Crossroads Festival | 07.28 | Chicago

Words and Images by: Rod Snyder

Crossroads Festival :: 07.28.07 :: Toyota Center :: Bridgeview, IL

Crossroads Festival :: 07.28
There are moments when one suddenly realizes "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity." This was not one of them. What happened on July 28 in Bridgeview, IL has happened once before in Texas in 2004.

I'm referring to Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. The Crossroads Center is a rehabilitation center located in Antigua for substance abuse, something Clapton knows a little bit about. The proceeds from the festival go towards the funding of the center.

In June of 2004, the first Crossroads Festival was held over a couple days at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX and featured many of the greatest guitarists from the past and present. This year's festival was only one day but featured many of the same artists from the 2004 festival. It all got going promptly at 11:50 a.m. with special guest and emcee, Bill Murray. He started off by telling the crowd how we were in store for some great music, for a great cause. Then, with a Strat hanging by his side, he launched into "the only song I know how to play on guitar," Van Morrison's "Gloria." Murray was far from the caliber of say Clapton, Jeff Beck or Mr. Buddy Guy, but he gave it his all and pulled through, but then again, this wasn't meant to be taken seriously; he is a comedian after all. As he was nearing the end of the song he got a little help from one of his friends, Eric Clapton. They finished the song and Clapton talked about what was in store for the day.

John McLaughlin :: Crossroads :: 07.28
Sonny Landreth arrived to a sold out crowd at Toyota Park. He launched into his set and the crowd devoured it, eager to get the day underway. John McLaughlin came on next. His special blend of jazz-fusion complimented Landreth's set perfectly and set the stage for more big names.

Balancing the jazz rock with some bluegrass, Alison Krauss & Union Station took the stage as guitarist Jerry Douglas soothed what wounds were caused by the two preceding bands. Doyle Bramhall II was up next. The Texan guitarist's set was satisfying but could have been a bit more upbeat. He played seated in a chair, and while a chair may be standard during his regular shows, it may be wise to save the sitting down for playing an acoustic set, especially in this setting. However, Bramhall did redeem himself later in the day when he played with Clapton's band.

Trucks & Tedeschi :: Crossroads :: 07.28
In between sets Bill Murray arrived on stage dressed in period Eric Clapton wardrobe to introduce the bands. When he introduced Derek Trucks he described him as "an American success story." Nephew of Butch Trucks, longtime drummer for The Allman Brothers Band, Derek has come into his own right and is well established as an incredible musician. His set was well received by the crowd but got a little extra help from his wife and musical partner Susan Tedeschi. At one point she tore into a solo that left Trucks looking like Murray during "Gloria" (sorry Bill). All jokes aside, Trucks and Tedeschi were perfectly matched. Just when you thought they were done, the legendary Johnny Winter made an appearance. Legally blind, the 63 year old made it to his chair with some assistance where he played a raucous version of Dylan's "Highway 61." Backed by Trucks and his band, Winter simply rode "Highway 61" into the sunset.

Jimmie Vaughan :: Crossroads :: 07.28
Following Trucks was another jam staple, Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Randolph is an incredible pedal steel player and he always puts on an energetic performance. Problem is, sometimes it becomes predictable and almost sterile in its delivery. While not disappointing, his set at Crossroads left something to be desired.

Robert Cray, the first of many blues masters of the day, came out firing. Cray has been around for upwards of 25 years and shows no signs of slowing down. His set was soulful, heartfelt and it was fitting that Cray was here for his second Crossroads appearance. Jimmie Vaughan, former Fabulous Thunderbird and older brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan, came out to play a few numbers with Cray's band backing him. Mention the name Vaughan and images of younger brother Stevie come flashing to the mind, however Jimmie is very underrated and has the family chops when it comes to guitar.

B.B. King :: Crossroads :: 07.28
Following Vaughan and Cray was Hubert Sumlin, the great guitarist for the legendary Howlin' Wolf. After a song or two by Sumlin, the master and living legend B.B. King joined the fray. He got a standing ovation as he graciously waved and bowed to the crowd, who continued to cheer. Finally people settled down and King picked up "Lucille" - one of the only guitars many know by name - and played "Rock Me Baby."

Before the last song, King gave a very sincere toast to his dear friend Eric Clapton, who was watching King's set from stage left. With the band playing softly in the background, King said, "May I live forever, but may you live forever and a day, because I'd hate to be here when you pass away." He added, "And when they lay me out to rest, may the last voices I hear be yours!" It was a sobering appreciation of a dear friend and the 81-year-old King stated he was no spring chicken anymore. He then told the band to play louder and ripped into his trademark song, "The Thrill Is Gone."

