The California Guitar Trio and The Montreal Guitare Trio

In another life, I spent 5 years as the reviewer for concerts presented by the Seacoast Entertainment Association of Florence, Oregon. I loved every minute of this ‘job,’  but some moments stand out more than others. Enter the California Guitar Trio and The Montreal Guitare Trio (who are thoroughly French-Canadian). Below, somewhere at the bottom, is my original review written in 2013. Fast forward to May 7, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to this date, I had seen the CGT in Phoenix twice in one year, the second time being April 7, 2019, just one month before their Cleveland concert. I’m starting to feel like a groupie.

CGT – on stage, Chandler Center for the Arts (Arizona)

The Music Box Supper Club in the Cleveland Flats (east side) on the Cuyahoga River was host to these two trios on the date mentioned above.  Yes, I went out of my way to attend bringing a guitar friend with me. There was not a disappointing moment all evening long. The earthy French-Canadian/Gypsy flavors were present as well as Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by the CGT. CGT is blessed with Bert Lam’s classical education at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium. Who expects some guitar trio to walk out on stage and play Bach (intricately arranged by Bert)?? But, it just lends to Bert’s talents and the uniqueness of the CGT. 

Bert Lams  (All photos are mine unless otherwise noted)

CGT has their own ‘style’ because the minute anything by them starts, I immediately recognize that it is CGT which has amazed me. But, they definitely have their own uncommon sound, and, they are all composers of original music they perform such as Hideyo Moriya’s “Fortune Island,” a commemorative piece to the Fukushima disaster. A masterful composition by Hideyo who is also an amazing guitar percussionist!

Hideyo Moriya

CGT is often billed as a ‘jazz’ trio which I find odd. First of all, I don’t much like jazz and while some of what they perform actually is jazz, I like pretty much anything they play. However, they are much more eclectic in their styles of music and ‘jazz musicians’ is a misleading description for this trio. “The Train To Lamy” is a collaborative composition written by Bert, Hideyo and Paul Richards. It is actually a suite and starts out quite jazzy, sounds very country/western in the middle and then becomes one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. 

The California Guitar Trio–photo by permission of CGT

Paul Richards naturally has the look of a California-Surfer (think Beach Boys).  And, he has the charm to go with it. They all smile because they all love and enjoy what they are doing. But, Paul’s smile is perpetual and at the same time genuine. And he never misses a beat as he is usually in motion with the music. Not quite dancing, but close. Paul plays several different types of guitars and causes engaging sounds to stream out of them that I’ve never heard from a guitar before.

Paul Richards (in motion, as usual)

The Montreal Guitare Trio is based in, well, Montreal, Canada. They grew up speaking French and Marc Morin describes their speech as, “A sexy, French-Canadian accent.” They even visit with each other during performances in French. The CGT and MGT have been collaborating and touring together for about ten years. And they do it very well. They have very different music styles but blend with each other flawlessly. 

BTW, I am now the proud owner of 5 CGT and/or MGT CDs and will no doubt own more as it goes. Great traveling companions! You can visit their websites for the inventory of CDs and other neat stuff. https://cgtrio.com  https://www.mg3.ca  They each also have Facebook pages plus one together. You can query the names to find those pages. But, don’t leave until you’ve finished reading this!

It would be difficult to describe Glenn Levesque, of MGT, without mentioning his voice. “Weird Fishes” (Radiohead) has grown on me but came home when I heard Glenn sing it in concert. His clear tones resonate into your soul. For me, it was a shut- your-eyes and let that awesome voice fill everything around you moment. And it did. There’s an accent over the first e in Glenn’s last name but this program hasn’t a clue how to do that.

Glenn Levesque

Sebastien Dufour (accent over the first e) is the man in the middle. I had a friend with me who plays/performs guitar and he wanted to know HOW does he, Sebastien, get his fingers to travel that quickly over the strings?! I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised to see sparks flying out of Sebastien’s guitar. Or even his charango which is a kind of Bolivian guitar. A charango is an ethnic instrument which means it is very similar to its original design that can be centuries or even thousands of years old. Original instruments aren’t always easy to play but Sebastien makes it look easy. A charango looks much like a ukulele and sounds a bit like a mandolin. 

Sebastien Dufour

Marc Morin is the one the other two claim is ‘wearing’ hair. They all play more than one instrument but Marc is the only one who plays accordion. Usually with his eyes closed. That’s how good he is on anything he plays. Marc was worried that we were sitting in the ‘loud’ seats but we didn’t notice. It was all just more than good. And fun. Lots and lots of fun!

