by Christine Wiese

Auerbach once said, “Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.”. If you take this premise as your starting point and apply it to the concert goers last Friday at The Clausen Center in Holstein, you could say the audience that walked out of the theatre that night was way more than squeaky clean. The music offered up by the Montreal Guitare Trio and the California Guitar Trio suffused and washed over their souls – leaving them sparkling like window panes after a good Spring cleaning – degrimed, degermed, and deodorized.

This was a concert of pure sound, of pure music, of pure joy. Folks left the auditorium higher than kites. “This was magic!” said one.

How does a person begin to critique the talents of these six men? To do even a creditable job, you’d have to have studied guitar technique, music composition, and music theory. A layman can only say, “I loved it; I could have listened to it all night long.”. It’s like the old saw about the untutored guy walking through an art gallery who stops at a Reuben’s and says, “I don’t know much about Art but I know what I like.”. We most certainly and most enthusiastically liked what these guys gave us.

The concert began with the trio from Canada. They are masters at combining classical motifs with spaghetti western themes, rock, original compositions, and musical genres from other cultures. Somehow or other they transmute their acoustical instruments into percussive beats and, in the case of “Garam Masala”, an Indian sitar. They never stopped surprising us. In “Glass Beads”, a person could swear they heard a necklace break and beads skittering over the floor.

Then came the California group with “Walk, Don’t Run” which was great when the Ventures played it a hundred years ago but which they transformed into a classic work of acoustical art. These guys are so closely attuned to each other that a barely perceptible nod was enough to send the sound spiraling off in a whole other direction. What really blew the attendees away was the Bach piece played a la “Circulation Technique”. Each member got one note to play at a time and they melded into one another so fluidly, a person could hardly tell which one was playing which note. It was simply indescribable.

After intermission the two groups became one and the hall really caught fire. It hardly mattered what they played because the crowd loved it all. From the “Perpetuum Mobile” with a 15-8 time signature (Yes, someone in the audience guessed it correctly and was asked to go on tour with them!) through Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to their exuberant rendition of “ The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” – each one was applauded more wildly than the last. Capping the evening off was their brilliant encore of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

These two groups of three aren’t just guitar players. Separately and combined, they are artists of the highest order who play to Every Man – from professional musicians to those whose musical education stopped with the recorder in fourth grade. We’d welcome them back in a minute.