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Crossroads Revisited
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  • Eric Clapton instituted the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 1999 as a way to raise funds for his Crossroads Centre Antigua, a rehab facility he founded in 1998. Over the next 14 years, the Crossroads Guitar Festival became a semi-regular thing, always featuring a Slowhand-curated crop of guitarists. Barring the 1999 fest, each of these years -- 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013 -- were recorded and released as CDs and DVDs, which makes the 2016 triple-disc Crossroads Revisited: Selections from the Crossroads Guitar Festivals a sampler of these particular records. Although Jeff Beck relies heavily on his 1989 album Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop, there are no surprises either in artists or song selections, although the execution can occasionally take a left turn; ZZ Top's heavy, churning "Waiting for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago" is entirely instrumental. Time has shifted the tenor of some of the selections, too: B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, and J.J. Cale have all passed since their appearances at Crossroads, so their presence carries some poignancy. Generally, though, this is big, bright shiny stadium guitar music, a proud showcase for chops whose interest relies entirely on how much the listener likes blues-based rock guitar solos. There are some exceptions to this rule -- Sheryl Crow was here to sing country songs in 2010, while 2004 saw Vince Gill and Jerry Douglas stop by and Joe Walsh playing "Steam Roller" with James Taylor, but this is a place where John Mayer and Gary Clark, Jr. are the new guns -- although this festival was designed so that Albert Lee, Derek Trucks, Robert Cray, Beck, and Clapton himself could stretch out, which they do repeatedly. Not necessarily performances for the ages but solid all the same. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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