CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO “Three Amigos”
By Dark Starr
California Guitar Trio is an intriguing act. The band sprung from the masterworks classes that Robert Fripp assembled that gave birth to his League of Crafty Guitarists. The three guys in CGT all came from there. Their guitar techniques and talents are amazing. Their music encompasses classical music and prog rock, but goes further than that, too. One of their trademarks is something called circulation, where each guitarist will take one note of a musical progression and then it passes around to the next guitarist for a note and so on until it comes back again. I got the chance to pose ask Paul Richards of CGT some questions recently, and here is that interview.
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: It’s been a while since we’ve touched base. What are some of the highlights of the last few years in the world of Paul Richards?
PAUL RICHARDS: Wow! A lot has happened in six years! Most recently, the California Guitar Trio has just released a new album called "Komorebi." This is our 17th official release. We had a very successful launch of the album on Pledge Music this past November. Komorebi is the Japanese name for the beams of sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees in the forest. This album showcases the pure acoustic side of the CGT and features special guests Tony Levin, Petra Haden, Davide Rossi and Nora Germain. Komorebi is the #3 album on Echoes Radio top 25 albums for the end of 2016.
Another highlight for me was moving back to Los Angeles three years ago. I had lived here in LA off and on for several years when CGT was based here in 1991, and I’m very happy to be back. My wife and I live in the West Hollywood area, not far from many of the music venues where CGT got our start back in 1991. I’m enjoying being back in LA, and have many musician friends and great musical connections here. I’m currently a member of the Los Angeles Guitar Circle which is a group of musicians that I know from attending the Robert Fripp Guitar Craft courses.
WC: What's ahead for you?
PR: CGT has a lot of touring scheduled for 2017. Beginning on the West Coast in February, we have concerts scheduled throughout the USA until June. European dates are being planned for July, Canada for August and more USA dates next fall. Our agency is doing a good job of keeping us busy!
I handle of lot of the CGT’s business management. Between tours I keep very busy with the management side of things. And I have a small home studio where I enjoy looping, experimenting and working on new music. I enjoy taking my 14 year old dog Mikko for walks in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
WC: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
PR: I have really been enjoying working with Petra Haden and hope to do more with her in the near future. For those not familiar with Petra, she is the daughter of famous jazz bassist Charlie Haden. I met Petra last August when I was invited to do a special music project in Seattle organized by my long time friend Steve Ball. She is an amazing singer and excellent violinist. She sings on the last two tracks on our Komorebi CD. She also recently released youtube videos of her singing all the parts on a-cappella versions of King Crimson’s "Red" and "Frame by Frame." Check those out if you haven’t heard them yet.
WC: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
PR: Hmm, not sure about that one. I can’t think of any musical enemies! When I was younger I was a bit of a music snob, only liking certain kinds of music and perhaps even thinking that some music may have come from “musical enemies." Ha! Now, I try to find some value in all music that I hear, even if I don’t like it or think that it’s bad.
WC: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
PR: Last Tuesday night I went to a very small jazz club in mid city Los Angeles and heard the legendary jazz vocalist Barbara Morrison. I bought the CD from the guitarist in her band. I also recently bought the new Brian Eno album, very beautiful. I’ve also been listening to Boston progressive band Bent Knee - great band!
WC: Have you read any good books lately?
PR: Nora Germain - Go for it. A personal story from jazz violinist Nora about her adventures in the music business.
WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
PR: The Barbara Morrison show was great. Last week my wife and I were with some friends in New Orleans. Every restaurant and bar has live music. Lots of great players there in New Orleans! Next week I’m going to see Tony Levin with Stick Men at the Baked Potato here in LA.
WC: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
PR: Pandora Radio “Nick Drake” station. Good for Sunday mornings.
WC: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
PR: Jimi Hendrix, Robert Fripp and Johann Sebastien Bach. I’ve had some wonderful dinners with Robert in the past. I can imagine that it would be quite a discussion with these characters.
WC: What would be on the menu?
PR: I would take them to one of the restaurants in my neighborhood here in West Hollywood. Perhaps “Estrella” just down the bottom of my street, run by top Chef Dakota Wiess and decor inspired by Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon home.
WC: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Check out our new album "Komorebi" and tour schedule here: