Words can’t even describe the depth and breadth of music talent this past week in Dallas, Texas. Considered one of the world’s all-time greatest guitarists and known amongst his peers as a great collaborator, Eric Clapton brought the fifth installment of the Crossroads Guitar Festival to American Airlines Center.
The past, present and future of guitar music joined Eric Clapton in Dallas, Texas for an unparalleled two-night event that fans and artists alike will remember for a very long time. The lineup alone got everyone stoked for this return to Dallas where it all started. It’s been six long years since the last festival and people came from all over to witness it. The fest brought international legends as well as budding artists and covered all music genres from jazz to alternative rock. The sheer amount of legendary guitarists under one roof was undeniable and palpable.
The list of performers included:
Eric Clapton & Andy Fairweather-Low
James Burton & Albert Lee
Kurt Rosenwinkel with Pedro Martins
The Marcus King Band
Pedro Martins & Daniel Santiago
Eric Clapton & His Band with Alan Darby
Gary Clark, Jr.
Lianne La Havas
Vince Gill & Band
Besides the epic artists themselves, each day included incredible collaborations the likes of which you would not get to see anywhere else. It makes this event truly special. And not just for the audience. Incredible and unusual collabs by special guests delighted the crowd: Alan Darby, Billy Gibbons, Bonnie Raitt, Gary Clark Jr., Jamie Oldaker, Keb’ Mo’, Albert Lee, Bradley Walker, Jerry Douglas, Joe Walsh, John Mayer.
Clapton appeared many times throughout the nights and dedicated the event to his friend, Alan Rogan, who passed away earlier in the summer. Alan was a great musician who was part of The Who family since the 70’s.
Thanks to a rotating stage and amazing stage crew, Bill Murray, there was constant action and little down time between sets.
The show was emceed by an interesting comedic choice, Bill Murray. He added some silliness and fun and also attempted to jam with bands on several occasions. Murray is well-known for his love of live music, showing up at music festivals and iconic shows.
Texas artists had a strong spot in this year’s lineup including: Gary Clark Jr. (Austin), Jimmie Vaughan (Austin), Billy Gibbons (Houston), Doyle Bramhall II (Dallas).
Highlights from the fest:
The Eagle’s Joe Walsh and Vince Gill jammed together on epic Eagle’s songs. Watching legend James Burton (who played with Elvis) jamming with Albert Lee was incredibly special. John Mayer jammed with several artists and newcomer Tom Misch. Huge set with Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang (who have been touring together for years). Deep sets from Gary Clark Jr., Jimmie Vaughan collab with Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow’s collabs with Doyle Bramhall and Bonnie Raitt, and Tedeschi Trucks’ set. Legend Robert Cray and buzzworthy Marcus King were also great sets. Seeing legend Jeff Beck perform was indescribable. But nothing felt more iconic than seeing Clapton himself play (and his epic band) and jam with many of the artists.
His band – which unusually featured two drummers and a percussionist – was Chris Stainton (keys), Paul Carrack (keys / vocals), Doyle Bramhall II (guitar / vocals), Nathan East (bass / vocals), Katie Kissoon (vocals), Sharon White (vocals), Pedrito Martinez (percussion), Sonny Emory (drums) and Steve Gadd (drums). Featured guests were Alan Darby, and John Mayer. The 8 song electric set was a highlight from start to finish but the crowd favorites were undoubtedly “Pretending”, “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “Layla “(with John Mayer) and amazing cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” that closed out the set.
Set from Day 1:
Sonny Landreth: Walkin’ Blues, It Hurts Me Too, Instrumental (Title Unknown), Brave New Girl
Eric Clapton with Andy Fairweather Low, Jamie Oldaker, Steve Gadd, Nathan East and Pedrito Martinez: Circus, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, Tears In Heaven, Wonderful Tonight, Lay Down Sally
Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo’ and Alan Darby – 1 song. Alan played the new Gibson Custom Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird 1 Recreation which is part of the 2019 Crossroads Guitar Collection.
Citizen Cope – 5 songs including Bullet And A Target and Sideways. Gary Clark, Jr. joined for one number
Gustavo Santaolalla – the Argentinian guitarist and composer opened with the Apology Song, followed by a selection of songs from film soundtracks he composed.
Sheryl Crow – 6-song set with guests Bonnie Raitt and James Bay. If It Makes You Happy, Steve McQueen (with Bonnie Raitt), Live Wire (with Bonnie Raitt), Everything Is Broken (with Bonnie Raitt and James Bay), Every Day Is A Winding Road (with James Bay)
Pedro Martins and Daniel Santiago – 3-song set
Kurt Rosenwinkel with Pedro Martins – performed 6 songs. Songs were taken from Kurt Rosenwinkel’s album Caipi and Pedro Martin’s album, Vox.
