Many of the world’s greatest guitar players gathered in Los Angeles for Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival. It was the first Crossroads event in four years and all profits from the festival benefit Crossroads Center in Antigua, which is a treatment center for recovery founded by Eric Clapton.
The two day festival ran Saturday and Sunday September 23rd and 24th in Los Angeles, California at Crypto.com Arena.
Action opened on the village stage at 9 AM each day. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram was a huge favorite here with his set featuring guest appearances from Artur Menezes and Grace Bowers. Nathan East also performed a set with his son, Noah, which included a performance of Eric Clapton’s “Change The World.”
On Sunday at the village stage, the highlight was Samantha Fish and Eric Gales’ intense set. The only thing hotter than the sun beaming down was the action on stage. During a guitar solo with Gales, Samantha’s guitar string broke, and she didn’t miss a beat continuing to turn up the intensity in perhaps the village stage’s top moment of the festival.
Main Stage – Night 1
The main stage featured one of the best lineups you’ll ever see in one place. Night 1 opened with Sonny Landreth showing off his slide prowess. Eric Clapton then came out to join Sonny on stage.
This year’s festival featured plenty of new blood such as the Brothers Landreth. Their song “Made Up Mind” was recorded by Bonnie Raitt and won the Grammy for “Best Americana Performance.” Eric Gales was absolutely electric on stage in his Crossroads debut and worked the crowd with masterful showmanship. Samantha Fish and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram also brought the heat earning a standing ovation with Gales.
Joe Bonamassa returned to the Crossroads stage for just the second time and his first since 2010. Bonamassa’s 7-piece band played a 5 song set featuring appearances from Eric Gales and John McLaughlin earned a standing ovation.
One of the best performances of night 1 came from Judith Hill who stunned the crowd with her combination of top flight vocals and guitar playing. She received some of the loudest cheers of the night.
Gary Clark Jr. showcased a new song in a quick acoustic set which followed with a triple main event of Jakob Dylan/Wallflowers with Roger McGuinn and Stephen Stills, who were followed by John Mayer Trio and ZZ Top.
Main Stage – Night 2
Night 2 featured another absolutely stacked lineup on the main stage. Sacred steel savant Robert Randolph kicked off the show displaying his mastery of the instrument and was later joined by Eric Gales and Joe Bonamassa.
Keb’ Mo’s set featured Taj Mahal, who the crowd loved to see together. That was followed by a stunning acoustic set from Eric Gales.
Marcus King’s set was one of the major highlights of the night. King was absolutely on fire on stage and the crowd ate up the performance. He shared a duet with his wife, Briley. Later, Sheryl Crow and Audley Freed joined to put a stamp on the set. Crow’s set followed as she played her hits and the crowd loved every moment.
Another standout moment of the evening was H.E.R. bringing her father, Kenny Wilson, on stage to join her. John Mayer also joined the fun and an emotional Wilson thanked the crowd and shared a hug with H.E.R. before the end of the set.
Los Lobos certainly had the crowd on its side in a fun set capped off with “La Bamba,” which the crowd went crazy for.
Gary Clark Jr. played an explosive set. Clark got emotional speaking about how special Crossroads is and paid tribute to his mother with a performance of “Pearl Cadillac.”
Eric Clapton’s set earned the biggest ovation of the night and included staples like “Tears In Heaven,” “I Shot The Sherriff,” and an acoustic version of “Layla.” Clapton brought out surprise guest Stevie Wonder in a true Crossroads moment as they closed the set with “Crossroads.”
Santana headlined the night and played into the early morning before Clapton returned to the stage to put a cap on the evening.
A Special Weekend
Overall, Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2023 was a wonderful event for a very important cause. From the village stage to the main stage, fans got to experience a barrage of non-stop world class musicians at the top of their game. Billy Murray, who MC’d the event, joked about how every Crossroads is the last one. Hopefully that won’t be the case but if it was, what a way to go out.