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Published: 2013/04/13

Eric Clapton, Allman Brothers Band, Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer and More Rock the Crossroads Guitar Festival

Eric Clapton brought the fourth edition of his Crossroads Guitar Festival to Madison Square Garden for the first time last night, kicking off a two-night extravaganza that showcases some of the finest and most respected guitarists around today. The event benefits the Crossroads Centre for drug and alcohol treatment in Antigua, which Clapton founded in 1998.

The evening kicked off at 7:30 on the dot with a five-song acoustic set from Clapton, which began with “Driftin’ Blues” accompanied by regular band members Willie Weeks and Steve Jordan. Clapton was then joined by the rest of his band for a rendition of rhythm guitarist Andy Fairweather-Low’s “Spider Jiving,” and following the set-climax “Tears in Heaven,” the mini-set wrapped up with a pair crowd favorites, the bluesy ‘70s hit “Lay Down Sally” (with Vince Gill) and Slowhand’s classic love song, “Wonderful Tonight.”

Stax recording legend Booker T. Jones and his band (which includes original M.G.’s member Steve Cropper) were the second act, and brought their brand of funky soul to the Garden with renditions of Booker T. & The M.G.’s instrumentals “Time Is Tight” and “Hip Hug Her.” British guitar legend Albert Lee and songwriter Blake Mills joined the band for their take on the ‘50s instrumental “Sleep Walk,” and a Keb’ Mo’-led take on the Jones-penned “Born Under a Bad Sign” (which was also recorded by Cream). The set closed with a Blues Brothers band mini-reunion, with Matt “Guitar” Murphy joining the band for the most famous M.G. hit, “Green Onions.”

Robert Cray (who has been a performer at all four Crossroads festivals) was up next, playing two of his own blues numbers (“Side Dish” and “Great Big Old House”) before bringing the sold-out New York City crowd to their feet with a roar by inviting B.B. King on stage. The audience stayed standing and sung along as Cray and King jammed “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Sweet Sixteen.” Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan were the next to walk on and the four sat in a line beside King, who joked, “I’m 87, but why are these three sitting down?” The four guitarists went into an extended “Every Day I Have the Blues,” trading verses and guitar licks before walking off and leaving the crowd wanting more.

Sonny Landreth came out for a solo guitar performance before Doyle Bramhall II and his band (including The Roots’ keyboardist James Poyser) took the stage for a straight-ahead rock set starting with “Green Light Girl” and “Cry,” the latter featuring singer Alice Smith. Bramhall then brought out Citizen Cope, who took center stage for his song “Bullet and a Target” with Bramhall and his band. Austin blues star Gary Clark Jr. arrived for another Citizen Cope song, “Son’s Gonna Rise,” and after Citizen Cope made his exit, Clark jammed with Bramhall on the band’s closer, “She’s Alright.”

Philip Sayce, the winner of a Guitar Center contest, performed a hard rock instrumental, and then guitarist Earl Klugh brought a different vibe to the evening with few acoustic jazz jams, accompanied by upright bassist Al Turner. Kurt Rosenwinkel continued the jazz mood with his set, though in a much louder and more electric manner. Rosenwinkel and his band opened with the title track from his 2012 release Star of Jupiter, before legendary musician Allan Holdsworth joined him for “Gamma Band.” Following the fusion shred-fest, Clapton replaced Holdsworth on stage for takes on the standards “If I Should Lose You” and “Way Down That Lonesome Road.”

Gary Clark Jr. then made his second appearance of the evening with a rare solo set, as he strummed an acoustic guitar and used his feet on a bass drum and hi hat. In an understated two-song set on the far left corner of the stage, Clark performed “Next Door Neighbor Blues,” the closing track from his 2012 debut album, Blak and Blu, and “Don’t Owe You a Thing.” Despite the brevity of his set, the crowd still gave him a standing ovation, as Clark left no doubt as to why he’s one of the guitar world’s most celebrated young stars.

Clark was followed by John Mayer, in what was his third Crossroads appearance. His performance last night was only his second since surgery to remove granulomas in his throat, and his voice sounded in fine form, though he reharmonized many of his vocal lines to a lower register (without changing the original key of the songs). Mayer performed “Who Says,” a single from 2009’s Battle Studies album that received a cheer from the crowd for the line, “It’s been a long night in New York City,” as well as _Continuum_’s “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and “Queen of California,” from last year’s Born and Raised. The highlight of Mayer’s set was the crowd-rousing cover of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” with guest Keith Urban (who expressed what an honor it was to support the Crossroads cause as “a friend of Bill W.’s,” meaning a member of Alcoholics Anonymous). The entire audience remained on their feet as Mayer and Urban traded solos on a rocking version of the ‘60s classic.

The undisputable crowd favorite of the night was the next performer, Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy. Along with his band that included pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph and the remarkable 14-year old Quinn Sullivan, Guy kept the Garden dancing throughout his entire set. The three-song set included “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues,” “Let the Door Knob Hit Ya,” and “Slippin’ In.” As the crowd cheered when Guy announced that he wanted to “play so funky you can smell it,” the blues statesman and his band were tight and there wasn’t a dull moment in his all too brief 25-minute set.

