Boot camp has a way of binding the bonds of friendship quickly. For Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya — collectively the California Guitar Trio — boot camp came in the form of one of Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft Courses in 1987.
The three shared tight quarters in an English country house during the intense training.
“We were practicing and playing music together every day pretty much all day long,” Richards says. “Being in that close environment, we got to know each other pretty well. There was something that clicked [between us] musically, and we got along well as friends.”
After the course, all three moved into a house in Los Angeles and started outlining the CGT sound, which melds rock, blues, jazz and classical music into a progressive package accessible to a general audience.
The group’s members come from disparate backgrounds and musical traditions. Lams is classically trained and a graduate of Belgium’s Royal Conservatory. As a youth in Tokyo, Moriya grew up on traditional Japanese music while harboring a proclivity for Ventures-style surf rock. Richards, from Salt Lake City, brings Western elements to the mix.
“Each of us has brought the things we were interested in to what we’re doing in the group,” Richards says. “A lot of players get to be very specific in one genre. For us it wasn’t like that. It was more about seeing what we can do with the acoustic guitar in many styles.”
That includes interpreting classical pieces like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
“That’s always been something we enjoy doing,” Richards says. “Classical music brings a special challenge with playing together as a group. We’re not really classical players, so we approach it untraditionally and present it to people in a way that’s more accessible to people who may not be familiar with it.”