In a performance that bounced between classical and rock, the California Guitar Trio celebrated 20 years of playing together with a stellar, packed show at The State Room Thursday night.---
I didn't make it to see the whole gig (tethered as I was to my couch as the insane World Series game played out), but what I did see was exactly as advertised: virtuoso performances by three amazingly talented players, plus a major assist by opening act/guitar wiz Fareed Haque.
The group's current tour is a celebration of two decades together, and they worked from a set list careful to touch on all aspects of their lengthy career. It didn't really matter, though, whether or not one was familiar with their oeuvre, because the skills on display via Hideyo Moriya of Tokyo, Bert Lams of Belgium and Salt Lake City's own Paul Richards are enough to impress anyone within earshot.
As I walked in, the Trio was working over Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," with the audience singing all of Freddie Mercury's lines to the delight of the musicians on stage. It was a treat, but not as much as the songs from Andromeda, the Trio's most recent studio release. The title track was a particularly strong performance toward the end of the band's set.
For an encore, the Trio welcomed opener Haque to the stage, creating a magical quartet, particularly when Haque added the punch of an electric guitar to the Trio's three acoustics. Haque's jazz and classical background obviously fits naturally with the Trio, and together they were excellent on a version of Vivaldi's "Winter" from The Four Seasons, and a California Guitar Trio oldie, "Blockhead."
Naturally, I was kicking myself for being late to the show, but the good thing about having one-third of this globe-sprawling band living in Utah is, you know there will always be another chance. Here's hoping the Cali Guitar Trio bring Haque with them next time, too.