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Spending a Weekend in Guitar Heaven

Part Three

[Italian version]

Event Coverage by Scott Faller - TNT USA
Published - July, 2004

Sunday was the big day. The day that everybody shows up for the main event at the Cotton Bowl. From 11am until 11pm, artist after artist performs on the big stage.

Oh God, He's Whining Again....

Well, if Saturday hit with a dull thud, Sunday was like being forced to eat liver and onions. Sunday morning brought a press corps meeting. As luck would have it, there were only a limited number of photo passes that were being handed out. To top that off, word had it that when the 'big' artists got on stage, they were going to clear out the photo pit. That means if you were lucky enough to get a photo pass, when the 'big stars' came out, you had to shoot them from about 1000 feet. That should make for some interesting photos.

I could probably have BS'ed my way into a photo pass but I decided that the guys who do this for a living needed the pass more than I did. This is how these guys make a living, selling photo's to magazines. Mighty magnanimous of me if I don't say so myself. Hey, did I just use another polysyllabic word? I'd better be careful, somebody might take me seriously for a change....

Storm Clouds Do Have Silver Linings Sometimes......

I suppose the big boss was looking after me on this one. Guess who else was at the show? Ron Welborne. That's right, Ron Welborne of Welborne Labs fame and fortune was there with his son and snuck his camera into the big event.

Ron and I were going to hook up Saturday for a burger and a beer but in the midst of 15-20,000 people, we never saw each other. All of the pics I'm using for todays coverage are from our newly appointed, temporary TNT-Audio, cub correspondent, Ron Welborne (thanks Ron, you're a lifesaver).

Since I wasn't able to get into the photo pit, I decided to venture out and try to make some more contacts with the artists management teams. One of the guys I was able to make contact with was Pat Metheny's manager. Right now, Pat has just finished up a new studio album and will be heading back out on the road this fall. If all goes well, look for an interview and album review sometime in September or October. Keep your fingers crossed, after all, this is the music industry.

As for interviewing any of the artists on Sunday, well, they did set up a tent for us to do interviews but nobody showed up. Well, I shouldn't say nobody. Steve Vai and Vince Gill did stop by the tent. Guess who wasn't there? Me. I was off trouping around trying to dig up something solid. Oh well, opportunity knocked and I was out goofing off.

The Big Show

As you can see from Sundays lineup, it was going to be one looong day in the Cotton Bowl. Now, during much of the main events, I was off trying to make contacts. Since my brother Billy and I left our wives in our seats, we went back fairly often to see how they were doing and catch a bit of the shows.

I've got to say, there was some really good music all day. It was also pretty interesting listening to the crowds reaction to the eclectic mix of performers they all got to witness. We had a couple sitting next to us that had flown in from the Netherlands just for the three day event. They had a great time and said it was worth every penny, deutsche mark, pound sterling or whatever the currency is in the that neck of the woods.

The artist line up and amount of time they each played changed on the fly as you can imagine for an event of this size. They had several Diamond Vision Jumbo-Trons set up so you could see what was going on. Our seats in the stands were OK'ish. The sound system was turned up way too loud but anymore, that's pretty typical of a rock concert.

I'll show the pictures in the order of the lineup sheet for ease.

this place was packed with close to 50,000 people

As you can see, the stage was monstrous. They actually had two separate stages set up. One on the left side where you see BB King and Jimmie. The center stage was used for the rotating acts and for the main performers that would be out later this evening.

Steve Vai

Steve came out and did his usual smokin set. The ultimate axemaster to many, Steve tore up the neck of his custom made guitar with his usual flare.

Pat Metheny

Here is the guy that I heard the most comments about. Between Pat and Larry Carlton, most everybody I overheard, said they were really impressed with how good they both were and how they had never heard these guys played on the radio. Not surprising. Some of the most gifted musicians never see any (or very little) airtime. One weekend this winter, look for an expose on how the music industry actually works and how artists get airtime. You will be appalled, I guarantee it.

Anyway, Pat in his signature striped shirt, came out and did a great set with Christian McBride on bass and probably the music industries best drummer (bar none), Antonio Sanchez. This fall look for his new disc in stores and the accompanying tour.

Joe Walsh

After a few more performers, out pops Joe Walsh. Joe is always a crowd pleaser. He used his best one liner on the crowd, “If I knew I was going to have to perform this song at every show I do for the rest of my life......I'd have written something different.” Needless to say, Rocky Mountain Way got played next.

James Taylor

Not to be a spoil sport, but I'm wondering how this guy got on the bill. Now I like JT as much as the next guy, I suppose. For some reason when you think of the names Eric Clapton, BB King, Steve Vai, Jimmie Vaughan, Carlos Santana....James Taylor just doesn't fit in. I guess it was to give the girls someone to get excited about. Well, maybe not excited per se, but give them something they can sing along to. Most of the guys were just about ready to nod off until........

Joe Walsh ... again

........ out pops Joe Walsh in the middle of JT's set to rip off a few notes to wake everybody back up again. Gotta love Joe!

Jimmie Vaughan

The next few pics are from the Sunday All-Star Jam. Jimmie Vaughan and Tilt-A-Whirl got everybody warmed up with a song or two. Then out came ......

