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California Guitar Trio visits Mill

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | MARCH 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: California Guitar Trio

"Bohemian Rhapsody"

The California Guitar Trio knows the true meaning of variety. In one show, the group plays anything from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen, to a classical piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. Each member of the trio plays acoustic, instrumental guitar music that varies from classical to rock to world.

The three play their music in a nontraditional way to appeal to as many diverse audiences as possible, said band member Paul Richards.

“We get a lot of interest from people who want to see something unusual and good,” he said. “Things that don’t normally go together we like to put together.”

The group will play its ranging style of music at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $15 in advance, $18 the day of the show.

California Guitar Trio began 20 years ago in Los Angeles. Richards, Bert Lams, and Hideyo Moriya met while studying with English guitarist Robert Fripp.

Richards’ longtime guitar instructor, Don Ayers, suggested that he attend a guitar craft workshop after taking the course himself.

“The funny thing is that I refused to tell [Richards] anything about the course but insisted he go and experience it for himself,” Ayers said.

Richards had no idea that he would meet people who became longtime friends and future band members. The three shared the same interest in music, and that led them to form a group.

Prior to joining the band, Moriya had composed arrangements of traditional Japanese Koto music and was also a big fan of the surf-guitar music that was popular at the time. Lams studied classical guitar in Belgium and listened to a lot of music from groups such as Big Purple and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

For Richards, growing up in the U.S. exposed him to great rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Rush. He taught himself to play along to the guitar parts of their albums and then later went on to study jazz.

The band members expect audiences to get something special from their performances because of the variety of music their backgrounds offer.

“I think that people who come to our show can expect to be entertained to the highest degree,” Lams said.

Richards believes that the band’s music appeals to all ages because it plays in an original and interesting way that all fans could get something out of it. However, he said, it does depend on where and for whom they are playing.

“If we are playing in a college town, we get not only a lot of college students but music students as well, because we are known for doing things that aren’t necessarily mainstream,” Richards said.

Aside from the trio’s variety of music, the members themselves are very diverse.

Richards is the only member from the United States. Fellow member Lams is from Belgium and Moriya is from Japan. The musical influence each musician has studied and been exposed to is completely different, another aspect that brings a lot of diversity to their music.

“They really play as a group and do this in a nontraditional sense, in that the parts they play can be completely interlocking and not make sense with the other parts being present,” Ayers said. “They also have a sense of fun and explore a wide variety of styles. It’s fun hearing them switch from Bach or Beethoven to a surf or rocking original.”


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