ERIC CLAPTON'S CROSSROADS
GUITAR FESTIVAL 2013

Legendary Concert Larger than Life on the Big Screen
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

"I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees. I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees. Asked the Lord above for mercy, save me if you please."

Eric Clapton's Crossroads on the Big Screen

These famous lyrics were penned by blues man Robert Johnson (1911-1938) but the song came into prominence in the late 1960's when guitarist Eric Clapton with the band Cream exposed it to the mainstream. Clapton has called Johnson "the most important blues singer that ever lived."

"Crossroads" became a signature song and concert staple for Clapton and is also the name of a festival that Eric started back in 2004. The Crossroads Guitar Festivals have showcased the cream of the guitar crop. The most recent shows were held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 12 and 13th, 2013.

The 2013 concerts were captured on film and on August 13, 2013 Fathom Events presented Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 at select movie theaters. Thus, the legendary guitar gig was larger than life on the big screen. Tuesday night, Soundpress.net caught the show at the AMC Garden State 16 in Paramus, New Jersey.

Part of what makes going to a concert exciting is the energy of the crowd and seeing the music performed live. However, attending a show in a movie theater also has its advantages. At the AMC in Paramus the seating is comfortable and spacious with the surround sound of the room enhancing the music. Seeing the talent on a large screen at times gave the viewer the feel of being on the side of the stage armed with a backstage pass. Funny enough as the movie progressed people at the AMC including ourselves clapped after songs as if we were in the live setting.

Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 was very much a celebration of the instrument yet the concert had its serious moments. The film began with Eric welcoming the crowd to the 4th guitar festival and playing "Tears In Heaven". As many may recall, the song was written in honor of Eric's son Conor who fell out of a NYC apartment window in 1991. The song was Clapton's way of coping with the death of his four year old. Clapton was accompanied by Andy Fairweather Low. Next, Vince Gill also armed with an acoustic joined the pair for a peppy version of "Lay Down Sally" enhanced by the layers of guitars including a pedal steel.

Collaborations were a big part of the Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 or as John Mayer put it a community. Mayer with Keith Urban performed "Don't Let Me Down" adding more of a jam to The Beatles' classic. Another great grouping was blues man Buddy Guy with sacred steel guitarist Robert Randolph. They put a lot of power into Buddy's "Damn Right I've Got the Blues". Guy was his usual gregarious self and nodded to his protégé Quinn Sullivan to take a guitar lead. Quinn who has been opening for Buddy for a number of years is 14 but he looked calm and cool playing to MSG with many a guitar great in the wings and Buddy beaming.

Singular performances also stood out including the "future of Texas blues" - Gary Clark Jr. Alone Gary played a twangy guitar and sang. His strumming was exceptional but what was even more impressive was that he was playing a cymbal and bass drum with his feet, thus handling lead and rhythm together. Clark was back later in the film fronting a band and sizzling on his guitar solos.

The Allman Brothers Band were in a blues groove before Eric joined them for "Why Does Love Have To Be So Bad" that had three guitar gods (Clapton, Haynes & Trucks) trading lavish licks backed by the double heavy beat of the Brothers.

Later, Gregg Allman with Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, all on acoustics performed Neil Young's "Damage Done". This sad song was very appropriate for the show as all the concerts have been fund raisers for the Crossroads Center.

The Crossroads Center is a drug treatment and educational facility in Antigua that was founded by Eric Clapton and Richard Conte. It opened in 1998 and is a long term facility geared towards helping people beat drug addiction and get back to the crossroads of a happier and healthier life.

Other great moments at the Crossroads included Robert Cray with Los Lobos, Jeff Beck and Eric jamming with the one and only Keith Richards. Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 was filled with many close-ups of the players allowing fans to really see their faces and fingers. There were also shots of New York City and behind the scene clips that added to the effect of being a VIP.

It is likely that Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 will be released in other formats and become a must have for guitar fans. However, seeing the MSG concerts at a Fathom Events enhanced the festival both sonically and visually.

Fathom Events is a unique entertainment vehicle for Broadway productions, comedy, concerts, opera and sports. Fathom Events hosts one-night, limited run events at select movie theaters. Their shows are presented in digital surround sound with super sized screens creating an all encompassing experience.

The 2013 Crossroads line up included The Allman Brothers Band, Blake Mills, Booker T., Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Gregg Allman, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Keith Richards, Keith Urban, Los Lobos, Robert Cray, Sonny Landreth, Vince Gill and Warren Haynes. Please check out http://www.fathomevents.com for a full list of up-coming presentations.

Related Links: For more information on the CROSSROADS GUITAR FESTIVAL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Crossroads Guitar Festival | Fathom Events

(Originally Published on August 15, 2013)

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