John Mayer :: Crossroads :: 07.28
After the first intermission of the day the show continued with John Mayer who quickly made it clear why he was invited back for his second Crossroads Festival. Focusing primarily on newer material, at one point screams of, "Play some blues!" were heard. Mayer responded, "I was, in my mind, but I know what you mean." The band tore into Ray Charles' "I Don't Need No Doctor," and the crowd was very pleased. Mayer ended his set with fan favorite "Gravity."

Vince Gill arrived with a large band and proceeded to play his blend of country rock. Gill's set reached a climax with the help of Albert Lee when they tore up a great version of "Country Boy." Lee stayed out for a bit longer as Sheryl Crow made an appearance and played "Strong Enough To Be My Man" with the help of Alison Krauss. Clapton came out for one of his few sit-ins of the day and played "Tulsa Time" with Crow.

Crow & Nelson :: Crossroads :: 07.28
Those who were keen enough to notice a very beat up acoustic guitar sitting on the stage knew that there would be at least one more guest to this already huge band. Sure enough, American icon Willie Nelson came out from the wings. He picked up his trusty guitar, "Trigger," and waved to the crowd. He played a few songs with Gill and Crow and before it even started, the set was over.

As Bill Murray introduced the next band he said that what Bridgeview, IL lacked was a bit of East L.A. Enter Los Lobos. The band, known to most for their version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba," chose to play their own material that day. The mood instantly went from mild to extra spicy. The layering of Dave Hidalgo and César Rosas' instruments complimented the rest of the band's talents and proved why this band has achieved such legendary status.

Jeff Beck :: Crossroads :: 07.28
Now in the final stretch, the heavy hitters started coming on. Jeff Beck played an hour long set that amazed the entire crowd. Beck tore through his catalogue and played tracks such as "Because We've Ended As Lovers" and The Beatles' "A Day In The Life." Beck's guitar is basically an extension of his arm. The sounds you hear don't seem to match the actions of Beck. His playing is effortless, to say the least. His bassist, Tal Wilkenfeld, sat in with Beck and amazed the crowd as well. She looks young enough to be in day camp (she's actually in her early twenties) and already has a reputation of her own. There were no collaborations between Clapton and Beck unfortunately, but the next set made up for that.

Sumlin, Winter, Guy, Clapton :: Crossroads :: 07.28
Eric Clapton and his band (equipped with Trucks and Bramhall on secondary guitars) arrived to the stage with much anticipation. For fans of Derek and The Dominos, they got a real treat with classics like "Anyday," "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad," "Got To Get Better In A Little While" and "Key To The Highway." The show also showcased a number of covers. Of note was George Harrison's "Isn't It A Pity," which Clapton dedicated to his departed longtime friend.

Robbie Robertson (The Band) made a rare appearance for a pair of songs with Clapton's band, "Further On Up The Road" and "Who Do You Love?," the later a tribute to the ailing Bo Diddley. Steve Winwood made his way to the stage and sat down behind the Hammond. Backed by Clapton's band, he launched into Traffic's "Pearly Queen." Clapton made a point to say how excited he was about playing with Winwood again after 25 years. They continued with Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," "Presence Of The Lord" and "Had To Cry Today." This grouping of songs would have been the cherry on the sundae, that is until Clapton went backstage and left Winwood to steer the ship. Winwood followed with what might have been the highlight of the show, "Dear Mr. Fantasy." When one thinks of Winwood, we think of a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, not necessarily a lead guitarist. When it came time for the solos in "Fantasy" his guitar work brought the crowd to a level that hadn't been reached all day. Clapton came back and they finished with J.J. Cale's classic "Cocaine."

Guy & Clapton :: Crossroads :: 07.28
One last time, Billy Murray introduced the final act of the show. Dressed simply in a Blues Brothers t-shirt, he put it plainly, "I'd like to turn it over to the local authorities." Chicago's own blues legend Buddy Guy took center stage with his band. Appropriately, the set started off with "Dam Right I've Got The Blues," and the audience fell in love with Guy. How could you not?

Guy is a master showman in every sense and knows how to entertain a crowd, even a sold out mob of 30,000 like this one. Near the end of the show, preparations for the finale started. Vaughan, Cray, Mayer, Winter, Sumlin, Trucks, Bramhall and, of course, Clapton took to the stage to help Buddy for a mandatory "Sweet Home Chicago," where everyone traded licks. At about 10:45 p.m., Guy and Mayer looked to the sound pit to see if there was time for one more. Fortunately, there was. The final song of this all day masterpiece was "She's Just 19."