Marc Morin

The MGT is also often toted as a jazz trio but that is a misnomer in their case too. They play a variety of music styles and do some unique mixing—opera with klezmer, Indian with Arabic. And often there is gypsy woven into many of their selections, and/or Flamenco and/or French-Canadian folk music. And they, too, compose. Marc said one of his favorite things is to play for folk dancing in Montreal. Being a folk dance teacher I just said:  “La Bastringue.” They immediately knew what I meant. Sebastian assures me that it is now on their set list. I can’t wait to hear it next time (and there WILL be a next time as I’ve become a guitar junky and big fan of these 2 trios). I may get up and dance if I can find a partner!

The Montreal Guitare Trio – photo by permission of MGT

Watch for them to come your way as they play everywhere, even some small towns like Florence, Oregon. Don’t miss any opportunity to see/hear them! You will be glad you did. BTW, they are great fun so you will be immersed in fun you didn’t know would be happening in a concert filled with top-notch musicians.They were kind enough to pose for this photo. We’re not sure where Glenn was. As Marc said, we were trying to herd cats. I need a better camera!

I leave you with one of the pieces they have much fun with! You will like it! Listen for the French-Canadian folk tune….video by permission of CGT & MGT

Oh, yes, the review from 2013:

                                        SIX GUITARS ROCK FEC

In a mix of “Once Upon A Time In The West” written by Ennio Morricone blending with traditional Eastern European and Russian tunes, the distinct sounds of nylon guitar strings flowed across Florence Events Center performance hall on Saturday, November 23.

Following introductions by SEAcoast Entertainment Association President Ernie Doud and SEA Producer Sandy Kuhlman, the eclectic music stylings of the Montreal Guitar Trio opened this exciting evening of entertainment.

Rooted in traditional French-Canadian music, Glenn Levesque, Marc Morin and Sebastien Dufour have gathered into their musical characteristics many of the earthy, ancient traditional sounds and stylings of the world.

Composed by Dufour, “Garam Masala” displays the musical spicy blend that its name suggests. This piece requires special tuning to acquire the sounds of the traditional sitars of India. Melding traditional Indian and Middle Eastern music perfectly, the many talents of this trio stand out. The ancient vocals put forth by Levesque transport one to the deserts of the Bedouin.

Suddenly we are transported to Classical Era drawing rooms by the evening’s second group, the California Guitar Trio, with their steel string rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy”. A definite change in styling, there is now a blend of classical, blues and more by these world-class musicians.

Hailing from Japan, Belgium, Utah and having met in England, Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya and Paul Richards eventually settled in the U.S. 22 years ago to become the California Guitar Trio.

One repeated element of the evening stands out during a nostalgic and very California surfer moment, “Walk Don’t Run” written by Johnny Smith and made famous by The Ventures. Richards, Lams and Moriya actually appear to be engaged in happy conversation with each other through their execution of the music. Conversation is again evident in Richards’ unique “Chacarera.”

Following the intermission, both trios returned to the stage to perform original and arranged compositions together. “Breizh Tango” written by Levesque combines the traditional folk music of Brittany in France and tango that leans toward gypsy styling to heights unimagined until now. Audience participation is encouraged to the gypsy rhythm. 

One of the more beautiful moments of the evening was during George Harrison’s “My Guitar Gently Weeps”. In an artfully extended arrangement, Levesque sang the former Beatle’s composition with all the emotion it deserves to the accompaniment of six guitars. 

The audience was on its feet more than once during the evening clapping and vocalizing their appreciation. At the end, the attendees refused to sit or leave or stop clapping and cheering until the two trios returned for an encore.

It is impossible not to recognize the opening strains of Freddy Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. While playing their elegant arrangement, Morin turned the microphone toward the audience encouraging them to sing along. Surprisingly they did reflecting a youthful presence in this almost sold out hall.

One audience member summed up for all attendees in her statement: “This was the best concert they’ve ever had!”

Yellowstone-2

We’re actually just East of Cody, Wyoming, passing through Bureau of Land Management property at Red Canyon today. Our family is visiting Cody and the Buffalo Bill Museum, Irma Hotel and other historic places here. However, on the way through Red Canyon, they spotted a partial herd of Wild Mustangs. There are estimated to be about 50 to 60 horses in the herd but about 20 in this small group. Enjoy these photos of one of the oldest wild animals on the Continent.

