Eric Clapton

Springsteen, Clapton, Phish Bust Out of NOLA Jazz Fest Line-Up

Springsteen, Clapton, Phish Bust Out of NOLA Jazz Fest Line-Up

The lineup for this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has just been released, with Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Christina Aguilera, Phish and Arcade Fire among the acts scheduled to headline the 45th anniversary edition of the event, spanning two weekends this spring. Jazz Fest will take place at the Fair Grounds Race Course on April 25th-27th and May 1st-4th.

Other artists confirmed for the musical smorgasbord include Vampire Weekend, Santana, Robin Thicke, Robert Plant, Foster the People, Public Enemy, The Avett Brothers, Charlie Wilson, Alabama Shakes, John Fogerty, Trey Songz, Lyle Lovett, Ruben Blades, Johnny Winter and The Head and the Heart.

The festival has become renowned for representing solid Louisiana talent, and this year looks to be no different. Among the hundreds of Louisiana natives scheduled to appear over the two weekends are Trombone Shorty, Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Better Than Ezra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Galactic, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Cowboy Mouth and Big Freedia.

As one of the biggest events on the festival calendar, NOLA manages to shake its lineup around every year, which is no mean feat when you consider how long it’s been around.

As The Times-Picayune explains, “The vast majority of the hundreds of acts on the schedule are native to, or based in, south Louisiana. But it is the “visiting” acts, the marquee names that inevitably headline the festival’s main Acura, Congo Square and Gentilly stages that generate the most discussion. In keeping with the blueprint of recent Jazz Fests, the 2014 headliners are a mix of contemporary and veteran rock, pop and R&B stars.”

“This is the hardest festival for me to answer the question, ‘Who are looking forward to seeing most?’” said Quint Davis, the festival’s longtime producer/director. “You can’t answer that question in the singular. This year, talent-wise, is something we’ve been growing toward. One reason is the type of festival that we’ve created, this broad, cultural, community-based palette that is designed to have these different kinds of music. From our end, it’s varied and deep. But from the other side, it means that these artists in these varied areas want to play the festival. It’s meaningful to them to be here.”

Eric Clapton’s Love Affair With The Guitar

Eric Clapton’s Love Affair With The Guitar

Blues-rock legend Eric Clapton is not only widely regarded as one of the greatest axemen of all time, but alongside the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Hank Marvin, was an instrumental figure in the popularization of the guitar in the 1960s.

Just as much a fan-boy of the instrument today as he was back during his teenage beginnings, Clapton has continued to extol the virtues of the guitar with the likes of the Crossroads Festival and the recent recreation of four of his favorite models for the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Collection.

But his love affair with the guitar began as a 15-year-old when he picked up the same acoustic Hoyer guitar that he’d abandoned two years previously. After spending hours learning the chords of his favorite blues songs every day, his advanced technique then began to attract attention while he busked along the streets of the West End.

Whilst in The Yardbirds, Clapton used a variety of guitars including the Fender Telecaster and the Gretsch 6120 before becoming synonymous with the Gibson brand, particularly the Gibson Les Paul and the 1964 Gibson SG, the latter of which was famously repainted with a psychedelic design for Cream’s first ever US TV appearance. The importance Clapton placed on the latter was confirmed in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine when he claimed that “it had become part of my body – it was just part of my existence.”

But it was the Cherry-Red Gibson ES-335 that went onto have the most checkered history, featuring at the last Cream show in 1968, the From The Cradle sessions of 1994 and his live Hyde Park gig in 1996, eventually selling for a whopping $847,500 at a 2004 auction.

In the late 60s, Clapton switched back to the Fender Stratocaster, the model he’d been inspired to choose as a youngster thanks to the likes of Buddy Holly and Buddy Guy. Nicknamed due to its sunburst brown finish, Brownie then made way for the most famous guitar of his career, Blackie.

Assembled from three of the six guitars he bought in Nashville, the others of which were given to George Harrison, Steve Winwood and Pete Townshend, the ‘mongrel’ first made its debut in 1973 at his Rainbow Concert in London. It was then used throughout his 70s/80s career before being retired at a 1991 gig at the Royal Albert Hall and later fetched over $950,000 at a Christie’s auction to support the drug and alcohol rehab center Clapton founded in Antigua.

