CROSSROADS NYC • Creative Director & Show Designer

Crossroads NYC 2013  New York's Madison Square Garden started just before the official starting time of 7:30, and Eric couldn't wait to get the night going. Seated with an acoustic guitar, dressed in shades of gray and wearing glasses, Clapton performed a short set with his current touring band, starting with an earthy stroll through Charles Brown's "Drifting Blues." He also set the tone for the next ten hours, spread across the 12th and 13th, by giving generous spotlight and solo time to his initial guests: singer-guitarist and ex-Clapton sideman Andy Fairweather-Low and country picker Vince Gill.

It was a characteristic gesture for Clapton, one of rock's most self-effacing guitar heroes, and Crossroads itself, which featured sets and guest shots by more than two dozen other guitarists including Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Keb' Mo, Sonny Landreth, Albert Lee, Robert Cray, Steve Cropper,Robbie Robertson and rising star Gary Clark Jr. Clapton, 68, is the founder and supervising spirit of the festival, which benefits his Caribbean addiction-treatment facillity of the same name and was held indoors for its fourth edition, after single-day outdoor extravaganzas in Dallas in 2004 and Chicago in 2007 and 2010.

Crossroads NYC show concept was designed and created by long time show designer Dave Maxwell.   The show closed on the 13th, this time on electric guitar and with a surprise guest, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. The latter looked fit and soloed with short, tart phrases in the Big Bill Broonzy-Little Walter chestnut "Key to the Highway" and the 1958 Chuck Berry B-side "Sweet Little Rock and Roller." Richards also took a moment to honor Clapton, with good rude humor, for doing "such a beautiful job" with this shindig. "So let's give him the clap!" Richards said with a hoarse laugh, putting his hands together.