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  Crossroads Guitar Festival - By Tom L.

  The Healer

Wow PINCH ME, cause I think I died and went to Willie Dixon's Blue Heaven!!!

Picture if you will…….. 2 guys and a girl-rider by their side. Yes, 3 Blues fanatics out of the American West in front of a Dallas Texas stage lit up with the faces, and axes, of Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughn, Robert Randolph and Chicago's elder-statesman….(in a gray suit),…Hubert Sumlin. Yes only in Blues Heaven Right?!?!

No Rod Serling did not conjure up this Voodoo happening, Eric Clapton did!! And this was only on Saturday before the main concert at the Cotton Bowl on Sunday!!

The Crossroads Guitar Festival June 4-6 held at Fair Park and the Cotton bowl in Dallas was truly Blues Nirvanna! The proceeds of the event going to Eric's Crossroads treatment and education center in Antigua made this Angelic-event even more of a spiritual experience, knowing it was going to a good cause.

On Sunday in the Cotton Bowl, I think Carlos Santana hit the nail on the head when he praised Eric Clapton for doing work to "heal people". As John Lee Hooker said it,…….. now, Eric was doing it………Blues truly is the Healer!!

Highlights on Saturday brought the technical guitar wizardry of Austin-bred Eric Johnson. Wow! This guy is awesome. Not my cup of tea as far as Blues hittin' my heart like a Coal-Train but I was amazed at his prowess and skill. Gotta give the man his props!

John Mayer came out and got his pop tune "Your body is a wonderland" out of the way and played a decent set……..his best performance (converting me to a fan of his) was on Sunday. I'll get to that later.

Two special things for me happened on Saturday. The first: 1) JJ Cale came out to play A)After Midnight, B) Travilin' Light and C).Cocaine. And the bonus round was that Clapton came out to join him on stage for the set………..freakin' history!!

The second thing 2) was watching Robert Randolph (of Robert Randolph and his Family Band fame) light into Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" with possessed passion lighting up the fairgrounds with Voodoo healing!! Now……… Robert plays a Pedal Steel guitar that lays down. I was wondering how a black guy from Jersey got exposed to this originally Hawaiian instrument that has popularity in country music. To see it in the Blues world baffled me. Then, I was schooled by a fan that told me the Pedal Steel is also called the "Sacred Steel" and is used in a number of churches in New Jersey, and that is where Robert learned to play it. Well he certainly paid attention in church cause he held his own sermon with Voodoo Chile!!

Okay it was really 3 SPECIAL things… The scene I opened up with in this discussion. With all that history on stage it is for sure a highlight of my life in the Blues!!

Sunday was not to be believed ……ALSO! I must have done something right in a previous life to have 2 days of pure musical ecstasy.

This day brought me many varied surprises………

First David Johansen got on stage with legendary Hubert Sumlin (who played guitar in Howlin' Wolf's band) and sang. Hearing David barking out "Killing Floor" brought chicken flesh bumps to my skin……unreal……I think he was channeling the Wolf himself!!! It was truly brilliant to see David, the front man for the punk band the New York Dolls up there being the Wolf with Hubert!! Yes, Buster Poindexter (David's other band and alter ego) was a perfect Wolf in Punk's clothing!!

Jeff Beck's "Cause We've Ended as Lovers" was a miracle! Seeing him do it live and watching him milk the knobs and whammy bars of his axe was another historical sight beyond description. This song touched me.

Another touching moment was when (and I know it is bad not to have his name but…) the guy that was associated with Stevie Ray Vaughn's band came up and played a classical/flamenco number that was so beautiful that it actually brought me to tears!! This was early in the day -- dead sober -- watching and listening to his healing strings made me cry. I looked over and my friend was crying too!! (It wasn't the girl either) That's how powerful this performance was!

Joe Walsh was a Sunday Treat. I would like to know how it feels to be Joe, having dodged all the Psychoanalysts all these years and still being a great guy, guitarist and performer. His Pshcho-banter between numbers was truly original and funny!!! Thanks Joe -- for being still crazy after all these years!!! Hearing "Funk 49" live was the best!!

The final Huge Highlight was when BB King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughn, and John Mayer were up on stage for what looked like an impromptu….. "Hey let's get together at my crib and jam on the south side of Chicago" type of set. Seeing BB King Shake his 78 year old frame while shouting "I wancha to rock me baby….like my back ain't got no bone!!"….. was a Thrill!!!

I became a John Mayer fan at this point. I had never heard him play raw Blues before but he changed all that. He was crisp clean and quick on his changes. He ripped off this great solo and then promptly took his guitar off his neck and placed it at the feet of the Master…. Mr. Buddy Guy! He bowed out of respect to him and exited the stage……It was a fitting gesture -- The young bull giving it up to the old bull. I applaud John.

It started to rain at the very end when ZZ Top was closing the show and I only wish some of the performers would have come back to Top it off with SRV's "The Sky is Crying" but then again I may have had to visit the shrinks Joe Walsh has been dodging because it would have put me in la-la-land. I guess the rain itself was enough from Stevie.

That's enough!! I gotta stop now. Carlos Santana was freakin' awesome okay?! I could go on forever! I will just mention some of the other great performers that added to the remedy: Bo Diddley, Booker T. & the MGs, Johnny Lang, Vince Gill, Steve Vai, James Taylor and Neal Schon.

As the Guitar-High-Priest Carlos Santana sanctified Eric Clapton in his preamble talking about his efforts to help people overcome their addictions, I realized right then and there Hooker was right ………..BLUES IS THE HEALER

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