Gerry Beaudoin had enjoyed a successful career as a jazz and swing guitarist, but even he was surprised at his level of notoriety when a man approached him at a guitar show in 1994.

“He walked up to me and said, ‘Hi. I’m Jay Geils. I have some of your records.’ That really blew me away,” Beaudoin recalled during a telephone interview earlier this week from his Massachusetts home. “I grew up with his band. We all had his records.”

That started a deep friendship between the two guitar players who share a similar taste in music. While Geils is best known for his tenure with the J. Geils Band, one of the top rock and pop acts during the 1970s and ’80s, his first love was actually blues and the jazz sounds of bands like Benny Goodman.

Beaudoin’s longtime collaborations with blues guitarist Duke Robillard and his new friendship with Geils eventually evolved into a stunning trio of guitar masters that in 1997 became known as the New Guitar Summit.

The trio, which now includes Chris Flory in place of Robillard, will take the stage at Lewiston Middle School for a special evening of improvisation guitar playing as part of the L/A Arts Mainstage Series.

Robillard, who Beaudoin called a “world traveler,” left the group when his many projects prevented him from devoting much time to the New Guitar Summit. The man who replaced Jimmy Vaughn in the Fabulous Thunderbirds and was a popular member of Roomful of Blues is currently touring in Europe after a recent tour of New Zealand.

Flory is no slouch in the music business. His extensive and star-studded resume includes work with many of the old jazz masters. He spent several years playing with Benny Goodman’s sextet until the leader’s death.

“Chris is probably one of the greatest jazz guitar players that I’ve ever heard,” said Beaudoin.

“He’s been a hero of mine ever since I saw him in Providence with Scott Hamilton’s band when I was a kid.”

Flory, coincidentally, has recently released an album with Robillard.

Since his style is so similar to Robillard’s, Flory’s addition has not significantly changed the group’s dynamics. The one main difference is Beaudoin now does all the vocals since neither Geils nor Flory sings.

Beaudoin and Robillard had shared a stage many times since they first got together in 1986. Geils joined them one night in 1997 and all three immediately felt the magic. The best thing, said Beaudoin, is the absence of any ego issues.

“The three of us get along so well together,” said Beaudoin. “I’ve never been in a band who just have so much fun playing together. We support each other. It’s been a real good run.”

The trio will release its second album later this year and will also release a DVD from a PBS performance.

Geils, meanwhile, has comfortably put his past life with the J. Geils Band to rest after a successful reunion tour in 1999. Now in his mid 50s, Geils has returned to his first love of playing blues and jazz music.

“He’s extremely proud of all his gold records and the songs he put down with the J. Geils Band,” said Beaudoin. “But this is the music Jay has wanted to do since he was a teenager.”


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