For the past five years, Eric Clapton has hosted a Crossroads Guitar Festival to raise money for his charity:  The Crossroads Center of Antigua.  This year’s festival — supposedly the last one ever — was held in Chicago on June 26th under a perilous sky and punishing heat.  The movie version of the festival is now available for purchase on iTunes for $20.00USD — or your can rent it for $4.00USD.  I plucked the purchase route, and I’ve been glorifying in Crossroads 2010 since late last night.

Here’s the official blurp from Eric Clapton on the mission of his Antigua center:

For many years I have visited Antigua, the beautiful Caribbean island located in the heart of the West Indies. Antigua has always been a special refuge – a safe place, a serene place where one can begin the process of healing from even the most devastating events and life situations.

As a recovering addict and alcoholic, many people over the years spoke with me about the problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse on the island. Subsequently, around 1993, I began to speak with more and more people about the possibility of founding a Centre on the island for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. There was certainly a need, and so the dream and the vision were born.

My vision was to create a Centre of the highest caliber to treat people of the Caribbean and throughout the world. The Centre would be staffed with experienced and internationally recognized professionals. The cost of treatment would be held to the lowest possible level, ensuring affordability and accessibility. And most importantly, this non-profit Centre would provide treatment scholarships for people of the Caribbean region and around the world.

The oppressive heat is, in many ways, the star of the Crossroads 2010 show.  You see the performers looking like their fingers and hands have been frostbitten red — but you aren’t seeing the cold in their hands, but rather 110 degree heat in the shade trying to escape their bodies through their fingertips.  The fact that any of them were able to hold on to their instruments in that kind of sweltering heat is admirable.

This is the official trailer for the movie.  Bill Murray is the host.  His humor quickly ages:

Here’s the list of Crossroads 2010 performers:

Albert Lee, BB King, Bert Jansch, Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Earl Klugh, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Hubert Sumlin, James Burton, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang, Keb’ Mo’, Pino Daniele, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi, Sonny Landreth, Stefan Grossman, Steve Winwood, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, and ZZ Top.

Without question, my favorite performer of the day is 78-year-old Blues legend Hubert Sumlin — who takes the stage sitting down and wearing an oxygen aid in his nose — and his playing puts everyone else to shame because he is so preternaturally so very good.

The movie starts off with the ripping roar of Eric Clapton in his best Bermuda shorts and sandals and his good friend Sonny Landreth banging out — Promise Land — and the moment is set for some incredibly fantastic music in the hereafter:

Crossroads 2010 is a tremendous purchase value.  For your $20.00USD you get four hours and thirty-nine minutes of music and backstage commentary.   Make sure you have 3.26 GB available to store the movie.

I’m on my third viewing of Crossroads 2010, and I’ve seen all of the other annual Crossroads events and, despite the heat, the 2010 Chicago version is the best one yet.

The greatest thing about the movie is the direction.  The director knows guitar fanatics are the mainline purchasers, and we are treated to multiple close-ups of both hands on guitars, in position, so we can imitate and learn from our musical masters.  This is a movie for musicians, by musicians and it’s all about the guitar.  What a great relief and joy!

Eric Clapton said right after the conclusion of the 2010 Crossroads Festival that he just might have to come back next year and do a Crossroads 2011 because he had so much fun in 2010. We can only hold thumbs and continue to hope we get Antigua Crossroads Festivals for the next 50 years.  The rest of the world deserves the musical memory.

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