Eric Clapton

Crossroads Guitar Festival
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There are only two criticisms I can level at this celebration of all things guitar, so let’s get them out of the way. The first is that it’s pretty much a men-only affair. The second is each performer’s occasional, self-satisfied enjoyment at being members of a club that most players will never enter. But, hey, why not let legends enjoy the same overt giddiness as, say, a bunch of cats who build model railroads? As the event’s headmaster, Eric Clapton seems as energized and blissed out, and, well, delightfully dorky as I’ve ever seen him. He’s obviously having a blast being in the presence of heroes, friends, and fellow travelers, and the usual seriousness and understated star power is nowhere to be seen. He’s just one of the guys. And what a bunch of guys: B.B. King, Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Buddy Guy, and scores of other guitar stars.

Now, you’d think that if you weren’t a player yourself, this set would just seem like senseless wanking, but I was there, and thousands of every day people—men, women, and children—were driven out of their minds. This DVD brings it all home, and it documents the awesome power of blues and blues-influenced guitar. All guitarists should thank Clapton for pulling this thing off, and you can thank him by buying the DVD, as royalties from its sale benefit his Crossroads Centre, Antigua. Reprise. —Michael Molenda