‘California Guitar Trio’ at All Saints Episcopal Church by Mike Spain

The sanctuary at All Saints Episcopal Church in Frederick, Maryland was once again turned into a concert hall for the amazing California Guitar Trio. It is the 11th time in 21 years that the ensemble has played at the church. The sound is terrific in the church aided by the high ceilings and the insulated walls that kept out the sound of a frightful thunder storm. Not only did fans get a chance to see the trio in an intimate setting – but all the proceeds from the evening went to support the Advocates for Homeless Families in Frederick, Maryland.

California Guitar Trio: Hideyo Moriya, Paul Richards, Hideyo Moriya and Bert Lams.

The California Guitar Trio is made up of three guitarists Bert Lams, Paul Richards, and Hideyo Moriya. The set up is minimal. The three use acoustic electric guitars, their various effects pedals and a simple sound system. The guitars provide all the music there are no other musicians and no distracting light show is needed. The California Guitar Trio doesn’t need a lot to put on a successful show.

The set list is an interesting mix of an Argentinean folk influenced tune, classic rock, jazz, theme songs, classical music and original compositions. Every piece was a highlight and every piece was performed in the distinctive manor of the group. Their latest album was a classical one called Masterworks and it was well represented. Imagine the works of Rossini and Bach performed with just three guitars.

If the night had a theme it may have been a Western theme. The band did play “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” theme song. Then they ended with the classic cowboy song “Ghost Riders.” As a surprise they worked in a bit of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” within “Ghost Riders.” The encore was “The William Tell Overture” by Rossini which was the theme song for The Lone Ranger. After that they finished with “Happy Trails.”

I loved their version of the Santo and Johnny classic “Sleep Walk” – a song The Ventures, Les Paul, Jeff Beck, Larry Carlton and many other great guitarists have covered. It was a delight to see it performed in a new way. It also highlighted Paul Richards slide playing. Another fun cover was Johnny Smith’s “Run, Don’t Walk,” which was made famous by Chet Atkins and The Ventures. My favorite original piece they performed was “Train to Lamy,” and I enjoyed the unique sounds they were able to achieve on the guitar. Everyone played their role on every piece. Every note, every chord, every bass line fit like pieces to a puzzle. It was 90 minutes of amazing guitar playing supporting a worthy cause in Frederick.

California Guitar Trio: Hideyo Moriya, Paul Richards, and Bert Lams. Photo by Bill Ellison.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

The California Guitar Trio played one night at All Saints Episcopal Church – 106 W. Church Street in Frederick, Maryland. For event information check out their calendar.


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