Returning the favor for championing their brand, Fender then honored Clapton in 1988 with the introduction of his signature Eric Clapton Stratocaster and has also since been courted by C.F. Martin & Company, who have presented him with seven different custom-made models over the years.

The cultural significance of Clapton’s guitar collection was further highlighted when he raised more than $2.15 million in 2011 after auctioning over 150 items, including a replica of Blackie, a guitar from the 2005 Cream reunion tour and a 1984 Gibson hollow body guitar.

What Clapton did with his guitars remains a source of wonderment for both his peers and the artists he influenced. Rolling Stone magazine recently placed him second only to Jimi Hendrix as the greatest guitarist of all time, with Eddie Van Halen revealing that some of his early blues solos have been permanently imprinted in his brain. While in a recent Top 50 Guitarists poll conducted by Gibson.com, his solo on The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was described as the defining piece of guitar music of all time.

As well as paying homage to the artists who inspired his sound such as B.B King on 2000’s Riding With The King, Robert Johnson on 2004’s Me and Mr. Johnson and J.J. Cale on 2006’s The Road To Escondido, Clapton has also focused his attention on showcasing the skills of other acclaimed guitarists with the staging of the triennial Crossroads Guitar Festival, with everyone from Jeff Beck to ZZ Top to Los Lobos receiving the Clapton seal of approval.

10 Famous Musicians Afflicted with Hearing Loss

10 Famous Musicians Afflicted with Hearing Loss

Even more so than vision, a musician’s hearing is considered essential to his songwriting for obvious reasons. Constructing even a basic melody can be an obstacle with hearing loss, even if only affects one ear – as is the case with most of the musicians below. While it is incredibly rare for a successful musician to be entirely deaf, there are many afflicted with some form of hearing loss, inflicted naturally or by years of enduring loud music and re-takes. This has often forced them to alter their songwriting and performing methods, but judging by the quality of artists below it has only rarely impacted their ability to create a stunning song:

Ludwig van Beethoven
The most notable deaf musician, Beethoven began experiencing hearing loss in 1800, when he was 30. He was almost entirely deaf two years later, but that didn’t stop the classical genius from writing some of his most well-regarded works. His Symphony No. 9, The Consecration of the House, and the highly progressive Late String Quartets remain some of his most noted works, despite being arranged when Beethoven was nearly deaf.

Brian Wilson
Often called the greatest American pop songwriter of all time, and for good reason, Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson has been nearly deaf in his right ear since childhood. Theories range from Wilson being born with partial deafness to his demanding father abusing him. Regardless, Wilson’s deafness was no obstacle; his left ear proved to be more adept than most people’s two ears combined. This made Wilson forever favorable toward mono over stereo, but it’s not like the best Beach Boys tracks need to be in stereo to show their pure and utter genius.

Pete Townshend
The Who, like many great rock bands of the ‘60s and ‘70s, endured plenty of shows that featured loud fans and instrumental feedback. The band’s guitarist, Pete Townsend, suffers from partial deafness due to his years of exposure. Specifically, he has tinnitus – where one hears a constant ringing in their ears. Townsend later became involved in the initial funding for H.E.A.R., Hearing Education and Awareness for Rocker. Townsend struggled to create music in the late ‘00s due to increasing hearing loss, but lately has used cutting-edge production technology to combat his partial deafness and make songwriting/production easier.

Ayumi Hamasaki
Although most popular in her native Japan, pop star Ayumi Hamasaki is one of the best-selling artists in the world. She has sold over 53 million records in Japan alone, and maintains a cult international fan base. To much of her fans’ dismay, Hamasaki announced in 2008 that she has complete deafness in her left ear. The problem dated back to 2000, but she assured fans it wouldn’t stop her from continuing to perform. Since then, she has released six new albums, and remains as popular as ever. Even partial deafness isn’t stopping the Japanese queen of pop.

