I was fortunate to spend this past weekend in Chicago, where Eric Clapton held his third Crossroads Guitar Festival on Saturday. The shows benefit Clapton’s Crossroads Centre, a rehab facility in Antigua, and they are a virtual who’s who of great guitar players. This year’s festival, at Toyota Park, featured performances by everyone from B.B. King and Buddy Guy, to Ron Wood, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck and Johnny Winter, to such relative newcomers as John Mayer, Johnny Lang and Citizen Cope.
Terry Stewart, the Rock Hall’s President and CEO, was also there, and we were able to spend time with some of our inductees, as well as with Larry Yellen, a filmmaker who works on our annual induction videos, and other folks from the music business.
The show always features one-of-a-kind performances, and some of my favorites this year included Robert Cray’s set with Jimmie Vaughan and Hubert Sumlin, ZZ Top’s take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and Buddy Guy’s performances with Ron Wood and Johnny Lang. John Mayer once again displayed his virtuosity on the guitar, backed by Pino Palladino on bass and Steve Jordan on drums, and Derek Truck and Susan Tedeschi – who filled in for the Allman Brothers, who could not make it due to Gregg Allman’s surgery – brought Warren Haynes, Johnny Winter and David Hildago and Cesar Rojas of Los Lobos onstage with them.
There was also an element of humor, as Bill Murray served as the day’s emcee. Dressed as Buddy Holly, he introduced ZZ Top as “three guys who never bought into that goatee crap,” and he was dressed as the King – yep, Elvis Presley – when he introduced John Mayer.
A terrific way to spend a day! And a night!