John Mayer, Buddy Guy, BB King and Eric Clapton

BB King and Jimmie

The King gettin with it

The guys all played some great tunes. They traded tons of licks. You could see BB and Eric yuking it up watching Buddy be Buddy. He really is a ham when he gets in front of a crowd. Like I mentioned in Part 2, Buddy works his butt off to keep you entertained. After a few songs BB said thanks to Eric for inviting him to play at the event, said goodbye to the crowd, then BB and Eric left the stage.

Ooou, Controversy

This is where things got a little heated. This left the fresh meat (John Mayer) on stage with Jimmie Vaughan and Buddy Guy. Well, they all traded notes for a while. Jimmie out of respect for Buddy, never tried to show him up. Jimmie would rip of a few bars of really cool blues licks then Buddy would step up and take control.

Cuttin' Heads

Enter John Mayer. During this entire set, Buddy had been egging on John. Basically challenging him to see what he's made of. John would put his all out there and Buddy's come back would make all else seem pale in comparison.

To give you an idea what I'm talking about, in the days of yore, when blues guys would duel it out on stage, one guy would rip some killer series of chords, then walk to the other side of the stage (or something) and act like the other blues man on the stage didn't exist. This was all about. Showmanship and getting the crowd riled up. It makes for great musical theatre.

Well, guess what happened here? Buddy challenges John Mayer. Buddy rips off this killer bar or two then holds this huge bent note. While he's still holding this big bent note, he walks right in front of John Mayer, grabs his water and takes a big, long drink. When he finally sets the drink down, he lets loose of the cord and struts back to the other side of the stage. It was the ultimate taunt.

Brother Billy and I just look at each other and say Whooooooa!!! While this whole thing is going on, Jimmie is hiding at the back of the stage with his head down playing rhythm guitar. He knows what's going on and doesn't want any part of it.

Last Man Standing

Next thing you know, John Mayer steps up and does his best. Notice JM sticking his head out at Buddy in the above picture and Buddy just watching. John rips off a few bars of an OK solo, holds his guitar out at Buddy, then drops it on the stage and walks off as if to say "FU and the horse you rode in on". Buddy got pissed, big time.

Within 30 seconds Buddy finished the song, said “That's it Folks, shows over.” and stomped off the stage after John Mayer. Poor Jimmie was standing there wondering what the heck just happened. If what John Mayer did wasn't so pathetic, it would have been funny. I'd have to guess, John Mayer won't be asked to sit in with any of these guys anytime soon.

It's kind of strange, I asked around to the other press members and they didn't see what Billy and I both witnessed. I guess I scooped them, sort of.

The Stage All Lit Up

As the afternoon and evening roared on, Carlos Santana came out and played. Eric came out to join in. Afterwards Eric played a great solo set. Following Eric was that little ole band from Texas, ZZ Top.

Unfortunately, heavy weather set in. While ZZ Top was playing, the stagehands started taking down all of the large banners. They were afraid that of the wind caught them, the whole stage would come crashing down. After ZZ Top finished their set, they called the concert because of the thunderstorms that were rolling through Dallas at the time. We actually pulled up stakes and left during ZZ top, not wanting to get caught in the downpour.

What the Event was All About........The Fundraiser

At 6:00 pm on June 24th 2004, Christies Auction House in Rockefeller Center opened bidding on Lot 1. This guitar was Eric Clapton's circa 1898 Martin O-18 acoustic guitar. The guitar he used for composition at his home. The Auction estimate was conservatively set at $3,000 - $5,000. When the gavel dropped, Eric's 'home guitar' brought $38,850 USD.

This was the pace setter for the evenings events. For the rest of the evening, the guitars graciously donated by Eric and his closest friends set record after record. In fact, three separate World Records were set during this auction. All of the proceeds for the auction went to the Crossroads Rehabilitation Centre in Antigua.

With very conservative auction estimates of 1.5 to 2 million set during the planning of this event, everybody was blown away when the final tally totaled more than $7.4 million USD. A tidy sum.


I hope you enjoyed the coverage we brought to you from the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival. I'd personally like to thank Ron Welborne for literally saving my butt on the Sunday pics. Go pay him a visit at his website. Ron offers a variety of affordable DIY kits, super smooth sounding assembled amps and tons of other audiophile gadgetry. Plus he's just a plain old nice guy.

As a sidebar, on the long drive home, we stopped in Springfield Missouri to get a room for the night. When we pulled off the highway, we were immediately greeted by almost 5000 street rods. My wife and I had pulled right into the middle of the 2004 Hot Rod Magazine Road Tour.

1932 Twin Coach Milk Delivery Van

There were some amazing street rods everywhere we looked. Here is just one of the more unique rides we found at a local eatery. We went inside and were greeted by tons of gear-heads and Game three of Cards Cubs series on the tube. The food was good, the Cards pulled the game out in the ninth inning, and we went out after dinner to drool on all the cool cars. It was a nice end to a long weekend.

[Click here for Part I] | [Click here for Part II]


© Copyright 2004 Scott Faller - www.tnt-audio.com

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