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California Guitar Trio

Live in Chicago October 26th, 2001

Review by Steve Alspach

The California Guitar Trio made another stop at Martyr's in Chicago on October 26. For almost an hour and a half Paul Richards, Bert Lams, and Hideyo Moriya played a collection of music as varied as the band's origins (Utah, Belgium, and Japan), yet there was a cohesion throughout the evening's set. For example, the band opened with a number that bridged a Japanese traditional song with some surf music riffs and an excerpt from "21st Century Schizoid Man" and the end result was a seamless whole. Other highlights were the band pulling out such favorites as the surf classic "Miserlou", Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" which included numerous variations on that theme, a slightly-abbreviated encore of Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise" and the crowd-pleasing sing-along "Bohemian Rhapsody." (The sing-along is a tradition that started at Martyr's, oddly enough.) The Trio also played the Christmas favorite "The Carol of the Bells" that they donated for a Coca-Cola commercial (and were rejected - well, Coke's loss is our gain). The band also showed its songwriting skills with originals such as Richards' "Eve" (a thoughtful piece dedicated to his mother) and a Lams' piece written for a mountain-climbing documentary were also well received. The band also seemed to have an endless bag of tricks up its sleeve. Richards' use of sound effects was sparse but well placed (such as the e-Bow on two songs and using a slide on another). The teamwork of the CGT was flawless, all three members working as a whole rather than one person trying to take center stage. Most importantly, the wide range of musical styles - everything from progressive to classical to "Turkey in the Straw" - showed that the trio was willing to let their playing take a back seat to the music itself, a very selfless approach that is needed more in music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 4 at
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