Bill Murray
Sonny Landreth
Jerry Douglas
Robert Randolph
B.B. King
Sheryl Crow
Eric Clapton & Sheryl Crow
Jeff Beck
Tal Wilkenfeld (bass for Jeff Beck)
César Rosas - Los Lobos
Bill Murray
Bramhall II, Trucks, Clapton
Doyle Bramhall II & Derek Trucks
Steve Winwood
Eric Clapton

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Carini83 starstarstarstar Mon 8/20/2007 07:34PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Marcsmall Mon 8/20/2007 10:34PM
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This sounds like the shit. I wish i could have been there. These guys, especially EC and Winwood are still so much more talented and sound so much better than almost anyone on the "Jam" scene today. This is what music is supposed to be about. These artists and their music will still be listened to 20-30-40 100 years from now, when nobody will even remember many of the "Jambands" that are currently being Idolized.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 04:46AM
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this is so freaking cool :)

golfer648 Tue 8/21/2007 05:15AM
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good stuff

breadloaf star Tue 8/21/2007 06:44AM
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What a lineup, if you toss John Mayer, that is. I'd be interested in hearing comments from someone who was there. Frankly, the article itself reads like it was a junior high journalism assignment.

aquariumdrunk starstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 07:27AM
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My old man back in Chicago had a blast at this! For him, the highlight was Jeff Beck, who he claims just blew everyone out of the water in every way imaginable. From his descriptions, it sounds like there was a lot of predictable blues crap that he had seen a million times before over the past 40 years of seeing live music in the city, but still interesting due to the participants.

New to him were Derek Trucks and Robert Randolph -- both of whom he raved about. I know the Blind Faith material had him squirming happily.

MartinHalo starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 07:32AM
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I happened to run into this guy Rod Synder once or twice... and let me tell ya, he's a pretty cool dude. Rumor has it he is quite the big game fisherman as well.

cuttyfives Tue 8/21/2007 08:50AM
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John Mayer is not that bad....jeez...yeah he wears what..some of you wear 80$ pants made out of assorted rag patches and your ultra-cool hippie name brand gear...when was the last time you walked into a place of business and people werent wearing polos? this is how real people w/ real jobs dress, for better or worse, you will not be taken seriously dressed like and a goddamn idiot, sorry it is not my call, that is just how the world works...Mayer is a pretty talented dude, im not saying i go to his shows but i have two of his albums i burned from my sister. Ive seen Robert Randolf a dozen times, this guy recycles the same shit over and over, it was cool the first time but he is no better than Mayer... KOolman, name one current "jam" guy that could hang w/ the likes of BB/Clapton...trey/trucks...maybe Scofield, maybe Kimmock...i dont forsee clapton sitting down w/ any members of SCI, WSP, TDB, STS9, or any other crunched out group, do you?

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 09:33AM
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for me buddy guy and bb king makes this worth while.
predictable?? I have not seen them enough to notice this; thank goodness. I put Buddy Guy up against any guitar player, BUDDY CAN HANG!!!!!!

okalrightic Tue 8/21/2007 09:41AM
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cuttyfives...scofield and kimmock can definitely hang with this crew...and don't forget jake cinninger (who shits on most other guitar players)! sounds like a sick show, wish i coulda been there.

The Grand Wazoo Tue 8/21/2007 10:09AM
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The Grand Wazoo

One of the best concert experience of my life. Jeff Beck was AWESOME.

freetime3 Tue 8/21/2007 10:10AM
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Nice artical Jambase. My buddy went and he said Jeff Beck blew his mind.

cuttyfives... Steve Sweney can deffinately hang with the living ledgends B.B./Clapton. No question about it.

phreak89 starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 12:14PM
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this does look like it would an awsome show with so many of the classic timeless artists. and i'm with you okalrightic, Cinninger has some insane chops. he could hang with these guys no problem.

gmoo Tue 8/21/2007 12:55PM
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Man, I wish I was there. Looks like a once in a lifetime experience. Maybe next year I'll pay tribute to these legends.

Give John Mayer some f'in respect. I've never played the biggest festival in the U.S. with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, so he has my respect. Who cares what he wears? Some people will find anything they can to put someone under themselves.