Someone apparently did something they shouldn’t have….

And one more from outside of the park yesterday…..Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep…

Back in Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone Lake…

Our family fondly calls this Bison Sauna…

The historic Yellowstone Hotel was built in 1891 and redesigned and expanded in 1903 by architect Robert Reamer. It was extensively renovated and restored in 2014. A very nice place to stay!

There is a lounge and somewhere there is a fireplace you can sit and read near…

At the West Thumb, you will come across some of the many unique pools Yellowstone is famous for….Black Pool

Bluebelle Pool…

Abyss Pool…

Just West of Cody is this unique house that never seems to get quite finished…

Heading back toward Jackson at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center they spotted this moose…

We hope you enjoyed our Mother’s Day Weekend at Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area.  Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, gramas, aunts and single dads.

 

Yellowstone!

Are you watching the new “Yellowstone” series? It’s pretty awesome and about one of the most beautiful places on earth. We are Wyoming people as well as Oregon and other places. One of our family members is currently traveling in Yellowstone National Park and we are going to share their photos with you as it goes. There will be more to come after these below so keep watching.   

Our family lives outside of Jackson, Wyoming and the first leg of the trip into the park goes past the Grand Tetons. The nearby lakes create wonderful reflections like this on sunny days.

And just before entering the park, this big, black bear was spotted.

Herds of Bison roam the park and traffic is often stopped as they cross or even travel on the roads. You just don’t argue with 100 Buffalo in your path. This one was right next to the car.

And then he wandered away….

A little known attraction is Gibbon Falls…

There are two Yellowstone Falls—the Upper and the Lower Falls. This is the Lower Falls…

Still lots of snow in the Wyoming high country!

Watch for more of our family’s Mother’s Day weekend trip in Wyoming….

The Road To Hell

The route from Phoenix, AZ to Wyoming is fraught with interesting highways. And by-ways if you want to indulge. It is long and sometimes rugged but the first major scenic site will be the San Francisco Peaks at Flag.

One needs to eventually arrive at I -15 in Utah and go north from there. So the first leg is to Flagstaff, AZ, and then East a bit before turning North and traveling across the road to hell through the Navajo Reservation. Every few miles there are natives selling beautiful handmade jewelry and delicious fry bread (a real by-way if you indulge). 127 miles to Page, AZ.

It’s easy to see why the US government gladly ‘gifted’ this land to the Indians. It is dry and brown with nothing on it but sand, red dirt, rocks and sage brush. It would be difficult to find an edible plant or much in the way of critters outside of rattlesnakes and scorpions. Not much cover either so the summer heat is intense. But, the Navajo lived here before the white man came and have learned how to survive and more—they gladly take your funds in exchange for the wares they make and weave. Modern life is a blessing!

There are a myriad of interesting formations and lines of rock probably carved by ancient glaciers. These provide some relief in the landscape and could even be called beautiful at times.

Eventually, the road leads to Page which is a bit of a mecca in this high desert. Here lives Lake Powell which provides water recreation, as well as sustenance for Arizona. As you head toward Utah, you cross the Glen Canyon Dam which created Lake Powell, the largest man-made reservoir in the US.

Moving on into Utah are more ridges and formations probably made by moving ancient glaciers. One of the most fascinating places is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes located between Mt. Carmel and Kanab, Utah. They truly are pink and some parts are the darker pink color of salmon.

The drive toward I-15 takes you through or past parts of Zion, Bryce and Canyon Lands National Parks. It is an absolutely beautiful drive but plan on an extra hour of driving time. Windy, curvy roads and several small burgs slow the pace. It is very much worth the extra time.

Winter Storm Watching On The Oregon Coast

Storm watching is a winter occupation on the Oregon Coast. From November through March, the surf can reach heights up to 120 ft. That’s a huge wall of water!

Cape Perpetua

Caution as to where to watch these storms is advised. One does not want to be on the beach, up close and personal as there is real danger of being swept out to sea.

One of our favorite places to watch the waves is Shore Acres State Park. Much of this area is perched high up on 80 foot cliffs over-looking the ocean where the water can be viewed from a safe distance. Shore Acres is said to be the best storm watching place on this Pacific Northwest Coast. There is an actual storm watching hut there on the cliff.