James Burton and Albert Lee with Jamie Oldaker and Nathan East: That’s Alright Mama, Rock Around With Ollie Vee
Jimmie Vaughan and The Tilt-A-Whirl Band with guests Bonnie Raitt and Billy Gibbons: D/FW, Roll Roll Roll, No One To Talk To (But The Blues), Baby Please Come Home (with Bonnie Raitt), I Ain’t Never (with Bonnie Raitt), Sharp Dressed Man (with Billy Gibbons), La Grange (with Billy Gibbons)
Doyle Bramhall and Gary Clark, Jr: Rock Me Baby
The Marcus King Band: 7 song set including I Just Want To Make Love To You, Hoochie Coochie Man and Goodbye Carolina.
Peter Frampton with Eric Clapton: Georgia On My Mind (Instrumental), Do You Feel Like We Do, While My Guitar Gently Weeps (with Eric Clapton)
Jeff Beck with guests Johnny Depp and Jimmy Hall: Jeff’s set included Big Block, Isolation (with Johnny Depp), Somebody’s Nobody (with Johnny Depp), Superstition (with Johnny Depp and Jimmy Hall), Little Wing (with Johnny Depp and Jimmy Hall)- anyone who left early missed it since it was at the end of the set after midnight.
Set from Day 2:
Robert Randolph: – Cut Em Loose, two unknown song titles, Don’t Fight It, Baptise Me
Doyle Bramhall II with guests Jim Keltner (full set) and Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi for two songs. Doyle’s set: I Wanna Be Your Dog, Izabella, That’s How Strong My Love Is (with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi), Going Going Gone (with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi)
Tom Misch with guest John Mayer: I Wish, It Runs Through Me, Unknown Song Title (with John Mayer)
James Bay: Hold Back The River, Let It Go, Peer Pressure, Proud Mary, When We Were On Fire
Los Lobos with guests Eric Clapton and Susan Tedeschi: Set lincluded Made To Break Your Heart (with Eric Clapton and Susan Tedeschi), I Walk Alone, Will The Wolf Survive
Keb’ Mo’: five song solo set was Every Morning, I Remember You, Am I Wrong, Just Like You, Dangerous Mood
Robert Cray Band: six song set was I Shiver, I Don’t Care, Fix This, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Just How Low
Buddy Guy with Jonny Lang: three song set with extended versions of Cognac, I Just Want To Make Love To You and Five Long Years (included snippets of Mary Had A Little Lamb and I’m A King Bee).
John Mayer: two song solo set was Slow Dancing In A Burning Room and Neon
Tedeschi Trucks Band: five song set was Signs High Times, Down In The Flood, How Blue Can You Get (dedicated to the memory of BB King), Keep On Growing, Shame
Lianne La Havas: three song solo set was Is Your Love Big Enough, I Say A Little Prayer, Midnight
Gary Clark Jr: His seven song set was Bright Lights, Feed The Babies, I Got My Eyes On You, Low Down Rolling Stone, Our Love, Pearl Cadillac, Come Together
Vince Gill with guests Albert Lee, Bradley Walker, Jerry Douglas and Joe Walsh: The eight song set was Oklahoma Dust, Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down, Ode To Billie Joe, Tulsa Time (with Albert Lee, Jerry Douglas and Bradley Walker), Drifting Too Far From The Shore (with Albert Lee, Jerry Douglas and Bradley Walker), Hey Joe (with Albert Lee and Jerry Douglas), Rocky Mountain Way (with Joe Walsh), Life In The Fast Lane (with Joe Walsh)
Eric Clapton and His Band: The festival host started off by singing Happy Birthday to emcee Bill Murray and presented a cake. Eric’s main set was Pretending, Key To The Highway (with guest Alan Darby), Hoochie Coochie Man (with guest Alan Darby), Badge, Little Queen of Spades, Layla (electric, with John Mayer), and Crossroads (with John Mayer). Purple Rain was the encore.
All Star Guitar Finale: High Time We Went (with most of the musicians).
Although some epic guitarists (still alive and most are touring) that could easily be considered some of the besrt weren’t on the lineup this year-probably for scheduling reasons etc.: Tom Morello, Pete Townshend, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Dan Auerbach, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Perry, Jack White, The Edge, Brian May, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Satriani, Slash, Nita Strauss, Keith Richards) this year’s festival couldn’t have been better (albeit for a few more female artists).
All profits from the Festival benefited The Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a treatment and education facility founded by the guitarist for chemically dependent persons. Clapton’s wife Melia Clapton spoke briefly about her personal connection to the treatment center and how thankful she was for it helping her brother. She also announced a new program, Turn up for Recovery, which aims to raise awareness and funds for abstinence based recovery. We loved that this event was for such a great cause that is in great need today around the world.
More about Crossroads Centre
Founded in 1998 by Eric Clapton, Crossroads Centre Antigua was created to provide treatment and education to chemically and alcohol-dependent people, their families, and their significant others. Treatment is provided through residential care, family and aftercare programs. The pathway to recovery is founded on the 12 steps and a change in lifestyle. Crossroads Centre, Antigua also operates a 16-bed halfway house in Antigua called the Bevon House and facilitates various ongoing recovery initiatives on the island of Antigua and around the Caribbean.