Eric Clapton Gives Toyota Center Some Slowhand March 16

Eric Clapton, the gentleman's rock star (or something like that), will interrupt Toyota Center's springtime pop programming -- Maroon 5, Pink, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood -- for an evening of British Invasion blues and psychedelic classic rock when the man behind "Layla" and other assorted love songs performs with his band Saturday, March 16.

Hey, if The Who won't come here, Rocks Off will definitely take Clapton. Tommy the movie was on VH1 Classic over the weekend, and Slowhand does a great "Eyesight to the Blind." Nice robe, too.

According to a press release by the Crossroads Guitar Festival, tickets go on sale Friday, November 30, on local venue Web sites. (Toyota doesn't have a page up yet, but will soon, we're sure.) Clapton was last in town in June 2009, also at Toyota Center with his old buddy Steve Winwood, who happens to play Bayou Music Center himself a week from Wednesday (November 28).

For the past decade or so, the onetime Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & the Dominos guitarist has been the driving force behind the Crossroads Guitar Festival, an annual event brings together many of the world's most skilled six-stringers to showcase their talents for the delight of thousands of slack-jawed fans, and benefits Clapton's famous Crossroads drug/alcohol rehabilitation facility in Antigua.

Clapton's spring 2013 tour appears positioned as a warmup leg for this year's festival, which takes place April 12 and 13 at New York's Madison Square Garden with Buddy Guy, Citizen Cope, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughan, Keith Urban, Los Lobos, Robbie Robertson, Robert Randolph and many others. More information is available at crossroadsguitarfestival.com or ericclapton.com.

Clapton is also scheduled to play Austin's Frank Erwin Center the next night, March 17, also the final night of SXSW 2013. It makes total sense for SXSW to make Clapton the elder-statesman rocker of this year's festival, similar to Bruce Springsteen last year, but no such plans have been announced... yet. As many people as Clapton must know in Austin, you have to figure he shows up somewhere.

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Clapton's road band for this tour is not quite as impressive as the Crossroads lineup, but it's nothing to sneeze at either. Former Arc Angel Doyle Bramhall II, a veteran of several Clapton tours, is back on guitar, with session legend Steve Jordan (The Blues Brothers, Stevie Nicks) on drums and a couple of interesting newcomers in ex-Squeeze player Paul Carrack and steel guitar genius Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson, Wilco, etc.).

And Jakob Dylan fans take note: Opening will be the Wallflowers, whose scheduled show this month at Nutty Jerrys was recently canceled. Downtown is still a lot closer than Winnie.

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