Johnnie Ray
Although not known to most younger audiences, singer/songwriter and pianist Johnnie Ray was an early pop songwriter whose work became a stepping stone for rock ‘n’ roll artists of the late ’50s and throughout the ’60s. Perhaps noted for UK #1 Christmas hit “Just Walkin’ in the Rain”, it was unknown to most that Ray became deaf in his right ear at age 13. He was completely deaf in both ears by 1958, though hearing aids made his life a lot easier – even as he stopped making music entirely in 1961. Still, Ray appeared on television frequently and jovially throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s before his death in 1990 at the age of 63.

Nico
The sultry voice behind The Velvet Underground was deaf in one ear, which is no surprise to critics that railed her as “tone deaf”. While this would be an insult to vocalists in most cases, for Nico it was part of her trademark. Her nonchalantly deadpan croon was a trademark of The Velvet Underground, and years later it’s obvious fans would not prefer it any other way.

Eric Clapton
Much like Pete Townsend, Clapton was big in a time when sold-out arenas and loud guitar feedback was typical. And as they’re both still active musically, it’s little surprise that Clapton has endured hearing loss as a result of his career as well. Clapton told the press in 2006 that he suffers from mild tinnitus. “My hearing isn’t ruined, but if I stop and listen I’ve got whistling all the time which I suppose is a mild tinnitus,” he said. “If I’m playing any music at home these days it’s probably classical, mainly because I haven’t got much hearing left.”

Sean Forbes
Hip-hop artist and producer Sean Forbes represents the new generation of deaf musicians, who are able to access special programs like R.I.T./N.T.I.D that cater to hard-of-hearing music lovers. In 2006, he co-founded D-PAN, a non-profit organization that helps make music accessible to the deaf. He shows that anyone who loves music, no matter how hard of hearing, can land a record deal with hard work and a genuine passion for music.

Neil Young
Neil Young has a “Heart of Gold”, but he also has tinnitus – much like fellow rock stars Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend. Young has plenty of bittersweet ballads that don’t rely as much on volume or ferocity, but playing harder-rocking gems like “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” hundreds of times can certainly attribute to some hearing damage. Judging by how recently Young still puts material out, it doesn’t seem to be affecting him too bad.

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy’s hearing loss may be one of the most obvious on this list, as he is one of the innovators of the “hard-rock” label. Add to that a tireless work ethic and a generally reckless demeanor and you have the recipe for rock-driven hearing loss. “I am almost deaf and only understand something if someone is standing directly in front of me,” Ozzy said. It certainly hasn’t stopped him from the much-anticipated reunion with Black Sabbath this year, whose new album 13 will be released on June 11th.

Keith Richards Makes Surprise Appearance at Clapton’s Crossroads Festival

Keith Richards Makes Surprise Appearance at Clapton’s Crossroads Festival

The Rolling Stones have spent the last year or so pushing back their 50th anniversary tour and finally scheduling a trek shorter than was originally anticipated, and the band’s apparent reluctance to perform made it even more surprising when Keith Richards showed up as a special, unannounced guest at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival.

Richards showed up for the final set of the two-night festival at Madison Square Garden in New York over the weekend, and performed two songs with Clapton: “Key to the Highway” and “Sweet Little Rock N’ Roller.” Richards introduced the latter by saying, “Now we’re gonna rock it up.”

Billboard reports that the Rolling Stones’ guitarist received the longest ovation of the festival when he appeared on stage, which is saying something considering the guitar royalty present. This included B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Jeff Beck as well as younger artists like John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr. and Derek Trucks.

The Crossroads festival has been presented by Clapton every three years since 2004, and it appears he will wait the same amount of time before staging the next one. “See you in three years,” he said just before exiting the stage after the final performance of the night.

Robbie Robertson of the Band also showed up as a special guest during Clapton’s final set, and sang the classic “I Shall Be Released.” The Band is one of my favorite groups, and it’s a shame that none of the singers are around any more (Danko/Manuel/Helms). Still, that doesn’t mean that Robertson should go around singing the old songs. There’s a reason he didn’t do it in the first place, and he’s a fine enough guitar player to appear at the festival and keep his mouth shut.

Billboard also says one of the highlights came from Vince Gill, Keith Urban and Albert Lee. Urban is known these days for his massive number one Country hits, but is also known around Nashville as one of the best guitarists in country music. Gill has long been known as a great guitar player, as well.

