Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 (Rhino)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Dec. 3, 2010
Eric ClaptonCrossroads Guitar Festival 2010 (Rhino)
"Are you sick of the sound of the electric guitar yet?" asks Eric Clapton slyly toward the end of this four-hour, 2-disc set. The audience, nearly 30,000 strong, roars back "No!" even though they're nine hours or so into the daylong fest. Viewers might have a different opinion. Recorded this summer in Chicago, the third such event curated by the UK guitarist, Crossroads covers nearly every style of guitar – heavy on the blues, of course, but also folk from Bert Jansch, jazz from Earl Klugh, and country and rockabilly via Vince Gill with a huge assist from James Burton. Texas is well represented by Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark Jr., and ZZ Top's beards. Performances are cut with backstage interviews, and it's hardly a surprise that the wisest comment comes from 80-year-old Hubert Sumlin, once Howlin' Wolf's guitarist, who proclaims, "I don't care how fast you are or how good you are; you ain't good enough unless you got the soul." Besides the Gill/Burton tandem, which also features Albert Lee and Keb Mo', that soul comes from Jeff Beck, who brings some jazzy fireworks, and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, who simmer on the Allman Brothers alongside the band's guitar tandem of Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes. Trucks' wife, Susan Tedeschi, embodies the spirit of the host's old pals Delaney & Bonnie with "Space Captain," but Buddy Guy and Ronnie Wood tackling the Stones' "Miss You" seems gratuitous and cloying. Clapton's set, featuring a cameo from the inscrutable Citizen Cope, comes off remarkably dull, until he's joined by Steve Winwood for some blue-eyed soul of the Blind Faith/Traffic variety that saves the day.