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Catching up with Laurence Juber
Beatles News Exclusive
By Marshall Terrill
Ask Laurence Juber what he's up to and you're liable to get several answers. The former Wings guitarist and virtuoso just may be the busiest man in the music industry. In addition to playing a big part in an upcoming Linda McCartney tribute album and concert, Juber plays almost 100 dates a year, has regular session work, conducts professional workshops, performs on soundtracks for feature films and television, has three upcoming CD releases, and is about to give away his oldest daughter at her wedding in a few weeks. In this Beatles News exclusive, we catch up with Juber.
Q: What are you up to these days?
LJ: The question is what am I not up to? There's always something going on. Knock on wood, I'm as busy these days as I've ever been, including my days with Wings.
Q: Let's talk about your involvement with "Let Us In: The Women and Cancer Fund Campaign" a Nov. 7 benefit concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, on behalf of your former Wings band mate, Linda McCartney.
LJ: It's something I'm very proud to be a part of because Linda was a special friend. We used to hang out a lot. She was kind of a combination of Earth Mother, big sister and band mate. She was a woman of many talents. I have lots of great memories of Linda. The campaign aims to bring awareness to women's cancers and raise funds for the charity, which was established in the memory of Linda McCartney. Proceeds from the "Let Us In" Campaign will benefit breast cancer and children's cancers through to The Women and Cancer Fund. The Nashville concert will be hosted by actor/musician Jeff Daniels and features Ricky Skaggs, Kenny Loggins, Juliana Cole, Sarah Darling, Cheyenne Kimball,Samantha Landrum, Steel Magnolia, Jordyn Shellhart, SHeDAISY, Phil Vassar, Chuck Wicks and other special guests. Each artist will be performing their original cover version of a Sir Paul McCartney song as well as additional songs for their respective catalog. I recorded "Every Night" with Denny Seiwell, Mark Hudson and Timothy B. Schmidt for the album. The concert will also recorded and later released as a live DVD.
As an aside, I've been supporting women's cancer for a long time. My eldest daughter, Nico, is herself a cancer survivor. When she was 19, she was diagnosed with Non-Hogdkin's Lymphoma co-created a non-profit cancer group with Sunshine Esteves called Thrive/Survive. It's based in Los Angeles and provides resources and information to young cancer survivors.
Q: You also have a pair of upcoming gigs in Southern California. You're playing at two classic venues - McCabes in Santa Monica on Friday, Nov. 18 and The Fret House in Covina on Nov. 19. What do you like about those venues?
LJ: McCabes is a historic place, which opened in 1958. It's also one of the best acoustic venues in the Los Angeles area and it's a delight to play there. It's a guitar shop and venue. At night they clear out the racks of guitars and put out chairs and it holds about 150 people. It's just a great gig. The list of musicians that have played there and hung out in the store is amazing - Ry Cooder, Bonnie Rait, Jackson Browne, Hoyt Axton, Jeff Buckley, Gene Clark, John Densmore, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Roger McGuinn, Mick Taylor - all the greats. I'm working on some new arrangements and whenever I play there I always throw in something new into the repertoire.
The Fret House is an annual show I do and this will be my 20th performance there. I've playing there since 1991 right after my first album, Solo Flight, came out. It's a guitar store but they have a separate performance space and it's a very intimate acoustic venue. I've always enjoyed playing there.
Q: In between shows, you also do guitar workshops. What are those like?
LJ: They're definitely more on the technical end of the spectrum of what I do. It's usually a group lesson between eight and 20 people, showing them tips, tricks and ways to improve their playing. I also explain my process for arranging and playing the solo acoustic guitar, how to get sound, resonance and character from the instrument. I pass on my knowledge and experience on how to create a solid musical experience.
Q: Your last CD, LJ Plays the Beatles Vol. 2 (Solid Air Records, 2010) sold very well and was enthusiastically received by Beatles fans. Any new works on the horizon?
LJ: I'm actually working on three new CDs right now. I have a whole bunch of new arrangements and compositions in progress coming to various stages of fruition. Everything right now is being held up just a little bit because Nico, my daughter, is getting married later this month. Father of the Bride. Once the wedding is over I can get back to focusing on my work.
Q: Can you tell us about each one.
LJ: On one of them I'll be revisiting some of my earlier compositions. It's sort of a pretty album but it's got all sorts of moods, and it's been fun to revisit work I recorded the best part of 20 years ago. It's an interesting process. The second one has a working title called The Other Side of Midnight, which is more of a late night, noir album. I have a bunch of cover tunes I play in concert and one of them is "Cry Me a River," which I feel is destined for the album and pretty much typifies what it will be about. Just last weekend I got to play it for Arthur Hamilton, and I got his blessing. I'm going to meeting with my record company about the third project. It's a little premature to talk about but I'll keep you looped in. I'm also a co-composer on the upcoming Diablo 3 video game and it's a very different world than what I do as a solo player.
Q: Didn't you also do soundtrack work on The Muppets, which is coming out in a few weeks?
LJ: Yes and it's the first time a new Muppets movie has come out in about a dozen years. I have something of a history with Paul Williams, who wrote many of those songs. I've worked with other Muppets, too. They're amazing because you interact with them and totally forget they're puppets because they're so real.
For more information about Laurence Juber, visit www.laurencejuber.com.
Published November 10, 2011
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