Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007 Review
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Blues and rock guitar legends, with a few country and jazz artists mixed in, congregated in the Chicago area to celebrate music on July 28, 2007. This concert was to benefit the Crossroads Centre, Antigua—a treatment center for drug, alcohol, and other addictive disorders, which was founded by Eric Clapton. Luckily for us, these memorable performances were captured on a two-disc DVD entitled Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007—the royalties from which will also benefit the Crossroads Centre in Antigua.

B.B. King, along with Chicago blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Buddy Guy, aren’t the only highlights. A now somewhat feeble Johnny Winter delivers a knockout performance on “Highway 61 Revisited,” and Jimmie Vaughan (Stevie Ray’s older brother and former member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds) belts out the blues on his Stratocaster with “Dirty Work at the Crossroads.” Jeff Beck soothes the crowd with his jazz guitar on “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers.” However, he has strong help from the 21-year-old female electric bass guitarist, Tal Wilkenfeld. In fact, along with Wilkenfeld, the younger musicians—guitarists Derek Trucks and John Mayer—deliver the most gripping performances of the show. Along with Trucks’s band, the Robert Cray Band solidly backs the solo artists. Comedian Bill Murray is the MC—and, oh yes, Clapton himself plays with many of the guitarists.

  
 
Though Crossroads was basically a blues concert—celebrating Clapton’s first love and the backbone of his technique—other music styles also appear on the stage. “Tulsa Time,” a country classic, features Sheryl Crow with Eric Clapton, Vince Gill, and Albert Lee. Jazz fans will enjoy guitarist John McLaughlin’s “Maharina.” Los Lobos shakes the crowd with their Latin blues/rock, too—and it all seems to fit.

Still, the show isn’t without a few disappointments. Robbie Robertson (formerly of The Band) only appears once—and in a meager version of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” Willie Nelson delivers a dry, forgettable performance. Though Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton brought back the Blind Faith classics, “Presence of the Lord” and “Can’t Find My Way Home,” the momentum slows down with Winwood’s choice of Traffic tunes. Also, blues aficionados like me will wonder why more of the great Chicago blues artists who are alive and still live in the area didn’t appear in concert.

Though the show drags in spots, legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy pumps it back up. The DVD concludes with the classic—yes, you guessed it—“Sweet Home Chicago,” performed by Buddy Guy with Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, John Mayer, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan, and Johnny Winter. I’ve definitely heard better versions, but I enjoyed watching these guitarists bring their own flair to the song.

As can be expected, not everyone will appreciate every style and artist featured in the concert. However, the sound and visual qualities are superb, and the backstage conversations add history and context to the concert. And, in spite of its flaws, Crossroads 2007 is still a memorable DVD.

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