There are three areas nearby Shore Acres that are safe places to watch also:The bluff overlooking Bastendorff Beach, Cape Arago State Park and Sunset Bay State Park. These are all close to Shore Acres. Any of them would do but, as stated, we would choose Shore Acres first. Make a day of it and also visit the beautiful botanical gardens during the day. During December, stay for the night time holiday light displays in the gardens.

On your way to storm watching at Shore Acres, stop in and say hello to us at Umpqua River Haven (www.umpquahaven.com). We always have the coffee ready and would enjoy sharing a cup with you.

Whale Watching Week On The Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is famous for its Grey Whales. When visitors from all over the world are here and learn about the whales, well, everyone wants to see one. There are expeditions you can take to see the whales and Depot Bay is famous for their boats out into the ocean to view the whales that hang not far offshore. But a good, fun time can be had from shore where they have the Whale Watching Spoken Here Programs.

Trained volunteers are posted in various places along the Oregon Coast to help guide visitors in watching the Grey Whale migrations. Right now is prime whale watching season as 20,000 Grey Whales are traveling south to the warmth of the waters at Baja, Mexico. In March they’ll travel back again, but for now our favorite place to watch is on the platform looking out over the dunes at Winchester Bay with the Umpqua River Lighthouse behind us.

View from the platform to the south.

whalewatchingfromplatform-2

View from the platform to the north

whalewatchingfromplatform

The extremely endangered Grey Whale is a migrating baleen whale. They can be as big a 40 tons and live from 55 to 70 years. The gray patches and white mottling on dark skin give them the name of Gray Whale. These are the whales that migrate from their winter breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and back again. They have been seen popping up around the globe in small numbers possibly repopulating long lost breeding grounds not used for centuries. Worldwide protection of the species is what is bringing them back. One lady Grey Whale has made a 22,000-kilometer migration across the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe this demonstrates how endangered species are making major changes in their lifestyles. They are amazing creatures.

whalewatching-greywhalebreaching-2

This is the live Whale Watching webcam. You can watch the ocean to spot the migrating Grey Whales this week!

Whale Watching at the Umpqua River Lighthouse State Park is just a short 20-minute drive from Umpqua River Haven (www.umpquahaven.com) Stop in and say hello on your way or stay with us for a bit while you visit the coast to see the whales! And visit our favorite lighthouse.

whalewatchingumpquariverlighthouse

The Oregon Coast Best Light Display

Following is a re-post of our 2015 blog about this magical place.  If you are anywhere near the coast this holiday season, don’t miss this one! 

It’s time for our annual visit to this wonderful garden on the Oregon Coast. It is a holiday fan’s paradise for lights, native plants, cider, cookies, Christmas music and more. 

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens just outside of Charleston, Oregon on the coast is lit up for 30 days over the holidays. Starting at Thanksgiving time, this beautiful coastal place is filled with lights, light displays and decorated Christmas trees. The Friends of Shore Acres do most of the lighting work and man the cottage and grounds during December every year. Various groups such as the local Corvette Club decorate the trees.

We will start at the entrance to the gardens as we are greeted by the lighted tall ship.

TallShip

 Just past the tall ship we find this display from under the sea.

UnderTheSea

Moving along the garden lights open up for a full view that is spectacular to take in.

FrontView-1

This post is about the lights. Following are some of our favorite light displays.

As you walk in past the Under The Sea display these sea lions are diving into the water and will make a splash of light.

SeaLions

In the opposite direction are 2 whales. One leaps and the other one, a grey whale, spouts.

LeapingWhale-1

SpoutingWhale-1

Continuing around the walk is a somewhat new lighthouse display.

Lighthouse

 The plants here are filled with colorful lights creating their own display.

LightsAlongThePath

Continuing on you will come to the Puffins.

Puffins

And next is the pond. I am just giving you an idea of the displays. You really need to visit here during December to take in the full beauty of all the various displays and decorated trees. The frog actually leaps from one side of the pond to the other creating a splash when it enters the water.

LeapingPondFrogWReflection!

As your walk around the pond you will come to the place that makes the ‘Ribbit’ sounds. It’s a bit of a surprise when you hear it!

RibbitOnThePath

 The pond supplies endless, lighted views. The cranes and salmon are no exception.

SalmonWithCranesInPond

Shore Acres sits up on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean a short distance past Charleston, Oregon. The core of this property originally was the home of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson who built a large mansion with formal gardens overlooking the ocean. The State of Oregon purchased the property in 1942 and added land as it became available. The gardens were let go until 1970 when they were restored even grander than before with flowers and plants from all over the world. One of our favorite parts of the gardens is hidden a bit. There is an area with rows of all kinds of roses!