The evening’s emcee, Dan Aykroyd, took an opportunity after Guy to don his classic Blues Brothers Wayfarers and pay tribute to Muddy Waters with “Louisiana Blues” and “Got My Mojo Workin’,” as he played harmonica and Keb’ Mo’ accompanied him on acoustic guitar. Aykroyd then introduced the first night headliners, The Allman Brothers Band, who were taking the Garden stage for the first time since the mid-80’s. The six-song set started with “Don’t Want You No More” and “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” before Gregg Allman invited Taj Mahal, Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo to help out on “Statesboro Blues.” ABB then played “Black Hearted Woman” before Clapton came out for the Derek & The Dominos song, “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” with Derek Trucks playing a gold top Les Paul as Duane Allman did on the original recording. The first night Crossroads festivities came to a close with Trucks, Warren Haynes and co. jamming out “Whipping Post.” The second night of the Crossroads Guitar Festival at Madison Square Garden starts at 7:30 tonight.

Friday, April 12, 2013, Crossroads Guitar Festival, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Eric Clapton

1. Driftin’ Blues
2. Spider Jiving
3. Tears in Heaven
4. Lay Down Sally (with Vince Gill)
5. Wonderful Tonight

Booker T., Steve Cropper & Matt “Guitar” Murphy
1. Time Is Tight
2. Hip Hug Her
3. Sleep Walk (with Blake Mills & Albert Lee)
4. Born Under a Bad Sign (with Blake Mills, Albert Lee & Keb’ Mo’)
5. Green Onions (with Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Blake Mills, Albert Lee & Keb’ Mo’)

Robert Cray
1. Side Dish
2. Great Big Old House
3. Let the Good Times Roll (with B.B. King)
4. Sweet Sixteen (with B.B. King)
5. Every Day I Have the Blues (with B.B. King, Eric Clapton & Jimmie Vaughan)

Sonny Landreth
1. Unknown

Doyle Bramhall II
1. Green Light Girl
2. Cry (with Alice Smith)
3. Bullet and a Target (with Citizen Cope)
4. Son’s Gonna Rise (with Citizen Cope & Gary Clark Jr.)
5. She’s Alright (with Gary Clark Jr.)

Philip Sayce
1. Steamroller

Earl Klugh
1. Unknown
2. This Time
3. Unknown

Kurt Rosenwinkel
1. Star of Jupiter
2. Gamma Band (with Allan Holdsworth)
3. If I Should Lose You (with Eric Clapton)
4. Way Down That Lonesome Road (with Eric Clapton)

Gary Clark Jr.
1. Next Door Neighbor Blues
2. Don’t Owe You a Thing

John Mayer
1. Who Says
2. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
3. Queen of California
4. Don’t Let Me Down (with Keith Urban)

Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph & Quinn Sullivan
1. Damn Right I Got the Blues
2. Let the Door Knob Hit Ya
3. Slippin’ In

Dan Aykroyd & Keb’ Mo’
1. Louisiana Blues
2. Got My Mojo Workin’

The Allman Brothers Band
1. Don’t Want You No More
2. It’s Not My Cross to Bear
3. Statesboro Blues (with Taj Mahal, Cesar Rosas & David Hidalgo)
4. Black Hearted Woman
5. Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad? (with Eric Clapton)
6. Whipping Post

Comments

There are 9 comments associated with this post

Butch Worrell April 13, 2013, 17:26:27

What an awesome show!

Timothy E. McKenna April 13, 2013, 18:02:06

Bought the DVD of last year’s concert in Chicago. Hoping 4 a repete DVD this year!! Was Dickie Betts with t ABB on stage??

RK April 13, 2013, 21:49:00

The Chicago show was three years ago. These only happen every 3 years. Also, Dickey Betts hasn’t been with the ABB since 2000.

mfa April 13, 2013, 22:08:01

I miss Mr. Betts too…but I have seen ABB many times since and Derek & Haynes are no slouches…they are still a worthwhile band to catch.

Tom Krawczyk April 13, 2013, 23:12:57

I must say i’ve been to many of concerts in my life (i’m 51 yrs young) and i was at the show last nite and i was THE BEST showing of musical talent and class and MAN DID IT ROCKKKKKKKKKKKK Loved all 5 hrs of it what a show i will not miss the next one no matter where it is….....Thank you Mr. Eric Clapton & co.

Tim April 14, 2013, 14:19:19

I go to 10 or 12 concerts a year and I’ve been doing that for a long time. Friday night at Crossroads was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to; the players just kept pushing each other and we all got to watch. I clocked it at 4 hours and forty five minutes without a stop. What a night. By the way, the sound in the Garden was outstanding.

Tim April 14, 2013, 14:23:34

ABB is more than just a worthwhile band. They are one of the tightest live bands out there, to this day, and this lineup with Derek and Warren is as good as it gets – and that includes the days when Dicky was at his best. Derek is doing things on that SG that noone else is doing.

Fred G April 14, 2013, 22:11:02

Tim,
I agree with your comments for the most part. However, not to mention the true heart of ABB to this day is weak. Duane was, is and will always be the backbone of this band. I do love the current configuration. Dereck is playing Duane’s SG.
Gracefully ~ Fred G

Tommy S. April 21, 2013, 23:38:58

The reference to the ABB not playing the Garden since the “mid-80’s” is incorrect. The band played Madison Square Garden in 1990 as part of the “Seven Turns” tour.

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