John Mayer trades solos with H.E.R., covers Grateful Dead with his blues trio, and reunites with the Fender Monterey Stratocaster (again) during jam-packed Crossroads 2023 concert

John Mayer performing onstage at the 2023 Crossroads Guitar Festival
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Crossroads Guitar Festival)

Over the weekend, some of the finest electric guitar players on the planet converged in Los Angeles to take part in Eric Clapton’s 2023 Crossroads Festival, which hosted quite possibly the greatest lineup of guitar talent ever assembled.

Now, footage from the festival has emerged online, with multiple gig-goers capturing the six-string activities of John Mayer, who had an especially busy Crossroads itinerary as he juggled a headline spot with a smattering of guest star cameos.

His biggest showing of the festival, though, was the humble four-song slot he navigated with his blues trio, which comprises drummer Steve Jordan and bass guitar player Pino Palladino.

The first few songs – Vultures, Gravity and a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Wait Until Tomorrow – were familiar ground for the three-piece, who reunited on Saturday for only the second time in six years.

Notably, the first Mayer, Jordan and Palladino reunion came only a few months ago, when Mayer brought the band back together for the seventh annual Love Rocks Benefit Concert.

Not only was that particular performance a Big Deal owing to the fact the trio – who first teamed up in 2005 for the live album, Try! – were sharing the stage again after such a long time, it also saw Mayer leaf through his guitar collection and pull out his Custom Shop Fender Monterey Stratocaster.

It was a similar story for the Crossroads festival, with the Sob Rock star once again temporarily hanging up his PRS Silver Sky signature guitar in favor of his tried-and-trusted Strat, which was utilized for Wait Until Tomorrow.

But the Fender was retired after just one song, with Mayer recalling his Silver Sky to the starting lineup as he closed his set out with a cover of Grateful Dead’s They Love Each Other – a song Mayer had plenty of experience with, having played it numerous times during Dead & Company's recent farewell tour.

The guitar tones employed throughout the trio set were, as we’ve come to expect from Mayer, second to none. Recruiting a mostly clean sound with some sizzle when pushed with the pick, Mayer put on a melody masterclass, flip-flopping between positions one, four and five as he navigated dreamy major scale motifs, funky licks and – when that gain was engaged – some show-stopping pentatonic runs.

Mayer’s blues reunion was just part of his agenda for the weekend. Elsewhere, he cropped up during H.E.R.’s set to trade solos with the Fender signature artist, and appeared alongside a bass-wielding Sheryl Crow to support her for a rendition of My Favorite Mistake.

Mayer, Crow and H.E.R. shared the lineup with a huge array of guitar stars and A-list musicians, including Buddy Guy, Marcus King, Gary Clark Jr., ZZ Top, Samantha Fish, Eric Gales, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and many others.

Joe Bonamassa and Jon McLaughlin were responsible for another highlight of the festival, with the two blues royals linking up for a cover of Jeff Beck’s Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.