Laurence Juber will perform in Dana Point on March 13 and in Mission Viejo on March 14.
When a musician is in a band with Paul McCartney, it’s natural to assume that even the most talented of artists will have a difficult time emerging from the long shadow of the former Beatle.
But don’t tell that to Laurence Juber. A member of Paul McCartney and Wings in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, the East London, England native is widely recognized as one of today’s most talented and innovative fingerstyle guitarists.
Juber won a Best Rock Instrumental Grammy for the track “Rockestra” (featured on Wings’ 1979 album “Back to the Egg”), and picked up a second Grammy when his solo guitar arrangement of “The Pink Panther Theme” was featured on Solid Air Records’ “Henry Mancini – Pink Guitar” collection in 2004.
“The gratifying thing is that people have paid attention and the process to me has been just really doing what comes naturally,” said Juber, when I interviewed him at the NAMM music show in Anaheim on Jan. 15, 2009. He has released more than a dozen full-length discs since his debut “Solo Flight” was released in 1990.
Juber said his success in the niche world of solo acoustic guitar is a credit to more than virtuoso skills on his instrument, but to the efforts of Seal Beach-based Solid Air Records president James Jensen to help introduce and promote this type of music to a wider audience.
“Because of the synergy between what I do and what James does with Solid Air Records where his vision and my vision really are on the same track, to express myself through the solo guitar and to get the kind of response, it’s a process. I’m coming up on 20 years of doing it.”
Juber returns to Orange County to perform twice this month as part of the Lord of the Strings concert series. He will play at the Dana Point Community House on March 13 and at the Mission Viejo Civic Center on March 14.
Juber is on tour in support of his latest solo album, the aptly-titled “Pop Goes Guitar.” The 12-song collection features dazzling versions of material by the likes of the Beach Boys, the Police, the Rolling Stones, the Fab Four and Wings all arranged for solo guitar.
“Well, the trick is to squeeze it all on the guitar, because with a tune like ‘Every Breath You Take’ for example, it has an intricate Andy Summers guitar line on it and then the (vocal) melody sits on top,” Juber explained.
“Well, with standard tuning you can’t play the melody and accompaniment at the same time – it just doesn’t physically work. But I figured out a way of doing it because I use alternate tunings in my work.”
The genesis of the recording of “Pop Goes Guitar” actually was launched when Juber set out to publish a book featuring his original arrangements.
“One of the weird things about the music publishing business…the Beatles stuff is very restricted. So we’ve been trying to get a deal to put out a book of my Beatles arrangements,” explained Juber, who not only performed with McCartney but also played guitar with George Harrison on his song “Breath Away From Heaven,” and with Harrison and Ringo Starr on the sessions for “Stop And Smell The Roses” in 1981.
“As it turned out they gave permission to put out two Wings and three Beatles songs. We made a deal that I would do a transcription book (musical translations of his instrumental guitar arrangements) that would include those five songs plus another seven to make it up to a healthy book.”
Juber then began compiling a list of all of his favorite pop songs and then gave that to the respective publishers to see which ones he could get permission to include in his book, and ultimately on the companion “Pop Goes Guitar” album.
“I wanted stuff that was compatible with the Beatles things. I didn’t want to go into any old standards because I already did that with my previous album (2006’s ‘I’ve Got the World on Six Strings’), and I didn’t want to get anything too contemporary either. So what we ended up with was a group of really compatible songs, so the selection came about backwards. Normally you do the album, and then you do the transcription book. This time the book came first and the album was done as a supplement to the book.”
Juber is looking forward to his two upcoming Lord of the Strings concert dates, which will mark his first shows in Orange County since appearing at the NAMM music conference in Anaheim in January.
“I think the shows that I’m doing this year; the rock musician part of me has been a little bit sublimated in that I’ve been doing shows that are more structured. There is not a lot of improvisation,” Juber said.
“I don’t want to be self-indulgent because it’s really important to entertain the audience which is why I mix it up with original tunes, with standards, pop songs and some rock ‘n’ roll, some jazz – it’s a bit of everything.”
Where: Dana Point Community House, 24642 San Juan Ave., Dana Point
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13
Where: Mission Viejo Civic Center, 200 Civic Center, Mission Viejo
When: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 14
How much: $25
Online: www.LordOfTheStringsConcerts.com or
Call: Concert series president Tim Johnson at 949-842-2227