|Although it could have been twice as long, this double-DVD set effectively captures over three hours of highlights from one of the most comprehensive and diverse collection of guitarists ever assembled for a single event. Recorded over three days in June of 2004 to benefit Eric Clapton's Crossroads Center in Antigua (as do the sales of this set), the show is not surprisingly heavy on the rootsy blues and country that comprise Clapton's primary inspirations. But it also includes folk (James Taylor), gospel (Robert Randolph & the Family Band), fret-shredding rockers (Steve Vai who delivers a dazzling performance), jazz (John McLaughlin), and, most interestingly, Indian classical music (a stunning piece from Vishwa Mohan Bhatt).
Most compelling are the rare and sometimes unusual collaborations. Joe Walsh and Taylor clown around on "Steamroller Blues," and Booker T. & the M.G.'s back both Joe Walsh on a rollicking "Rocky Mountain Way" and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo tearing into a sizzling "The Neighborhood." Clapton and J.J. Cale share the stage as do Clapton and Carlos Santana, and a show-stopping blues summit with Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, Hubert Sumlin, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Clapton is a treat for all involved.
There are some shortcomings. The event isn't presented in chronological order--different stages, days, and backing bands are shuffled with Clapton's own set scattered throughout--ZZ Top's closing is a bit anticlimactic, and there are many omissions due to time constraints. But every act rises to the occasion, and this expertly recorded and shot DVD gives the viewer a front-row seat to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. --Hal Horowitz