Clapton And Winwood – Very Serious Music

Clapton And Winwood – Very Serious Music

I have spent the last two days with the music of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. These are two very serious guys, two wonderful musicians. WNET, Public Television in New York City (O.K., not Radio, but it is public) aired the Great Performances February 2008 concert of Clapton and Winwood, their first full collaboration in forty years, since their work in the British blues band Blind Faith. Blind Faith apparently had only one album, eponymously named. They did a long series of concerts in Britain, various countries in Europe, and the U.S. Then, Clapton pulled out of the band, essentially ending its run. Clapton had come from the band Cream, Winwood from the band Traffic. Both players had already pulled out of these two bands.

One gets the impression from their comments that they just could not get along with anyone for too long a time, even each other. Both players and their bands had fastened on to Blues from such American players as Buddy Guy and B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King, Hubert Sumlin and primarily Robert Johnson as major influences of his guitar playing (so, Wikipedia).

In spite of the acrimony, according to Steve, Eric had become his “big brother”, and, according to Eric, he (Clapton) really wanted to keep the relationship alive. Eric very much respected Steve’s musicianship. Clapton considered Winwood the single best blues performer in England. Over the years, they did appear, infrequently, together. I guess, not spending too much time together, they got along.

So, now, forty years later, they organized a concert tour, and what WNET aired was the New York City stop on the tour. I have to say, it was a great concert. While each did a fair amount of his own compositions, they also very purposefully each sang lead on some of the other’s compositions. I recorded a DVD, and then with AVS Video Converter 6 I edited out all of the pitching. So, that was the start of quite a binge.

I got Eric Clapton’s “Guitar Crossroads 2004” and “Guitar Crossroads 2007” in .mp4. Each is a 2 DVD set. These are celebrations of the Blues. They include many of the best guitarists, young and old, essentially from the Blues tradition, but, in 2004, there was even an Indian duo, probably the result of Eric’s relationship with George Harrison, in who’s memory Eric sings one of George’s compositions in 2007 (sorry about the run-on sentence, I tried to parse it differently and could not get it to work). In the 2007 concert I recognized a player who had been in the “Concert for George” that Eric organized. I did not then know who he was. That concert was comprised of musicians who had strong relationships with George. Well, I learned that it was Albert Lee, who Clapton considers the greatest guitar player he knows (hyperbole?) and to whom Sheryl Crow deeply bowed when she came on the stage.

In what I call the “Theatrical Version” of the MSG concert, there are interviews interspersed. Eric talks about Steve’s bands The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. I had none of their music, so I got a nice big bunch of CD’s in .mp3 for each band. I already had the Cream revival concert DVD, which I ripped to .mp4. I also got the DVD in .mp4 of the Blind Faith June 7, 1969 concert in Hyde Park, London. Let me tell you, this is quite a “get”. Last, I got an .mp4 of the “Concert Version” of the MSG 2008 concert, without all of the (invaluable) interruptions.

Now, you know, this is not stuff about which I usually write. But the Blues is a very important part of the musical heritage of the United States. I was thinking about this, which is dangerous when one is essentially unschooled on a subject, and anyone who wishes can take me to task or correct me: The knowledge and wisdom of BCE Greece came to Europe via the Ancient Middle East. It seems to me that while the Blues rose up out of the African-American experience, and while it was and is prevalent in R&B, Jazz, and Rock, to the greatest extent we had sort of forgotten it was there, especially White Urban America which fastened on The Beatles, the Rolling Stones- not a bad Blues band when they wanted to be a Blues band- Crosby, Stills, Nash, ZZ Top and the like. It seems to me that it took bands like Cream, Traffic and Blind Faith, and players like Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood to bring the Blues back to its rightful presence in our consciousness, and I, for one, and grateful.

As I said at the beginning, this is very serious music.

This was a difficult post for me to write.This is not exactly my sandbox. For all errors and poor writing craftsmanship, I do apologize.