Dear Mr. B:

I’m not going to blow a lot of time explaining why I’m writing you for Christmas gift advice at this late hour. I’ll simply say that it’s been one of those years: alien abduction; 6-month coma; stranded on a volcanic island with a rabid panda; a minor rear-end collision; wrongly accused of a crime I didn’t commit but saved by a last-minute stay of execution by the governor … you know – the usuals.

Time’s a’wastin’, Mr. B, and I need the one present that’s perfect for my significant other, a total worshipper of all things guitar. I’m looking for something that knows no boundaries, transports one to a higher level of consciousness and awareness, plus has a good beat and makes you want to dance. Oh – and coming in at under 25 bucks wouldn’t help, either. (I lost my wallet on the alien space craft.)

I know you hear this all the time, Mr. B, but I don’t know where the world would be without you. If anyone can save Christmas, you’re the guy.

Waiting for the word,
Busted Nearly Flat In Baton Rouge

Dear Busted:

Jeez – you couldn’t do any better than that excuse-wise?

Well, whatever – that was then, this is now, and you need some Christmas guidance. Done deal, my friend: zip out and nail a copy of the Crossroads: Eric Clapton Guitar Festival 2010 DVD. That’ll do the trick, fo’ sho’.

What we have here is a double-disc DVD set shot live at ol’ EC’s get-together in Chicago this past June. And whether your significant other is a picker themselves or simply a compulsive air guitarist, this’ll spin their head around with a solid four hours’ worth of tunes, backstage banter, and plenty of heart and soul.

The moments of sheer musical pleasure to be found on Crossroads are way, way too numerous to get into right now (you’ve got some shopping to do). It begins with the ‘gator snot-funk of “Promise Land” featuring Mr. Clapton and even-when-you-can-see-him-you-still-don’t-believe-it slide wizard Sonny Landreth and ends with B.B. King holding court over a whole stage full of six-stringers for “The Thrill is Gone”. In between is everything from plenty of Texas-style grease and grime, some blues-based psychedelia, helpings of crispy twang, and even some mid-afternoon jazz breezes.

For yours truly, it’s the moments when the emotion of right now overcomes the whos, the wheres, and the whys that are the makings of Crossroads. When the legendary Hubert Sumlin rises to his feet at the end of “Killing Floor” – just ‘cause he can’t sit still any longer – and almost rips his oxygen tank out of the rack, that’s the real thing. When Albert Lee and Vince Gill grin at each other like fools as James Burton tears off a … well … a James Burton lick, that’s the real deal, too. You can get lost in the amazing interaction among Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, and Warren Haynes on Delaney & Bonnie’s “Coming Home” or you can marvel at the stark beauty of Bert Jansch holding 30,000 people’s hearts hostage with a solo rendition of “Blackwaterside”. (And, yes, in case you’re wondering – Mr. Clapton was definitely on for this one, Busted. His best work these days seems to come when he’s inspired by others.)

Add in the occasional blast of weirdness provided by master of ceremonies Bill Murray dressed up as everyone from Buddy Holly to Jimi Hendrix and it’s quite a time. And by the way, profits from the sale of the DVD benefit Clapton’s Crossroads Center for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, so you can know that you did your part on that front, too.

So there you have it, Busted: the answer to your dilemma in one fell swoop. And when you buzz out to grab a copy of Crossroads, keep an eye out for those space ships, my friend. ‘Tis the season, you know.

Merry Christmas to all from your old buddy,
Mr. B