Vince Gill Cherishes Brotherhood of Eric Clapton Crossroads Fest
Vince Gill is still feeling on top of the world after joining over 30 of the world's greatest guitarists Saturday (June 26) at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival at Toyota Park just outside Chicago. Vince joined an eclectic group of players that featured everyone from B.B. King to ZZ Top, including Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and a surprise appearance from the Rolling Stones' Ron Wood.
The Boot caught up with Vince to find out what it's like to be a part of a league of musicians with such unparalleled talent, and how it felt to be asked back to the invitation-only event for the third time (the first two Crossroads Festivals were held in Dallas in 2004 and Chicago in 2007).
"It's such an amazing day," Vince tells The Boot in wonderment. "I mean, if you look at a T-shirt or a poster and you read the line-up of everyone who is there, it's just crazy. Humbling. It's so wonderful to be asked. Among musicians like that, we all respect each other so much, it's a brotherhood and camaraderie. And when someone like Eric asks you to come because he says he's inviting people that he likes to hear, it makes me feel validated as a guitar player."
Vince played a scorching set in which the guitar work was the only thing hotter than the afternoon sun. He was joined on stage by bluesman Keb' Mo', soul-country picker Albert Lee (pictured above with Vince) and pioneering master James Burton as they burned through a set that included 'One More Last Chance,' 'Mystery Train' and 'Whenever You Come Around.' Sheryl Crow came out for a rousing version of Clapton's own 'Lay Down Sally,' which ended the set in a funky groove. Getting to play with his heroes Lee and Burton made the time on stage all the better for Vince.
"I have to say that Albert and James are probably two of the people who have influenced me most when it comes to how I approach playing the guitar, he says. "The lilt, the bounce, the dance of the way James plays is unbelievable, and Albert is incredible."
The Crossroads Guitar Festival is a day of music to benefit the Crossroads Centre at Antigua, a drug and alcohol treatment center founded by Clapton in 1998. A man who gives much time and energy to charitable efforts himself, Vince is only too happy to help out his friend for the cause.
"The thing about Eric is, as great and amazing as he is as a guitar player, he's even a better guy," he asserts. "He is one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. He will bend over backward to accommodate you, to help you, whatever. He has a great heart."
Although Clapton had originally planned this year's Crossroads Festival to be the last, he hinted Saturday night that he might do another one. If that happens, is Vince ready to go when the phone rings? "I can't think of anyone who would say 'no' to that," he laughs. "I'm like,'Just say the date, and we'll show up!'"