Laurence Juber says being a guitarist in Paul McCartney's post-Beatles band, Wings, in the late 1970s was "a very intense period" in his musical education.
"I like to think of having done my master's degree at McCartney University," he says. And since he's also worked with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, too, he says he graduated with "a kind of a minor in Beatleology."
In the years following his stint with Wings, Juber has established himself as a masterful guitarist in his own right, playing "fingerstyle" guitar on a steel-stringed instrument. The result of this "fancy fingerwork," as he calls it, is a one-man-band kind of effect that sounds like multiple instruments are coming from his one guitar.
"Let's say for example a Beatles song like 'Strawberry Fields Forever' or 'I Saw Her Standing There.' [I'll] be able to play all of the parts at the same time, so it sounds like there's two or three guitar players," Juber says. "I'm so used to it that I take it for granted, but it always seems to thrill the audiences."
Juber will be thrilling audiences tonight in Londonderry when the Grammy-winning guitarist performs a solo concert at the Tupelo Music Hall. He says his repertoire consists not only of his arrangements of Beatles, Wings and other classic rock songs, but also of original compositions and old standards from the 1930s.
"They will see a lot of fancy fingerwork, but what I do is more entertainment driven than it is simply satisfying to guitar players alone," Juber says of his live shows.
"Everything that I play has a kind of dimension to it that is engaging to an audience above and beyond what they see or what they hear in the guitar playing, and beyond even the foot-tapping side of it," he says. "There's an interactivity with the audience that allows me as a performer to reinvent what I do for each performance; it's not just doing something by rote, but with a freshness about it."
Juber adds that there's an "emotional dimension" to his playing, too, which has only gotten more intense in the past year. Juber is turning 60 this year, which he says "perhaps is cause for a certain amount of self analysis, reflection, a reassessment of goals."
Juber also recently suffered the loss of his father-in-law, Sherwood Schwartz. Schwartz, a TV producer who famously created "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch," became a second father to Juber, who lost his own dad decades ago.
"Things change when you lose a loved one like that," Juber says. Rather than causing him to shut down, though, Juber says he's felt inspired to pick up the torch and be even more creative in the wake of the loss. "It can be a source of inspiration, and that spirit can kind of help infuse what you do as an artist."
Juber calls Schwartz one of the two people who were "significant mentors" in his life. The other is Paul McCartney.
"As a creative artist I've been able to utilize on an ongoing basis stuff that I learned from Paul, not only in terms or writing and in terms of record making, but also performance and marketing," Juber says. Moreover, he learned things on a personal level, too. Juber works creatively with his wife, Hope, who produces his records.
"Paul's relationship with Linda was I think very important to me because it gave me an example of a married couple working together and being creative together and raising kids," Juber says. "When Hope and I got married and started raising a family, I really had that relationship as an example."
Although Juber has recorded two albums of Beatles songs and — at McCartney's request — an acoustic album of Wing's songs, Juber is known for his skilled guitar playing and his original compositions. In fact, he has fans of his guitar playing "who don't have much cognizance of me having been in Wings."
The Tupelo audience will get a taste, not only for Juber's standard repertoire but also a sneak peek of several albums that are the pipeline for the coming year, including a live album, a contemplative, "relaxation album," and yet-to-be-recorded jazz/blues album. It's an eclectic mix that speaks to Juber's intense love of music and creating.
"I'm moving into the New Year with a whole bunch of new arrangements, and I think a very much invigorated commitment to expanding my audience," he says.
If you go
What: Laurence Juber.
Where: Tupelo Music Hall, 2 Young Road, Londonderry, N.H.
When: Thursday, January 12 at 8 p.m.
Cost: $20; $3 to access a live webcast.
Learn more: laurencejuber.com/concerts or tupelohalllondonderry.com
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