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The astounding talent of Laurence Juber
by Timothy Tilghman
So maybe you are unaware that you know the name Laurence Juber. Chances are you have heard this guitarist play on music that you did not know to associate with his career. Almost three decades ago, Juber scored immediate success as a member of the last incarnation of Wings in 1979.
The guitarist would forge ahead and establish his own style of playing and receive critical acclaim for his musical endeavors. Juber's diverse repertoire is an engaging mix of original instrumentals, familiar tunes from recognized composers, and popular selections from both The Beatles and Wings.
Juber has intuitively expanded the scope of sounds he plays on an acoustic guitar. His ability to create music beyond ten fingers on six strings stretches one's imagination. The use of his right hand to knock on the body adds percussion. His dexterity in slapping the strings and nimble fingers produce hard to find chords and notes, empowering his stage performance with a unique and unequaled originality.
The playfulness of "The Pink Panther Theme" came to life in his rendition. The unexpected "If I Only Had A Brian" was an uncommon treat. It was Juber's incredible arrangement of "Strawberry Fields Forever" that lifted his performance to another level altogether. Recreating the difficult intricacies of that complicated recording live on stage using only six strings showcased his extraordinary command of the acoustic guitar.
The musical motion of "Bullet Train Boogie", a new original on his recent release PCH, conjured images of a highspeed Japanese train. His masterful take on "Layla" is another track found on PCH. Juber upgraded the melody of "Another Day", from 2005's One Wing, with a mildly swifter tempo. Juber stated that when he presented his Wings collection to Sir Paul, McCartney asked what the title would be. When told Juber wanted to call it One Wing, Macca remarked, "Oh brilliant".
"In Your Arms", an original piece from Juber's first album Solo Flight, was dedicated to his wife Hope. The fancy and frantic "Off The Leash" combined blues with rockabilly. The quality of musical expression is projected in the passion of his playing. Juber ran off stage briefly and returned for an encore. He said that within one week, he appeared at the Cavern Club in Liverpool as well as the Royal Albert Hall in London. He quipped that it took The Beatles three years to accomplish that honor.
Reprising the Jimi Hendrix classic "Little Wing", Juber's powerful arrangement was both compact and choice. His subtle leads and mellow coda were a nice touch. Juber took time to convey thank-yous and mention he can be found online. From his 2006 album exploring the music of Harold Arlen, the jaunty "It's Only A Paper Moon" closed the evening. His fingerstyle interplay hearkened back to a vaudeville-era sound.
During intermission and again following his stellar performance, Juber made himself available to meet and greet the fans that came out to see him at the BlackRock Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 14, 2007. He had a selection of his solo recordings presented for sale and posed for photographs upon request. The BRC is a wonderfully intimate setting to enjoy a concert.
As a member of Wings, Juber performed on a tour of the United Kingdom. It included, consequently, Paul McCartney's first appearance in Liverpool since he was with The Beatles. Additionally, Macca scheduled four charity holiday season concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon to benefit the refugees of Kampuchea. A 1981 live album, that featured Juber on lead guitar, has yet to be re-issued on CD.
With the highly successful British Tour behind them, Wings had plans to embark on a debut tour of Japan in January 1980. Unfortunately, Paul McCartney was arrested by Custom agents as the band attempted to enter the country. Charged with possession of marijuana, Macca was jailed for several days before being expelled from Japan. The Japanese Tour was canceled and Wings subsequently folded in the wake of this public foul up.
Mischievously, a McCartney solo instrumental recording, "Frozen Jap", was heard as intentionally mocking the socio-political uproar generated over his incarceration after cannabis was discovered in the tour entourage luggage. As a direct result of this misfortune, Macca lost the reigns of a great touring band, following the aftermath of that ordeal.
Later that year, Wings secured a Number One hit on the American Singles Chart with "Coming Up" in 1980. The live track was actually a B-side to the solo album version Macca had put out. His McCartney II album sold like hotcakes on the basis of that single. Fans thought Wings had put out a new live album.
Germantown setlist: Catch * Maybe I'm Amazed * Pass The Buck * While My Guitar Gently Weeps * Mosaic * Pink Panther Theme * Stolen Glances * If I Only Had A Brain * Somewhere Over The Rainbow * Cobalt Blue * Strawberry Fields Forever * White Pass Trail * intermission * Night Hawk * Every Breath You Take * Bullet Train Boogie * Layla * PCH * Liquid Amber * All Of Me * Another Day * In Your Arms * Off The Leash > Lone Ranger Theme > James Bond Theme * Encore: Little Wing * It's Only A Paper Moon
RockonTour Issue #74
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