Eric Clapton set the tone early on when shortly after noon he guested with Sonny Landreth during “The Promise Land” during Saturday’s Crossroads Guitar Festival at Chicago’s Toyota Park. Clapton had first appeared 20 minutes earlier to join emcee Bill Murray who scratched out a version of “Not Fade Away” to open the fest. Collaborations took place throughout the 11 hour event which saw a special version of Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band, sub for the Allman Brothers Band, which was sidelined due to Gregg Allman’s recent liver transplant surgery. Joining Trucks and Tedeschi were Warren Haynes, Johnny Winter and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo for a set that included Delaney and Bonnie’s “Coming Home.”
Guest musicians enlivened many of the other performances. Vince Gill brought out Elvis Presley guitarist James Burton for “Mystery Train” and Gill’s group also backed Keb’ Mo’, Earl Klugh and Albert Lee. Another notable set was turned in by Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang and Ronnie Wood who stepped out for a set that included a take on the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.”
Eric Clapton’s set saw two familiar names join him as well. Jeff Beck, who had preceded Clapton on the stage with his own group, came back out for “Shake Your Moneymaker.” Steve Winwood then emerged for a nod back to Blind Faith on such songs as “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Glad,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and “Well All Right.”
Crossroads later concluded with a true guitar army. BB King performed a version of “Rock Me Baby” with Clapton, Robert Cray and Jimmy Vaughn. Then Buddy Guy and many of the guitarists who appeared through the event stepped out for “Sweet Home Chicago” with Tedeschi on lead vocals.
Before the evening concluded Clapton also explained that while heading in he had thought this would be the final Crossroads, he had changed his mind and “I don’t think it will be.”