by Rick Grant
Two-time GRAMMY winner Laurence Juber, best known as the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney & Wings, is headlining the Great Guitar Gathering on Friday, Feb. 26, beginning at 7:30 pm at the Florida Theater. Douglas Anderson School of the Arts’ guitar department’s biggest annual fundraiser. The students perform on the same stage each year with internationally-renowned musicians, who also do workshops with the kids earlier in the day. Also performing will be classical guitarist Lily Anshar.
Since Wings disbanded in 1981, Juber has been busy as a studio session player and solo instrumental artist playing his original compositions. He has also worked scoring films and playing guitar on TV show soundtrack sessions.
Over the years, Juber developed a large, loyal fan base as a finger-style master. He was voted the number one finger style guitarist by “Guitar Magazine,” and won two Grammys. His dozen solo CDs sold well and enhanced Juber’s reputation for being a musician’s musician.
Juber’s most popular albums included “LJ Plays the Beatles,” “Guitarist,” and “One Wing.” His latest album is titled “Wooden Horses,” which is a collection of Juber’s newest compositions.
As a session player, Juber’s guitar playing has been featured on numerous TV shows, including “Home Improvement,” “Seventh Heaven,” and the new ABC Family channel hit, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
As a composer and arranger, Juber’s film scores can be heard on the soundtracks of various movies such as Dirty Dancing, Pocahontas, and Good Will Hunting. His compositional skills have led to his scoring his first video game called “Diablo 3.”
Today, Juber is busier than ever using all his musical talents. He has collaborated with his wife Hope writing musicals. Their musical Gilligan’s Island recently toured. And they continue to work on new works.
After I checked out Juber’s music on Rhapsody, I was excited to talk to him. His finger picking style is complex and unique. His sound is rhapsodic, and the overtone-rich sound from his signature Martin sent shivers up my spine it’s so beautiful.
We chatted about various subjects but I pinned him down on his finger picking style. I asked him if he was influenced by the late great Chet Atkins?
“My background is more folk, blues, and rock. There are similarities with Chet’s style, but I was not a disciple of his. In Chet’s style, his thumb is doing a regular boom-chik. In my style, I play independent bass lines. (That thumb has a mind of its own. I swear!)
“In other words, what I’m playing is like having an extra bassist there. When I write my compositions, I write the bass line that I play in solo concert. But then I add more rhythm to that. In my style, there are elements of classical style playing.”
“Yes, I started out as a Beatle fan, then as a teenager, I wanted to be a studio session player. I didn’t intend to be a performing musician until Paul (McCartney) tapped me to play in Wings.”
“Then I discovered I enjoyed playing live. After touring the world and playing at the top of my profession, I discovered I enjoyed playing solo, which incorporated all my styles and discipline through the one guitar. But I’ve put in the proverbial ‘10,000′ hours and I continue to work hard and practice every day. You know from your experience with playing guitar, there is something new to be learned about playing guitar every day.” (Amen, Brother!)
“But the rewards are great. I get tremendous satisfaction from playing live solo guitar. It’s challenging, but for that time on stage, I lock onto the audience’s consciousness and they are tuned into my frequency. So we share an experience that is hard if not impossible to duplicate,” Juber said.
Lily Afshar has performed at the Wigmore Hall in London, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Banff School of Fine Arts, the Menton Music Festival in the South of France, the American Academy in Rome, and Salle Cortot in Paris. Her four recordings have attracted international critical acclaim and she has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
Fifty high school students make up the Douglas Anderson guitar orchestra. The Great Guitar Gathering was created in 1994 as a networking vehicle for the local guitar community and to raise funds for Douglas Anderson’s guitar department. Previous performers include international recording artists Tommy Emmanuel, Pierre Bensusan, Ben Verdery, Andrew York, Dusan Bogadanovic, Roland Dyens, Michael Chapdelaine, Doyle Dykes, Gene Bertoncini, Murial Anderson, Alex DeGrassi, William Kanengiser and Pete Huttlinger.
LAURENCE JUBER interview
by Rick Grant