The mansion no longer exists but there is an observation area where it once was where you can read all the history. However, the caretaker’s cottage survives and is now the Garden House. It, too, is filled with all things Christmassy and is on the tour.

Cottage-3-YES!

Inside you can sign the guest book and then head on upstairs to visit the front bedroom, Santa’s bath and the back bedroom. You can sign up for the raffle to spend New Year’s Eve in the front bedroom with catered breakfast.

FrontBedroom

 There is a Christmas tree in the bedroom also.
CottageBedroomChristmasTree

And the view out the window is spectacular!

CottageBedroomView

And don’t forget Santa’s bath.

SantaInTub

As you pass from the front of the house to the back you are greeted by many volunteers giving out cookies, hot apple cider, punch and coffee which you can enjoy there or take out to the pavilion.

CritterLineUp

You can sit and sip and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. There are a variety of groups that play/perform/sing on any given night and there’s often a sing-a-long. One year this bell choir performed beautifully.

BellChoir

If you are on the Oregon Coast during the month of December do not miss the opportunity to visit Shore Acres Holiday Light Display! There is a $5.00 charge for parking worth every penny. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out. Shore Acres State Park, 80939 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, OR.  And stop in to say “hello” to us at http://www.umpquariverhaven.com on your way to the coast! 

FloralLIghtsPlusHummerWFlower

Happy Holidays From Arizona

If you are traveling on Arizona’s I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, you will pass this unique tree. It is growing on the median between the north and south double lanes on I-17. It is up “on top” as you have climbed up out of Phoenix into the Arizona high desert country. Every year, apparently, Santa’s Elves decorate this tree while no one can see as it is unknown who/how it becomes adorned with holiday decorations. Keep watch if you are traveling this route, but, you really can’t miss it!

Thank A Native American

Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect on, well, what we have to be thankful for. I am thankful for family, including my Native American family members, and friends. I am thankful to the readers of this blog site. Your comments are meaningful and helpful and I thank you for being here with us.

I am thankful for this wonderful, funky country we live in. It must be the best country in the world because immigrants can’t get here fast enough. We are privileged to live here and blessed to be.

The beginning of this country belongs to its Native Americans. They were here way before anyone else, of course. But, when the earliest immigrant-settlers arrived, it was the Native Americans who were instrumental in helping them begin to forge the new nation.

The Pilgrims, including some of my family, arrived in 1620 after surviving an arduous 66 days crossing the Atlantic in a leaky wooden boat. That first winter they lived on the Mayflower while building homes and storehouses at Plymouth. Half of the 102 souls that had arrived perished during that first, brutal winter. The remaining ones moved into the village they had built.

It was then, in March of 1621, that an Abenaki Native came into the village surprising everyone by speaking in English. Days later he returned with Squanto, a Pawtuxet Native American. Squanto had been taken years earlier by an English vessel and sold into slavery. He managed to escape to London and find his way home on an exploratory expedition. His English was very good. Seeing how the Pilgrims were suffering from lack of food and illness, Squanto taught them how to plant maze, harvest maple sap and catch fish. They also learned how to identify poisonous plants growing nearby so they wouldn’t accidentally eat them.

Squanto was instrumental in introducing the Pilgrims to the nearby local Natives, the Wampanoag. This friendship endured for over 50 years in peace and harmony. In the fall, when the crops planted by the Pilgrims under Squanto’s expert instruction were successfully harvested, the colony’s Governor, William Bradford, declared a time of feasting and invited their Native American allies. The Wampanoag Chief, Massasoit, was among the invited guests.

It was a 3-day celebration of gratitude by the colony for now having food and good nourishment for the coming winter. They were grateful to their Native neighbors and wished to include them to show their gratitude. They were more than included as the meals were probably prepared with Native spices and cooking methods. While the colonists went “fowling” for meat, the Wampanoag brought 5 deer with them as their contribution. The food was a little different than it is now, but this was the earliest Thanksgiving in our country.

As you eat your turkey and pumpkin’ pie and enjoy the warmth of family and friends, include the Native Americans in your thoughts, prayers, and meditations. They deserve it and right now as they defend everyone’s water, they need your support in whatever way you can give it. We wouldn’t be here without them!