Concert Review: Eric Clapton at Gwinnett Arena in Atlanta

Concert Review: Eric Clapton at Gwinnett Arena in Atlanta

There are few things more iconic in music than Eric Clapton. Its impossible to have a discussion about the best guitarist of all time without mentioning his name. He is the only three time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (Creme, the Yardbirds and solo respectively). He’s won seventeen Grammy Awards, influenced countless musicians and has even given back with his Crossroads drug treatment center in Antigua. It wouldn’t be far fetched to take the easy way out by saying Clapton is the greatest thing since sliced bread and wrap this review right here. The question, planted in mind coming into his concert at the Gwinnett Arena, was does Clapton still have it? Granted, he’s accomplished more than any musician’s wet dream could imagine, but Slowhand has pushed the odometer past 67. His most recent album Old Sock more easily fits into the adult contemporary section of the record store than it does rockin’ blues. Has age finally caught up with the master, and would that make him lose a step onstage during his 50th anniversary tour?

Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers opened the evening promptly at 7:30. The Wallflowers have struggled for relevance since bursting out of the gate with their four-time platinum album Bringing Down the Horse in 1996. They’ve released a handful of albums in the years since, but were never able to capture lightning in a bottle twice. They shelved the band for a spell then Dylan pulled the group of merry men together again last year. They’ve released a new album, Glad All Over, and have toured with a few select festival appearances. Supporting Eric Clapton, the Wallflowers were largely what you’d expect — a 90s band heavily leaning on their success of yester year. They trotted out the hits. “6th Avenue Heartache,” check. “Three Marlenas,” check. “The Difference,” check. Of course no Wallflowers set would be complete without “One Headlight.” It was like we were entering a time warp back to 1996. Quick, someone give me some flannel. Dylan and the boys sounded good, but the set was ultimately dated. It did occur to me tonight that Jakob’s vocals sound more like Bruce Springsteen than dear old dad.

It wasn’t long before Eric Clapton hit the stage with an eight-piece backing band. This isn’t just a bunch of scrubs pulled in off the streets. He’s cherry picked some bad asses to share the stage with. You’ve got Steve Jordan on drums (John Mayer Trio), Paul Carrack on keys (Ace, Squeeze), Willie Weeks on bass, Chris Stainton also on keys, and Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar. I imagine if Clapton calls you up and asks if you want to go on tour with him, you basically treat it as a rhetorical question. The only thing you ask is what time do I need to show up.

Clapton didn’t dally about kicking right in to “Hello Old Friend.” He started out the set rather unassumingly on guitar as he walked through the melody of “My Father’s Eyes.” Then he took the gloves off, strapping on the electric guitar. With the ax draped over his shoulder, Clapton at once seemed at home on stage.

When you see an Eric Clapton concert, you are basically signing on for a guitar showcase. He is a great musician, fabulous singer, but his seduction of the chords take the guitar to another dimension. Lots of artists stretch songs out by jamming away to the point of pretentiousness. When Clapton does it, it just makes sense. He is finding and ultimately following the groove. Like a fine wine, he’s letting the guitar breathe and the sounds that hit your palate carry with them generations of musical craftsmanship. It is a wonder to behold.

He was having a lot of fun on stage. This gritty rock bathed in the blues poured from his guitar on tracks like “Gotta Get Over” and “Black Cat Bone.” His voice amazingly showed no wear from age.

As much as I loved watching him tame the electric guitar, he may have actually been more impressive when he stripped down the sound by donning the acoustic guitar midway through the set. Quieter numbers like “Lay Down Sally,” “Tears in Heaven” and “Layla” commanded a softer, more thoughtful approach. Its easy to see why he put MTV’s Unplugged on the map back in 1992 with his famous concert.

He’d pick up the electric guitar once more to power through greats like “Crossroads” and “Cocaine.” The crowd was heavily riled up as he exited the stage to subsequently emerge for the encore. He dusted off “Sunshine of Your Love” before surrendering the mic to keyboardist Paul Carrack.