Marcsmall Tue 8/21/2007 12:56PM
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cutty--Jimmy Herring can hang with anyone. as far as the polos thing goes, you are way off base. Maybe you live in some white-christian-conservative-southern town where nobody takes you seriously unless you dress like everyone else, I dunno. As far as Cinninger goes, he's okay, but nothing to write home about

matthau starstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 02:11PM
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Yeah...the clothing comment is a little wierd cutty. However, I can't argue about the validity of John Mayer. The guy really can hang with the best of them. Mayer spent two years at Berklee School of music, and man can he tear. His clean tone and chops remind me alot of dare I say it....Clapton. This probably explains why Clapton and Mayer like playing together so much. Mayer's voice bugs me a bit, but his recent songcraft is quite good...check out Continuum. More people need to be making albums like that. Oh and Mayer's current touring band is not so disimilar from Clapton's...i.e. Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino.

cuttyfives Tue 8/21/2007 02:39PM
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Look, nobody anointed any of you to be Joan Rivers...I was unaware how much all of you hated polos...I live in Chicago, I work in the Loop, and marcsmall, the small, christian, southern college town I attended was jam packed with hippies and if it wasnt for the greek scene, there would have been more drum circles outside of the bars than collars period. And another thing, as much as I couldnt stand the jerk off frat kids, something I hated much more were the hippies who literally didnt wear shoes to class...that being said I love hippies, just not the ones who make life more difficult for real hippies who want to be taken seriously. They do real heads a disservice...I love Fareed, i see him all the time in the Chi and my friend plays bass w/ him all the time...Jimmy Herring might be able to hold claptons jock, but i do not think Krasno could...W.H. could freakin chance...jesus, we are talkin about eric clapton hear and you bring up dumphreys...

mcarroll Tue 8/21/2007 02:50PM
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John Mayer is wearing a black t-shirt in that picture. What's with the Polo discussion?

QuantumTuba starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 03:20PM
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Sounds like an amazing concert with all those legends and new guitar greats. On the John Mayer discussion, I think he wastes his talent playing poppy music, but he is an excellent guitarist, and if Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and Herbie Hancock like him, I think he's doing something right!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Tue 8/21/2007 03:58PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Bill Murray was there?!!!! Ida made the trip had I known he was there.

"Mmmmm. Faye, this corn is so scrumptious. Is it hand chucked?" - best line ever from What About Bob.

Why Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin have never been ranked as high as Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page is beyond me.

McCarrol - I see you're still keeping it classy with that shot of you getting a hummer.

JMM starstarstarstar Tue 8/21/2007 04:11PM
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This was one of the greatest line-ups of musicians I have ever seen. I got to see some of my favorite (living) guitarist all in one show! Totally worth the money and effort to get there.
I'll admit, Some parts were not that interesting to me (like Sheryl Crow). There was also a few let downs. I'm big fans of both Robert Randolph and Robert Cray. I thought both artist were not only pulling their punches but they seemed to pick less bluesy numbers to play than what I have seen from them over the years. Of course, they played well, but considering the show, I expected more. Johnny Winter only played with the Derek Trucks Band (which was excellent) but he could have done his own set.
Clapton & Winwood together!! I'd go back just to see that.
The finale was a little anti-climactic. "Sweet Home Chicago" was killer but the "She's 19 Years Old" had little involvement from most of the folks on stage and it was a strange choice for the final song.

I have not listened to this recording yet, but is a soundboard and it's available at:

cuttyfives Tue 8/21/2007 04:22PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
21mmer Tue 8/21/2007 05:14PM
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mr. pepsi- i'm in total agreement w/ you regarding you beck/mclaughlin comment

to the fashion police- i thought mayer wore izod shirts not polos. is one more/less cool to wear.....i mean, i wouldn't want to inadvertently wear the wrong thing and have a bunch of f-in strangers judging me based on my misinformed fashion decision.

best bill murray line ever- This is a hybrid. This is a cross bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, featherbed bent, and northern California sinsemilla. The amazing stuff about this is that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt at night on this stuff. I've got pounds of this stuff. -Caddyshack


All Loving Liberal White Guy Tue 8/21/2007 06:37PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Actually 21mmer,

I think it's actually a two way tie with.

Bob Wiley: You ever hear of Tourette's syndrome? Involuntarily shouting out profanities?
Dr. Leo Marvin: It's exceptionally rare.
Bob Wiley: Shit-eating son-of-a-bitch... bastard, douche-bag, twat, numb-nuts, dickhead!
Dr. Leo Marvin: Why exactly are you doing this?
Bob Wiley: Well, if I fake it then I don't have it.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 03:51AM
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adding kimmock, warren, schofield, fareed haque, luther, or cinninger would be cool. all of these guys have enough skill to be included in this awesome line-up.

