Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Blues Guitar Great Hubert Sumlin performs during Crossroads
Hubert Sumlin, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton
John Mayer Performing at Crossroads
Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton
If the spirit of Crossroads Guitar Festival was to demonstrate how deeply embedded and appreciated the Blues is in US culture,then it succeeded overwhelmingly.It was a sight to behold --true and pioneering blues men getting their due recognition and earned appreciation by the younger generation.
The most memorable moments for me were during BB King's salute to Eric Clapton,Robert Cray performance with BB,Robert Randolph and the Family Band,Buddy Guy's All Stars,Hubert Sumlin,John Mayer's blistering guitar solo on "I Don't Need No Doctor",as well as his dedication of every note he performed during his set to B.B. King, and Steve Winwood's finale performance with Eric Clapton,Derek Trucks,Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks.A tear streamed down my cheek as the King of the Blues poured his heart out to thousands about how the admiration and gratitude he had for Clapton.
The King of the Blues Salutes Clapton
Paraphrasing B.B. as he toasted Clapton, "I wish to live forever,but I hope you live forever and a day,because I wouldn't want to be here without you." As the king was making his salute,the camera zoomed in on Clapton who gave full deference to B.B.,letting him know he had the floor and that it was alright with him to continue.If any thing ever spoke to the camaraderie and community among blues musicians that did.But even more,it was a testament to how highly regarded Clapton is among his fellow musicians and friends.More importantly,Clapton has been a source of tremendous support in terms of backing and morale in keeping the blues genre alive. That fact was made clear with BB's "toast" of water and endearing platitudes, as hundreds more in the festival audience lifted their bottles of spring water in unison with the gesture. He talked about how Clapton had traveled many miles years ago to participate in the recording of his first CD.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band
Robert Randolph simply put is a powerhouse performer. He had some kind of groove going with those power blues chords and the fancy guitar licks for which he has become well known.He really perked the audience up and got the spirits high.
Robert Cray and B.B. King
Robert Cray's performance with the B.B. was memorable. The respect there is clear. Cray's back up of the King on the "Thrill is Gone" and his performance of his anti-war song "Twenty" was delivered with his silky smooth vocals and guitar presence.It was a real treat to witness the great Chicago blues man Hubert Sumlin as part of the group.
John Mayer Blues
John Mayer proved his blues guitar chops once again after a rather comedic intro by Festival MC comedian Bill Murray who changed up his outfit more than once to blend with the ambiance,tone and mood to be set by each artist.John's set included Waiting On the World To Change,Belief.Vultures,I Don't Need No Doctor and Gravity.When one audience member yelled out to the ever responsive Mayer "Play Some Blues" after his performance of Vultures,Mayer replied, "I thought that was what I was doing. But,I understand what you mean.
He then went into what he described as his rendition of the Ray Charles song "I Don't Need No Doctor". His guitar solo on that one had to be one of the most amazing things I had ever seen in terms of pure speed and intensity of delivery.I believe he was playing that custom white guitar that was especially made for him at the fender Custom Shop.There was a Honeyee blog especially dedicated to it,I believe. After the Ray charles cover,he went into the song which he described as really fitting the spirit of the Crossroads Festival,his unmistakably bluesy "Gravity". It was breathless.Absolutely no question about his blues acumen by the uninitiated after that performance.Mayer made sure to give his heroes their due by stating in between songs that he was happy to be among the blues artists there and beginning to like being the new one. From all accounts and observations they have made him feel right at home.
Eric Clapton,Steve Winwood,Derek Trucks,Steve Jordan and Willie Weeks
The finale which included a magnificent set of Steve Winwood "Traffic" era songs like "Please Mr. Fantasy","Can't Find My Way Back Home" and others was just mesmerizing. I was a big fan of Steve winwood and Traffic back during my college days and his performance at the Crossroads Festival reminded me why.Winwood demonstrated that he is quite the all around musician as he negotiated his way between the organ and his guitar.It was very impressive,giving the presentation of a well oiled machine. In fact,he came across as quite the seasoned and polished guitar player that was famous for during the late 60's and early 70's. I enjoyed the performance tremendously.
Steve Jordan on drums,Derek Truck,Willie Weeks on guitar...it was a great band.Trucks who I was hearing for the first time,is really a very skilled guitarist.I expect to hear great things about him in the days to come.His performance with Susan Tedeschi was rock solid.
Finally,I was happy that Clapton performed George Harrison's "Isn't it A Pity". "I've Learned to Live In the Presence of the Lord"...nice touch as were several others. I could go on and on...My only regret is that I was not there in person to hang out with some of those legends. Amazing.
Maybe next time...