Tag Archives: Crossroads Guitar Festival

A True Guitar Festival – Crossroads Night One (4/12/13)

21 Apr

Eric Clapton Crossroads (DAVID HANDSCHUH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Within the first ten minutes of the first night of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, I turned to my buddy and exclaimed, well, “that was better than an encore. Do we go home now?” Behind the attempted humor, I was serious in my sentiments.To open the show, Eric Clapton and guests greeted an enthusiastic full house at Madison Square Garden with a five-song acoustic set that drifted and jived through Clapton staples like “Lay Down Sally” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Clapton invited artists like Vince Gill and Andy Fairweather Low on stage, the latter of which sang tremendous lead vocals on his song “Spider Jivin” – the second song of the night. Clapton began the concert with “Driftin.” In the middle of his opening set, Clapton performed “Tears in Heaven,” which he has unearthed for his 50th Anniversary Tour. The song, written in response to the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, is as potent as it is simple. Because of its subject, Clapton rarely plays it (last time before this tour was in 2003). Hearing him perform the song live was well worth the price of admission.

At the helm of the show was emcee and original Blues Brother, Dan Akroyd, who introduced artists and, prior to the concluding set by the Allman Brothers, performed a rousing version of “Got My Mojo Working” with Keb ‘Mo. In reviewing my notes from the show – and recalling my euphoric loquaciousness during/after the show, I realize now that despite my pre-show expectation to see a slew of revered guitar gods, I couldn’t quite grasp how overwhelming and ethereal the concert would be. Perhaps the “kid in a candy store” axiom might suffice in describing the crowd’s zeal, but I believe it may be a little weak. There was an infectious gregariousness to the crowd; this wonderful atmosphere of musical passion and friendship. It was as if the guitar community was coming together for a convention, a mind-blowing convention.

Let’s face it; the entire five-hour concert was a highlight. It was a virtual all-star game of guitarists. I intended on marking down some highlights of the night, but I ended up typing furiously on my cell phone (and then my friend’s cell phone after my battery depleted) just to keep up with the plethora of highlights. For your reading pleasure, I have narrowed down my thumb-tiring list of typed highlights to just three major performances during the show. Before I get to the top three of the night (not counting the Clapton solo set I mentioned above), let me commend Booker T and Steve Cropper for their set (the first after Clapton’s acoustic opener). Paired with Blake Mills, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Keb Mo, Booker T and the NEW MG’s played a five-song set (concluding with “Green Onions) that featured a strong version of “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

Now on to the top 3…

3.) “Everyday I Have the Blues” with Robert Cray, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughn & Eric Clapton

Blues royalty. Yeah, something like that. B.B. King, who is in possession of a personal fountain of youth, was electric for the few songs he sat in on. I particularly like this performance because it highlights the spirit of the festival. As these legends (King, Cray, Vaughn, and Clapton) playfully swapped and stole solos from each other, the crowd could almost smell the aroma of blues – which to me is a mixture of hard scotch and worn guitar strings. This jam is about as authentic as you can get. It is the blues. Strip away the stage, crowd, and allure, and there would still be four individuals playing the blues.

2.) “Don’t Let me Down” with John Mayer and Keith Urban

After a small set of original pieces, John Mayer summoned Keith Urban onto stage to complete a guitar duo for an electric performance of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let me Down.” There are so many things to like about this performance. A.) It’s an awesome cover of a Beatles’ song. B.) John Mayer and Keith Urban can flat-out kill it on the guitar. C.) They also can sing pretty damn well. D.) If you listen closely, the band adds several interesting influences into the song (country hints mixed with traditional blues). E.) Go to the 3:00 minute mark, refer back to B, and enjoy.

1.) “Whipping Post” with The Allman Brothers Band

12 minutes of pure, unadulterated, brilliance. Watching the Allman Brothers Band is always a treat, but they brought it to a completely different level for this concluding performance at Crossroads. The solos were that much more inspired, and the band played with some extra fire and oomph that propelled the song to the apex of awesome. Listening to the jam-packed crowd, five hours into the concert, belt out the familiar lyrics like it was the opening song was also spectacular.

Legendary show! And, all for a good cause.

Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 – TONIGHT!

12 Apr

eric-clapton-crossroads

 

One of my students recently celebrated a birthday. The day before her birthday was the “day of anticipation.” I thought that was an elegant way to describe her excitement, and, with all the credit to her, I will now sample the phrase and admit that this moment is of potent anticipation. In less than five hours, I will be among a full crowd of music lovers for Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 at Madison Square Garden.

As I wrote back in November, my buddy Josh and I have envied those who attended past Crossroads festivals (watching videos of the ethereal artist combinations) since Clapton first started this charity concert. Now, finally, we will attend (the concert is in our backyard, so to speak). While I have seen Clapton three times, I am assured that tonight will be a different experience. The line-up is freakishly good. The concert, which will run for 4.5 hours, will be the best representation of musical firmament. As you can tell by my effusive excitement, I am ready for this show.

