Arts and Entertainment

After Wings, Laurence Juber brings solo success to Poulsbo

Former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber plays a free concert in Poulsbo Friday, April 9. - Courtesy photo
Former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber plays a free concert in Poulsbo Friday, April 9.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Laurence Juber has clocked studio time with some of the music industry’s best. He’s played guitar onstage alongside Paul McCartney and recorded nearly a dozen solo albums. He’s arranged and composed the scores of movies and video games.

But he says “there’s nothing quite as inspiring as getting up and playing in front of an enthusiastic audience.”

That’s what he’ll do at 7 p.m. today, April 9, at Poulsbo’s Christ Memorial Church. The show is free.

Juber, born in England and now living in Studio City, Calif., is known for his impressive guitar fingerstylings. He was lead guitarist for Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles band Wings in its third incarnation, from 1979 to 1981. He now balances time on the road and in the studio, where he’s worked with countless artists, from Rosemary Clooney to The Monkees to Barry Manilow. There’s a good chance he’s recorded a tune for your favorite movie or TV show, too.

Juber, 57, said he first picked up a guitar the week The Beatles’ 1963 single “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was released. Though he had other inspirations — Hendrix and Clapton, to name a few — The Beatles would prove to stick in a way no other influence would.

“It’s amazing to me after all these years that I can still listen to a Beatles record and hear things I never heard before. It’s just a constant and continual source of inspiration,” he said.

In the late 70s he would be called in to audition with Wings, based off the recommendation of Denny Laine.

“When I got called into the audition I really didn’t know any Wings tunes. I had been busy learning how to be a hot-shot guitar player,” he said. After jamming with McCartney and the band, playing some rock and roll, some reggae, Juber figures now it was not just his playing, but his personality too, that fit. “They offered it to me on the spot.”

Though he had been working hard at a career in the music studio, he decided to take a risk and leave that behind.

“I had oriented myself to becoming a successful studio musician and I would have to give that up, but this was Paul McCartney and I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to work with a Beatle,” he said.

It was during those years he says he was “driven to a different dimension,” rocketed to a new level of career expectation and skill.

“I learned a great deal about making records, I learned a great deal about the music business in general,” he said. “All of those things have been extremely important in allowing me to pursue a solo career.”

His most recent solo venture, “Wooden Horses,” is an eclectic mix — like his own tastes, Juber said — of pop consciousness, ragtime and jazz. The title song is named in part for his guitars, each of which has a slightly different sound, be it made of maple, mahogany or rosewood. He called them his “wooden work horses,” and the album a reflection of his workspace.

Juber is also setting to work on a followup to “LJ Plays the Beatles,” a 2000 cover album. With 10 years between them, he said the second volume will benefit from his continued experience and more finely developed “Beatle-ology.”

He’ll play an amalgam of originals, Beatles tunes and Wings songs in concert, and admits, with such a history to draw from, a two-hour show can feel like a warmup.

The Poulsbo event is free, in part to encourage family attendance and inspire young kids. Juber waxes fervent about the guitar, a wide-ranging instrument “that really encompasses the entirety of my career.”

“It’s a passion, an obsession, it’s my vocation, my career,” he said. “When I’m not playing guitar, I’m playing guitar. It’s what I do to relax.”

Though he’s moved on from his first big gig, and plays mainly acoustic nowadays, he also reveals he hasn’t lost his love for rock, and is still in contact with former band-mate McCartney: “I still enjoy strapping on an electric guitar and cranking up the amplifier and being rock and roll.” WU

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