “Sitting On Top of the World” on “Goodbye”. Poor EC; he was sopping wet with sweat by this time, so while Doyle soloed, Eric got a towel and dried off his face and hands.
From here they moved into the “hits” section. DB2 perked up with some great choppy chords in “Badge”. The entire band was red hot on this one. Eric did a pretty short solo on the bridge, and the reprise was also a bit short, but very much to the point. No wasted effort here.
I was worn out on “Wonderful Tonight” a long time ago. The best thing here was that he kept it short, just like the “Slowhand” version.
Eric began “Layla” with no prelude; he went straight to the signature riff. The first section was the closest I’ve heard to reproducing the recorded version. DB2 finally stepped up a notch playing the riffs during the verses while Eric sang. Eric played another short-but-sweet solo, and it was on to the second section. Doyle got tentative again, as his slides frequently didn’t mesh with what Eric was playing at all. Eric led the band through to the end, and then straight into “Cocaine”.
“Cocaine” was as hot as anything played all day/night. Eric’s playing at times was as reminiscent of his Cream style as I’ve heard since those days. Doyle finally caught fire, and the two blazed away while the band roared behind them. That was the end of EC’s set. There was no encore, no “Sunshine”. Regarding the band, they were tight and on-target the entire set. Unlike on the “Reptile” tour, Billy Preston was given plenty to do, and he was absolutely brilliant. Eric shouldn’t play another note without this guy in the band. Chris Stainton and Nathan East were solid as ever. Nothing fancy, just supplying exactly what the music needed. Steve Gadd (who’d backed James Taylor earlier) played aggresively, and didn’t miss a thing. The backup singers were superfluous, though. Nobody would have missed them.
After a short break of a minute or so, out came Jeff Beck to join the band. He played “‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”, which was a real highlight for me. Eric took a graceful solo in mid-song, but this was Beck’s showcase, and he didn’t disappoint. However, it was his only song, a clear sign that they were trying to get the show over with.
The last act was ZZ Top, who, like Eric, began their tour with this show. They played a greatest-hits set, starting with “Give Me All Your Lovin'”. If anybody ever doubted the importance of Dusty Hill’s bass to the overall sound, this set would have straigtened them out. ZZ often uses a lot of MIDI in their show, but it was at a bare minimum on this night. The was the Little Old Band from Texas rocking out as a pure power trio. They brought out the furry instruments for “Legs”, but for everything else Billy Gibbons played that red irregularly-shaped Gretsch that Bo Diddley gave him. Dusty Hill played a custom bass built roughly in an upside-down Strat shape. They rocked their way through “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”, “Sharp-Dressed Man”, and a couple of others. It began to rain intermittently during “La Grange”, but Gibbons declared they’d press on, and promptly launched into the song again. They finished with a version of “Tush” that out-thundered the weather.
The show was supposed to finish with Eric and Beck joining ZZ Top for a final blues jam, but it didn’t happen. By this time severe weather was literally on the horizon, so when ZZ finished, that was it. No fanfare, no closing remarks, nothing. The skies cheated us out of it, as it began to rain steadily, and a spectacular lightning show ensued. But that’s actually a small complaint. It was an unforgettable experience, and the performers acted like they thought so, too. Spirits were uniformly high, and everybody played like they were having the times of their lives. I’ll never forget it.
One further note. The entire show was recorded “for television”, according to signs at the entrances. I don’t know how they’ll decide to edit it for DVD, but whatever it looks like, it’ll be well worth the price.
Review by Scott T. Brown
I attended the Crossroads Festival last Saturday and Sunday with my 19 year old son, my two brothers and my sister-in-law. To cut to the chase, we had a fabulous time! Highlights on Saturday included a Styx cover of “I am the Walrus”, Doyle Bramhall II, John Mayer and Robert Randolph. But the real highlight was seeing J J Cale with Clapton guesting throughout the set, and of course the Blues jam. My son and I were within 30 feet of the stage during Cales’ set and the jam. It was astonishing seeing Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, Jimmie Vaughn and of course Clapton jamming and having such a great time. Other than Clapton, I had never seen any of these people live, so it was a real treat.
Sunday’s performances were equally good. The highlights were Joe Walsh, B B King and Clapton. Although B B strayed a little during an impromptu jam with Vaughn, Guy , Mayer and Clapton, it was truly memorable, particularly when you consider King’s and Guy’s age, and the likelihood it may never happen again. Clapton’s set was shortened due to overruns and weather threats, but oh what a set. Each time I have seen Clapton I’ve left the concert feeling I had seen the greatest guitarist ever. Sunday was no exception. The solo on “I Shot the Sheriff” was unbelievable! But there was no let down. “Have You ever Loved a Woman”,”Badge”, and “Cocaine” were equally outstanding. And this performance of “Layla”, with Bramhall backing, was the best live version of “Layla” I have ever seen, including video. To top it off, Clapton’s guitar duet with Jeff Beck was another obvious highlight. The only downer was the heat in the stadium during the day, and no Clapton, Beck, Z Z Top finale due to an approaching electrical storm. But hey, after seeing these performances, particularly Clapton absolutely cut loose, how can you complain. You should have been there!