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 07:08AM
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johnny Winter and steve winwood rule!!!

breadloaf starstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 07:25AM
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I'd like to address my comment about John Mayer, because it seems to have started a small skirmish; I assure you that my slight of the man (boy) were not sartorial in nature. I personally could care less who wears what. In fact, I would hope that most of you have friends or associates who are diverse enough to represent many walks of life and their attendant dress codes. My closet includes items ranging from a torn Dead shirt from the closing of the Winterland to hand tailored Italian suits. Each has their place and I fear not judgement, nor make apologies. I grew up watching the Dead with Weir wearing a pink Izod and I have actually seen Jerry himself wear a polo before. The music sounded the same to me.

More importantly, on Mayer's guitar playing skill I humbly capitulate; the dude can certainly play well, and if I inferred otherwise I am incorrect. My animosity towards him has its actual genesis in the songwriting, which I find totally forgettable, at best, and the fact that I saw some part of a film (I think it might have been some MTV show that my kids had on) in which he repeatedly made fools of his own unsuspecting fans. Although meant to be funny, I thought this to be in amazingly poor taste as a person who has spent a lifetime both playing and supporting music. Mayer seems to be the latest in a long line of up and coming guitar slingers who get tabbed the "next SRV,' the next whomever. I, personally, choose to cherish my fond memories of the first SRV (who, if you recall, was often called, "the next Jimi")

There are many individuals who can "hang" with this lineup-tons more than have been mentioned. I do not believe that was the point of the lineup. It seems more of a celebration of blues than of who has the scariest chops. The blues folks generally know how to leave some space between notes once in a while, a concept that seems to be lost on many guitar players.

AdkinsJ starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 10:19AM
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Desperately wanted to see this show but was driving to a Cleveland WSP show when tix went on sale - we pulled over at a rest area to get online and, by the time we got through, the only tix left were at the back of the stadium. Couldn't do it. Sure would've liked to have seen EC pulling out the Derek and the Dominoes tunes (esp. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad!) w/ Trucks doing Duane on the slide. And then the Blind Faith stuff...makes me sick to my stomach that I missed that. Clapton is still God.

Forgot that Murray quote from Caddyshack!

jaghabpv Wed 8/22/2007 11:01AM
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hey cutty if you hate hippies so much you need to find another community because this one happens to be hippy friendly

HOPEFULPHAN starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 11:02AM
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looks like a good show. i have to wonder if clapton gives love to john mayer why not jake cinninger or even warren? differnt styles perhaps?..

srosner starstarstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 11:20AM
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Sooooooooooo nice.

gos Thu 8/23/2007 08:00AM
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It has nothing to do with who can "hang" and everything to do with whatever gets you off.

Ned8 starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/29/2007 09:44AM
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Great article.... I got goose bumps thinking of Derick and the Domino when I saw that picture of Trucks and Clapton. This looked like an amazing experience all the way around. Hope someone recorded it... Hint Hint

Hit me up if I can get that

guitardave starstarstarstar Fri 8/31/2007 11:51AM
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What a show! They gotta bring this gig to NYC. Mayer definitely started his career trying to make hits but he definitely has some sizeable blues chops. Cut the guy some slack he's been in a blues trio for the last 4-5 years now. I caught him on Austin City Limits with Double Trouble and obviously he spent a lot of time listening to Stevie Ray.

Too bad there was no Beck- Clapton- McLaughlin throwdown.

goddessjewelry Tue 9/4/2007 02:12PM
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I am glad to see Crossroads covered, I also noticed the two page spread in Relix. Some of these guys are the roots of our current jam scene and we should appreciate. This article is sophmoric, but it does cover all the acts and makes some good points. Randolph being one, every time I see this guy it's the same ol'...I love him, but I won't travel to see him again.

Now, I have seen just about everybody there is and I say without reservation

This was the greatest rock n roll moment I ever experienced!!!

Specifically, Winwood/Clapton collaboration, WOW!!! Dear Mr. Fantasy made me cry, and yeah I saw Brent do it so many times I can't count...Can't find my way was extremely poignant by WSP on 12-31-05 in my home state, but...

Jeff Beck was amazing!!! Some sets were cut and dry earlier in the day, but all total This show ranks as I said as my greatest rock n roll moment.

But front row at Mule's Bonnaroo all star jam, was another moment...

MostlyDead starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/11/2010 10:15AM
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this lineup is stellar. ha and that picture of bb king is classic