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Clapton’s Crossroads Fest Returns This Summer

All-star blues blowout includes Jeff Beck, BB King, Allmans and more

Rolling Stone IN Mar 10, 2010

John Davisson/Corbis

”˜I do it because I want to hear these players,” Eric Clapton says of his third Crossroads Guitar Festival, an all-day stars-of-guitar show to be held on June 26 at Chicago’s Toyota Park stadium. Like his 2004 and 2007 Crossroads concerts and the bestselling DVDs from those festivals, this year’s event benefits the Crossroads Centre, the addiction-treatment facility founded by Clapton in Antigua in the late Nineties. “But it’s a selfish thing,” he admits delightedly. “I can go to one place and hear all of my favourite musicians in one day.”

Nearly 30 of those favourites are confirmed for the show. Returning veterans of the first two Crossroads shows include Jeff Beck, Robert Cray, BB King, Los Lobos, ZZ Top, Steve Winwood, Louisiana slide-guitar ace Sonny Landreth and gospel-steel phenomenon Robert Randolph. Among the artists making their Crossroads debuts this year are the Allman Brothers Band, British folk-guitar master Bert Jansch and singer-guitarist Keb’ Mo’. “I wanted to open it up a little,” Clapton says of the bill, “so it’s not so much about virtuosity as roots.” Clapton is especially excited by the booking of reclusive bossa nova legend João Gilberto: “The whole thing was an excuse for getting him out of Brazil.”

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Clapton, who guested with many acts at the previous festivals, says the musical success and smooth production of the 2007 show and DVD encouraged him to do Crossroads at least one more time. “I’ve kind of said, ”˜We’ll do three.’ I’m a ”˜three’ guy.” And he believes Crossroads is not a typical music festival in that “it comes from the heart of a musician. It’s not a business deal, and there is an enlightenment in that. People realise we really love what we do.”

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