Two-time Grammy winning guitar virtuoso in Mammoth for one-night only this Tuesday (Photo: Sarah Bardowell)
Rarely do you get to see one of the best in the world up close in an intimate setting doing what they do best.
Even rarer is when you can have that experience for just $15.
Such is the case this week, however, as Laurence Juber comes to Mammoth. The Grammy-winning fingerstyle guitarist, perhaps best known in the annals of pop culture for his three-year stint as lead guitarist for Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles band, Wings, will be performing at Rafters this Tuesday evening.
Ironically, it’s Juber’s reimagination of McCartney’s work in his album “LJ Plays The Beatles” that has garnered him the most acclaim in recent years. It was voted one of the top 10 acoustic guitar albums of all time by Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
The album was produced by Juber’s wife, Hope, to whom he has been married for almost 30 years.
Hope is the daughter of the late Sherwood Schwartz, who passed away just a few weeks ago. Schwartz was the creator of classic television shows such as “The Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan’s Island.” As Juber observed in a phone interview this week, “Coming from Wings and marrying into a family of comedy writers … it’s a weird nexus of pop culture.”
But it’s also a nexus that fits him. In his own words, “a rock ‘n roll consciousness with a sense of humor.”
It was the intersection of both these elements that helped earn Juber his second Grammy in 2005 for best rock instrumental for his performance of “The Pink Panther Theme.”
A cursory internet search will find you a treasure trove of Juber material on YouTube. One of the best comments was listed for a performance of “Little Wing.”
“I was trying to figure out where the other guitarist was for the first 20 seconds.”
When I read the comment back to him, Juber chuckled. “As a solo guitarist, you’re playing the melody, bass and rhythm all at the same time.” He will also alter the tunings on his guitar to “extend the range” of the instrument.
His performance of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” has had more than 250,000 views.
You’ll also find videos of young guitarists all over the world covering Juber’s original work, notably Breaking Point, featured on his 2003 “Guitarist” album.
C.F. Martin and Company, which has been in business since 1833 and is currently run by the great-great-great grandson of its founder, makes two custom Laurence Juber guitars, a testament to his reputation (the other signature guitars made by the longtime guitar manufacturer bear names such as Kaukonen and Earle). Juber said, “I had ordered a custom guitar that came out so well … that we made it a signature model. It’s a subtle tweak on a classic design.”
The guitars are priced in the $5,000 range.
I asked Juber, 58, how much he worries about his most valuable asset – his hands.
“I’m discouraged from hammering a nail,” he said, “and I won’t put my hands in water for long periods of time.”
“It’s a great excuse to avoid the dishes,” I offered.
“I have gloves. I’ll do the dishes,” he replied. Clearly not a prima donna.
For the guitarists out there, Juber does recommend a product called Guitar Hands, a liquid-based moisturizer that mitigates the wear-and-tear picking guitar strings can have on one’s fingers. “I used to use Super Glue [to repair the cuts],” he said.
So if you want to see a man with 47 years of guitar-playing experience (he also, impressively, is a master of the renaissance lute), come on out to Rafters on Tuesday. For concert details, see the advertisement on page 8.