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Eric Clapton – Crossroads Guitar Festival
by Zane Ewton

The Crossroads Guitar Festival is more than an Eric Clapton concert DVD; it is a celebration of all things guitar.  The festival was filmed over a weekend in June of 2004 and features some of the best known and even some lesser known, yet still outstanding, guitar players in blues, folk, rock and anything else that can be plucked on 6 strings.

The performances are awesome, and the guitar solos seem to be flying from every corner of the stage.  It is almost guitar overload.  The DVD has a few extras tacked on, including the option to view only the solos and several interviews with some of the featured performers talking about influences and experiences.

The list of performers is endless and includes Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Johnson, James Taylor, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Walsh, John Mayer, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, Carlos Santana, ZZ Top and many more.

The two-disc set is compiled as the highlights of the three day festival.  They could have easily added 3 more discs just to give a better glimpse of all the players involved.  The tracks are not in chronological order, with Clapton’s performances scattered throughout the 35 tracks, including extended versions of “Cocaine” and “I Shot the Sheriff”.

The show relies heavily on the blues.  The blues guitarists’ performances are outstanding but many artists look dwarfed by the size of the stage in the Cotton Bowl Stadium.  The guitarists who brought along their whole band fit the massive venue better.  Steve Vai, whose band includes Billy Sheehan on bass and two other guitarists, performed his guitar aerobics and made bad guitar faces while energizing the crowd.

Joe Walsh brought along Booker T & the M.G.’s for “Rocky Mountain Way” and even quipped that if he would have known he would have to play that song for the rest of his life, he would have written something else.

ZZ Top closes the show with “La Grange” and “Tush” but suffer from sound problems, ending the show with an anticlimactic thud.  Those are just a few of the performances crammed onto these two discs.  Fans of any type of guitar will find something exciting in this collection, especially fans of blues, jazz, Indian music, rock, country and folk.

Hardcore guitar fans will be puzzled by the glaring omission of Jeff Beck, who appeared at the festival but disappeared from the DVD.  They may also question the inclusion of John Mayer, who may be the last person mentioned when a conversation about guitar players starts. 

While people who attended the show may find points of contention and argue for those performances that amazed the crowd but didn’t make it on the DVD, those of us who were unable to go will be pleased with the results.  

Eric Clapton – Crossroads Guitar Festival
Label: WEA

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