One of the interesting things about having Carrack around is you can have him play a few tracks from the catalog of bands he’s been affiliated with. Clapton took an uncharacteristic backseat as Carrack performed Ace’s “How Long” and squeezed in “Tempted.” Carrack even closed out the encore with “High Time We Went.” Given Clapton’s prolific catalog, he didn’t have to cede the microphone for a song, but you almost got the feeling that he enjoyed taking a moment where it was just him and the guitar. That relationship is something they’ll write books about.

I really can’t shower enough praise on Clapton’s performance. There is ridiculous amount of soul trapped into a pasty British guy. The blues are a dying art form, and he is keeping them alive one concert at a time. After seeing this performance, there is no worries that the adult contemporary mush of his latest album of Old Sock is bleeding through into his live act. Eric Clapton is the same master guitarist that turned heads with the Yardbirds and Creme in the 60s. After 50 years, he is still one of the freshest sounds in music. He’s recently said he’d stop touring at age 70, just three years away. I’m happy I’ve crossed him off my bucket list, and truly hope its not the last time I see Slowhand live. No one in music does what Eric Clapton does on stage.

Eric Clapton Atlanta Setlist : The Arena at Gwinnett Center : March 27, 2013
Hello Old Friend
My Father’s Eyes
Tell the Truth
Gotta Get Over
Black Cat Bone
Got to Get Better in a Little While
Tempted
Badge
Driftin’ Blues
Lay Down Sally
Tears in Heaven
Layla
Wonderful Tonight
How Long
Stones in My Passway
Love in Vain
Crossroads
Little Queen of Spades
Cocaine

Encore
Sunshine of Your Love
High Time We Went

Three More Years to See Eric Clapton Live, Says He’ll Stop Touring at 70

Three More Years to See Eric Clapton Live, Says He’ll Stop Touring at 70

Eric Clapton has had it with life on the road.

The legendary guitarist says he’ll quit touring when he turns 70, which gives fans just three years to catch the 67-year-old before he packs it in. Fortunately there will be plenty of chances to do that, as Clapton will hit the road next month to support his upcoming album, Old Sock.

Additionally, he doesn’t plan to stop playing altogether or doing one-off shows, he’s just sick of the touring life.

“The bit onstage, that’s easy. If I could do that around my neighborhood, that would be great,” Clapton told Rolling Stone. “You have guys in Texas that play their circuit, and it keeps them alive. But for me, the struggle is the travel. And the only way you can beat that is by throwing so much money at it that you make a loss. So the idea is I’m taking a leaf out of JJ [Cale]‘s book: When I’m 70, I’ll stop. I won’t stop playing or doing one-offs, but I’ll stop touring, I think.”

Apparently it’s the airports that bother him the most.

“And security,” Clapton continues. “I never get it right. I forget to take off my belt, or I have change in my pocket. Next thing I know, ‘Can you come over here please?’ I just don’t want to do that anymore.”

But Clapton will be on tour starting with a March 14 show at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, and he will stay on the road in North America until his Crossroads Guitar Festival, which will be held at Madison Square Gardens on April 12-13. He also plans to play Houston, Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, and Atlanta on the tour.

The Crossroads festival will feature a slew of guitar heroes including B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Buddy Guy, among many others.

Greatest Guitarists of All Time

Greatest Guitarists of All Time

It’s a daunting task to list the greatest guitarists of all time. But these particular five have influenced legions of artists through sheer innovation and wonderful playing, touting both virtuosity and melodic wit in their unique craft. From the 1930s (Robert Johnson) to today (Sonic Youth), their influences are so great many aspiring guitarists immediately look to them for inspiration:

Jimi Hendrix
It’s well known that Jimi is considered to be one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived. Certainly it’s easy to get lost in the virtuoso perfection of “Purple Haze”, or the raucous excitement of “All Along the Watchtower”, but even listening to those on the greatest stereo system in existence does not give Hendrix’s eternal reverence its proper justification. For those old enough to know, Hendrix practically defined the term “stage presence” for a guitarist. By mixing the familiar sound of blues with recent invigorations of psychedelia and classic-rock, his sound was exciting and melodic while still leaving ample space for spur-of-the-moment creativity. Sure, he set his guitar on fire and his howl resonated into the night like no other, but his guitar playing remains the emphasis; it still sends chills up listeners’ spines several decades later. Hendrix was the ideal transition into classic-rock guitar playing, helping listeners moving past the Everly Brothers and Elvis into something new and exciting. There’s a reason why everyone from Eric Clapton to The Who idolized him, and still do to this day. It’s because no one will ever make guitar-playing sound as beautiful and invigorating as Jimi.

