California Guitar Trio returns March 4

By Bruce Hammond 
Guest Contributor 

On March 4, The California Guitar Trio will return to Rockford with a performance at historic Veterans Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St. This is part of the current leg of CGT’s 25th anniversary tour supporting the release of their 15th studio album, Komorebi.

The group is comprised of Bert Lams (from Affligen, Belgium), Hideyo Moriya (Tokyo, Japan) and Paul Richards (Salt Lake City, Utah) who originally met at a guitar immersion event hosted by legendary, King Crimson founder, Robert Fripp.

Their slightly cryptic band name obviously refers to where CGT was formed in 1991 rather than the points of origin of any of the members (although I’m pretty sure I could come up with a spot in California that’s the same number of air-miles southeast of Tokyo as the combined miles southwest of Salt Lake City and Brussels).

Since being introduced to this market in the ‘90s by Charlotte’s Web, the band has delighted thousands of area fans at venues like Memorial Hall, Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, Tebala Shrine Center, Sinnissippi Band Shell and On The Waterfront. Their repertoire is unique blend of classical, classic rock, jazz, 60’s surfer tunes, movie themes, world music woven in with dozens of distinctive originals. It truly offers something for just about everyone.

What it doesn’t have is the kind of show-off, I-can-play-16-bars-faster-than-anyone attitude that characterizes many rock guitar performances. For while the members of CGT are all exceptional acoustic guitarists, the true virtuosity exhibited in their performances derives mainly from the seamless ensemble work that infuses every piece they play. Nowhere is this artistic unity more apparent than when the band uses a technique called “circulation”. Essentially, this involves performing something like a Bach prelude, with each guitarist playing every third note and doing it so fluidly that it sounds like a single performer.

If you’ve seen the band before, you know that these shows are special. They have always drawn enthusiastic crowds in Rockford and genuinely seem to enjoy performing here. Those of you who haven’t attended one of their shows owe it to yourself to check them out. Find more about this unique musical troupe at

The March 4 engagement also features local favorite Kelly Steward. For the handful of people who don’t know, Kelly is an area singer/songwriter with a gorgeous voice who has been performing her mellow, alt-country originals and fun covers around the Mid-West for a number of years. She will be joined by guitarist Greg Whitson and will probably have copies available of the recently-released EP, Weep & Willow, her first fully collaborative effort with new hubby, Miles Nielsen. More info at

Doors open at 7 p.m.; Kelly Steward goes on at 7:30.

General admission tickets are available at JR Kortman’s and Prairie Street Brewhouse, or they may be purchased online through Eventbrite by going to

Refreshments will be provided by Prairie Street Brewhouse.

For more event information email or call 815-378-8732.

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