J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton: The Road To Escondido (2006)

The Road to Escondido

Track list:

01. Danger
02. Heads in Georgia
03. Missing Person
04. When this War is Over
05. Sporting Life Blues
06. Dead End Road
07. It’s Easy
08. Hard to Thrill
09. Anyway the Wind Blows
10. Three Little Girls
11. Don’t Cry Sister
12. Last Will and Testament
13. Who am I Telling You?
14. Ride the River


Vocals and Guitars: J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton;
Drums: Jim Karstein, James Cruce, Steve Jordan, Abraham Laboriel Junior;
Bass: Gary Gilmore, Willie Weeks, Nathan East, Pino Palladino;
Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer Piano & Rhodes: Billy Preston;
Acoustic Piano, Wurlitzer Piano & Rhodes: Walt Richmond;
Keyboards: J.J. Cale;
Guitars: Doyle Bramhall II, Derek Trucks, John Mayer, Albert Lee;
Accoustic Guitar & Background Vocals: Christine Lakeland;
Harmonica: Taj Mahal
Fiddle: Dennis Caplinger
Horns: Bruce Fowler, Marty Grebb, Steve Madaio, Jerry Peterson
Percussion: David Teegarden, James Cruce, Jim Karstein

Released: 2006
Label: Reprise/WEA Int

Producer: J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton
Co-Producer: Simon Climie

Recorded by: Alan Douglas
Assistant Engineering: Philippe Rose, Brian Vibberts, Jimmy Hoyson

Pro Tools Engineering: Simon Climie
Pro Tools Assistant: Joel Evenden

Mixed by: J.J. Cale, Mick Guzauski, Alan Douglas
Mix Assistant Tom Bender

Matered by: Bob Ludwig (at Gateway Mastering)

Guitar Technician: Lee Dickson

Album Cover concept: Eric Clapton
Art Direction & Design: Catherine Roylance

Location photography: David McClister
Additional Studio Photography: Christine Lakeland, Jim Karstein, Nigel carroll, Nathan East

In Memory of Billy Preston & Brian Roylance


After years of admiring each other’s musical masterworks, guitar great J.J. Cale and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer/Grammy-winner Eric Clapton have teamed up to create an original album together called “The Road to Escondido”.

The resulting hybrid sound defies labels, and instead finds influence across the spectrum of blues, rock, country, and folk.

The songs are warm and rich with deep-flowing rhythms while using an economy of words to express much.


J.J. Cale penned two of Eric Clapton’s career-defining solo hits, “Cocaine” and “After Midnight.”

And since Clapton has often fashioned his persona in a WWJD manner (What Would J.J. Do?), this collaboration is long overdue.

But despite the rather slick production and long list of guest backing musicians (including four bassists, four drummers, five other guitarists, and three percussionists), “The Road to Escondido” is still dominated more by Cale than Clapton.

The relatively reticent Okie wrote 11 of the 14 tracks and it’s his low-key soufflé of blues, jazz, and country that shapes and directs the disc’s tone, with Clapton along for the ride.

The opening “Danger” sets the dusky mood as the duo rides a typical Cale swamp groove that gives way to a tightly wound Slowhand solo.

They trade lead vocals on a lovely version of the after-hours jazz blues classic “Sporting Life Blues,” and the ubiquitous John Mayer makes an impressive appearance on the subtle blues of “Hard to Thrill.”

Clapton hasn’t sounded this relaxed or involved in his own material for years.

The traditionally laid-back, if not quite snoozy, Cale responds with a comparatively energized performance, likely due to the high-profile company.

When the two harmonize on the mid-tempo foot tapper “Anyway the Wind Blows,” the result is so natural and spontaneous it’s a shame these two didn’t join forces earlier.

On paper, it appears that Cale has the most to gain from partnering with an established superstar, but the fact is this collaboration yields Eric Clapton’s most engaging and contagious roots-rock release in a long time.


The Road to Escondido is an album by J. J. Cale and Eric Clapton. It was released on 7 November 2006. Contained on this album are the final recordings of Billy Preston, to whom the album is dedicated.

In 2004, Eric Clapton held the Crossroads Guitar Festival, a three day festival in Dallas, Texas. Among the performers was J.J. Cale, giving Clapton the opportunity to ask Cale to produce an album for him. The two started working together and eventually decided to record an album. A number of high-profile musicians also agreed to work on the album, including Billy Preston, Derek Trucks, Taj Mahal, Pino Palladino, John Mayer, Steve Jordan and Doyle Bramhall II. In a coup, whether intended or not, the entire John Mayer Trio participated on this album in one capacity or another.

Escondido is a city near Cale’s hometown of Valley Center, California, in San Diego County. Eric Clapton owned a mansion in Escondido in the ’80s and early ’90s. Cale and Clapton thought it would be a good name for the album because of their dual acquaintanceship with the city.

The album won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2008.