Robert Johnson
Many classic-rock heroes steeped in a bluesy sound, like Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, would have sounded drastically different if not for Robert Johnson, the master of the Mississippi Delta blues. Although his discography is limited to about 30 songs in the mid-1930s, it’s all Johnson needed to leave his mark. Urban legend says that Johnson’s guitar playing, which in the 1930s was the best in the world, came from a deal he made with the devil; he apparently sold his soul for the virtuoso abilities. Tales of drunken wanderings and womanizing were rampant in his music, so one could see how such a legend was concocted during a period of rampant racism. The inhumane repression of his time seeped into his music, but couldn’t stop his music from leaving an unforgettable mark. His guitar playing was of a mesmerizingly high technical nature, best summarized by Keith Richards’ shocked realization when he heard Johnson for the first time. Not realizing it was possible for one man to play such an eclectic sound on his own, Richards asked “Who is the other guy playing with him?” Johnson’s fingers were magic, and all guitar legends in this list agree. He could play material by himself that two expert guitarists would have difficulty collaborating on.

Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)
Sonic Youth’s music is defined by atmosphere, often concocted by the dual guitar attack of Moore and Ranaldo. Their avant-garde techniques employed a variety of idiosyncratic sounds; hazy blasts of distortion meshed with guitar sounds concocted from tools and appliances, creating sounds that somehow were melodic and harmonious. One reason was their mastery of prepared guitar, which alters the instrument’s timbre by placing objects on its strings. Sonic Youth’s reputation as “effects guitarists” may put some purists off, but the guitar duo’s innovation is worth noting alone. Perhaps the inventiveness is there because team grew up with differing influences; Ranaldo was a fan of Grateful Dead’s jam-band intricacy and Neil Young’s heartfelt melodies, while Moore idolized harder-rocking acts like The Stooges and Suicide. But cohesiveness came when working together. Through a mixture of drone-heavy backings, DIY effect techniques, and ripping solos, Moore and Ranaldo crafted some of the most striking guitar work of the ‘80s and beyond. Sonic Youth remain a huge influence for many risk-taking guitarists.

Eric Clapton
Clapton isn’t as technically gifted as the likes of Hendrix or Johnson, and doesn’t express the numbing art-rock innovation of Sonic Youth, but he’s one of the most skilled melodic guitarists to ever live. By touching on blues, psychedelia, and even heavy metal throughout his career with the Yardbirds, Cream, and as a solo artist, Clapton emphasized not only stylistic diversity but melody. Even through hectic examples of showmanship like “Layla”, there is a concise melodic spin apparent in all his work. Sarcastically nicknamed “slowhands” as a jesting reference to the speed of his playing, Clapton brilliantly juggles radio-friendly melodies with jaw-dropping guitar arrangements. And even on heartfelt efforts like “Tears in Heaven”, written after his son’s untimely death, the twangy guitar plays a large role – even when it’s not stunning audiences with roaring solos. There are few songwriters better able to juggle swooning melodies with depth-defying guitar virtuosity. Clapton is regarded as one of the most intuitive and melodic guitar-based songwriters ever for that reason.

B.B. King
The “King of the Blues” has influenced everyone from Clapton to George Harrison, joining Robert Johnson as the ultimate definer of blues-infused musicians from the ‘60s onward. King defines what listeners perceive today as a bluesy guitar solo; his creative use of pulsations and string-bending made for solos that were instantly recognizable as his own, full of the sensuality and coolness listeners widely associated with blues and blues-infused classic rock. King’s original songs, as well as the many he covered and ultimately made his own, flaunt his guitar playing as unique and unforgettable, technically inclined without sacrificing his trademark chilled-out demeanor. King’s notable use of vibrato, which flutters suavely like butterfly wings and is known as his famous “box position”, is a basic starting approach for all aspiring guitarists interested in blues. King, who will always be revered for creating such learning necessities, appeared at hundreds of shows every year until his seventies. Even at his current age of 87, King still makes plenty of appearances. We should consider ourselves lucky that his love for playing has never died. With the passionate way he always played guitar, it’s no surprise.