It is also wonderful to be supporting Clapton’s Crossroads Centre in Antigua. Clapton was once afflicted with addiction, and the Crossroads Centre was founded in 1998 to provide treatment to addicted individuals. The festival proceeds tonight support the centre.

You can follow the Crossroads Social Media feed on Facebook and Twitter. If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the show (it was a harrowing experience, trust me), ENJOY! I will be there rocking out from my seat.

Be sure to expect a review of the show in the coming days.

 

Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 is Coming to NYC

27 Nov

In Middle/High school, my friend Josh and I were firmly in the musical minority. While the musical tastes of others impulsively changed with the charts, we were staunch in our love for classic Blues. That love was engendered by Eric Clapton. As teens, we created a “Clapton is God” AOL blog page expressing our adoration for the guitar legend. It was crudely done, but the purpose was clear. While others looked up to Eminem, we looked up to Eric Clapton.

Clapton has always represented a prodigious musical skill that transcends music itself. Not many musicians can transform from musician to icon, and those that do are often outspoken and flashy. With the power of a remarkably proficient playing style and a granular, experienced voice, Clapton has shaped and transformed the Blues. He has carried the torch of his inspirations to a new generation of music lovers and players. Heck, when Josh first learned guitar he immediately explored hammer-ons and pull-offs because of the seminal opening riff of “Layla.”

Thus, when Josh and I have the opportunity to see Eric Clapton, we do. We are only in our early 20s, though, so we have seen Clapton three times (we are lucky that we are located in a concert hub like New York). Soon we will add a fourth concert to the list, and, wow, what a concert it will be.

I will say I am not sure any concert can trump the Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood show at the Izod Center (6/10/09). That concert also sparked my first review for the Music Court (can be accessed there).

The Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 is coming to Madison Square Garden in April of 2013. Oddly enough, the first night of the two-night event falls on April 12, my friend Josh’s birthday. Quite a present, indeed. The Crossroads Guitar Festival is a triennial musical festival and benefit concert that features a hand-picked line-up of guitarists at Clapton’s discretion – so you can be assured it will be epic. The line-up has transformed since the first show in 2004. In 2010, the Festival was held in Chicago (also held in Illinois in 2007), and many of the artists that appeared in the 2010 show will perform at MSG in April.

The full list of performers (brace yourself) is:

  • Jeff Beck
  • Dave Biller
  • Booker T
  • Doyle Bramhall II
  • Allman Brothers Band
  • Gary Clark Jr.
  • Eric Clapton
  • Citizen Cope
  • Robert Cray
  • Andy Fairweather Low
  • Vince Gill
  • John Mayer
  • Blake Mills
  • Keb Mo
  • Brad Paisley
  • Robert Randolph
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Robbie Robertson
  • John Scofield
  • Keith Urban
  • Jimmy Vaughan
  • Buddy Guy
  • Allan Holdsworth
  • BB King
  • Earl Klugh
  • Sonny Landreth
  • Jonny Lang
  • Albert Lee
  • Los Lobos
  • Taj Mahal

Where do I begin? Seriously, it is like Thanksgiving dinner. There is turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato, and you just don’t know where to start. Luckily, the MSG stage will serve as a large plate and the audience will be able to feast their eyes AND ears on the music of these great musicians. Some artists serve obvious excitement. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, and Albert Lee are legends. The Allman Brothers Band will make their first appearance at the Festival, and that has serious blow-your-socks off potential. Can I please ask for a rendition of “Layla” with Derek Trucks reprising Duane Allman’s role on slide guitar? I am also excited to see rising star Gary Clark Jr. play upon his Jimi Hendrix influence. I can just keep on saying I am also because I am excited about all acts.

It should be noted that all acts will NOT appear on both nights. With the amount of talent present, though, you will listen to something great! You will also be supporting a worthy cause. The Crossroads Centre, Antigua, was founded in 1998 to provide treatment to addicted individuals. As Clapton was once afflicted with addiction, this is a personal cause.

For those with tickets to the show, there will be free admission to a “Guitar Center Road to Crossroads Exhibition” which will feature a diverse display of guitar-related memorabilia including the “Legends Guitar Walk,” which will display some of the most expensive guitars in history. It’s like a mini Rock n’ Roll Hall-of-Fame exhibit on the Terrace Level of MSG. The exhibit opens at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12 and 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

Like the Guitar Fest on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.

TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets go on sale to the public this Friday (11/30) at Noon EST. They can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com. I will be on Ticketmaster frantically refreshing the page for tickets at 11:55 a.m.! See you there.

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