Eric Clapton Schedules Tour Dates Leading Up to Crossroads

Eric Clapton Schedules Tour Dates Leading Up to Crossroads

Earlier this year, Eric Clapton announced that the fourth incarnation of his Crossroads Guitar Festival will be held next year, and now he has released a slew of U.S. tour dates leading up to that event.

The tour will kick off on March 14, 2013 at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, and will run through an April 6 date at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Crossroads festival will then be held April 12-13 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Other cities on the tour itinerary include Houston, Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

The Wallflowers will open all dates on the tour.

Here’s how Clapton’s website describes the Crossroads Guitar Festival:

Over 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists play sidemen to each other over two nights at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, April 12-13.

The event will bring together some of most well-known guitar players from many musical genres. With Clapton, the expectation will be for blues and rock guitarists to make up the majority of the lineup, and these genres are represented by huge names including B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and the Allman Brothers Band. But country music also will be well-represented, and superstars Keith Urban, Vince Gill and Brad Paisley will perform at the event. The superb guitar skills of all three of those stars are often highly underrated. Finally, Jazz players including Earl Klugh and John Scofield will join in the festivities.

For Clapton’s tour, he will bring along his longtime backing band made up of Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Chris Stainton (piano), Steve Jordan (drums) and Willie Weeks (bass). Also joining the group this time around will be Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar), Paul Carrack (keyboards), and Michelle John and Sharon White (backing vocals).

Crossroads Guitar Festival Returns in 2013 at Madison Square Garden

Crossroads Guitar Festival Returns in 2013 at Madison Square Garden

The fourth incarnation of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival will be held in New York next year, according to a couple of musicians set to play the event.

An official announcement has yet to be made, but artists Sonny Landreth and Blake Mills announced that they would be playing the festival, which will be held April 12-13 of next year at Madison Square Garden. If past festivals are any indication, proceeds from the event will feature the Crossroads Centre, a drug treatment center in Antigua that was founded by Clapton.

The last Crossroads festival was held in Chicago in 2010. From the stage at that event, Clapton said that, “I know that I said this would be the last one, but I don’t think it will be.”

In addition to Eric Clapton, other notable performers at the 2010 version of the event included Jimmie Vaughan, John Mayer Trio and Sonny Landreth, in addition to Clapton. Before that, a 2007 incarnation of the festival was held in Bridgeview, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. That festival featured John Mayer, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Bill Murray, among others. The first Crossroads festival was held in 2004 in Dallas. Performers at that show included B.B. King, Robert Randolph, ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh and Booker T. & the M.G.’s

Blake Mills posted a letter online that he had received from Clapton inviting him to play the festival. Mills was formerly a member of the band Simon Dawes, which is now known as Dawes.

Sonny Landreth has performed at every Crossroads festival so far, and is a blues guitarists from Louisiana. He is particularly well known for his slide guitar playing. In addition to playing the festival, he has recently been involved with Jimmy Buffet’s recent summer tours. He released a solo album called Elemental Journey earlier this year.

Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood Book 12-Dates in Japan this Fall

Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton still haven’t made their way home. Instead they will be playing 12 dates this fall in Japan.

The former Blind Faith bandmates will be kicking off their Japan outing in Sapporo and will wrap the tour up in Tokyo with a multiple night stand.

The tour starts on November 17 at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center in Sapporo. They will also play at Yokohama Arena and Osaka for two nights- Castle Hall on November 21 and Jo hall on November 22. On November 24 the pair will visit Fukuoka, on November 26 they will be in Hiroshima, on November 28 in Kanazawa and on November 30 in Nagoya, before heading to Tokyo to perform at Budokan Hall for four nights on December 2-3 as well as December 6-7.

On June 24 general onsales start at udo.co.jp. Visit SteveWinwood.com or EricClapton.com for more information.

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