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August 8, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Guitarist Laurence Juber

  |   Video
  • A conversation with Grammy Award-winning guitarist Laurence Juber, who used to play lead guitar with Paul McCartney and Wings. Juber is in town for the Musical Instrument Museum’s August 9th presentation of “Guitarmania to Beatlemania: The Evolution of the Acoustic Guitar”.
  • Laurence Juber - Grammy Award-Winning Guitarist
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: music, guitarist, art, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tomorrow the musical instrument museum in Phoenix is hosting "Guitarmania To Beatlemania: the Evolution of the Acoustic Guitar." The sold-out show features Laurence Juber, a fingerstyle guitarist who launched a successful solo career after playing for Paul McCartney and Wings. Earlier I spoke with Juber about his music. Laurence Juber. Beautiful, beautiful stuff, thank you so much for joining us on "Arizona Horizon."

Laurence Juber: You're welcome.

Ted Simons: It's good to have you here.

Laurence Juber: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: You betcha. You are at the musical instrument museum, I want to talk to you about that in a second. It's amazing to me to watch an artist, especially someone like myself who plucks around on a guitar and makes the most ridiculous noises. First of all, when did you know that this would be your life, that this is what you do better than just about anyone else around?

Laurence Juber: Well, I didn't know about the better part of it. But my 11th birthday was when I got my first guitar, having nagged my parents for months to get a guitar. The week before the Beatles were on the Royal Command Performance. When you have the Beatles playing for royalty, it kind of gives it some credibility. I wake up on my 11th birthday and there's a guitar and I pick it up. Nearly 50 years later I still haven't put it down.

Ted Simons: When you picked it up the first time, did it feel special?

Laurence Juber: It made sense to me. I had a book called Play in a Day. It had When the Saints Go Marching In. I looked to the music and said, okay, that is this. And in the space of an afternoon I learned to sight-read that. It gave me a career as a studio musician some years later. My guitar was very cheap and the black paint would come off on my fingerprints. It was just so compelling to me. Once I started making money doing it, a local bandleader adopted me when I was 13 and I would go play weddings and stuff. Sit on the bandstand with all these older musicians, and the bass player would lean over and say, if you don't know the chords, just play the bridge of I Got Rhythm. It sure beat baby-sitting and washing my neighbor's car and working at the open air market. It's something I love to do. It's my career, my job my vocation my avocation and my artistic stress.

Ted Simons: Indeed it is. Now that it has become your life, that guitar is part of you. When you wake up in the morning, when you first pick up the guitar, are there exercises? There are certain things you do? Or is it like a writer, you sit down and just start writing?

Laurence Juber: Pretty much, yeah, sit down. Just pick it up, and sometimes just whatever flows out. I'll play a chord, just my fingers will go there. It's interesting, at the airport at 6:30 in the morning, while waiting for a plane, sometimes it’s my most creative time. As a teenager I did more Segovia scales. It's more I might wake up with a tune in my head, or I might pick up the guitar and there's a quality, a certain sonority that will inspire me to go in a musical direction. In reality, even though the guitar is my voice, as a musician I use it as my self expression. It's compact and the guitar is like an orchestra. You can play a baseline or a melody line. You can play multiple parts, play chords, strap it on your back and go to the beach with it. With score paper I could sit down and write out the music for an orchestra or for big band or whatever. Because as a trained musician I have that musical sensibility. But the guitar is my voice.

Ted Simons: This guitar is an acoustic guitar, but you also played in rock bands, as well. What is the difference between the two? You turn up the amplifier. Stylistically rock-n-roll has different criteria perhaps than playing jazz or ragtime or something folky, some gentle picking pattern. But they were always parallel for me. As a teenager I started classical guitar, I started with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon and ragtime. I played in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in England. I play in rock bands, too, and I loved playing blues guitar. The technique of playing electric and acoustic guiar has really converged for me, it's just really how loud I get to play and how focused the sound is. Acoustic has a much broader sonic range, electric kinda gets you in one place.

Ted Simons: You play acoustic guitar without fingerpicks, and why that?

Laurence Juber: I like the sound. I used to play classical guitar with nails on my right hand. You look at some pictures of me with Paul McCartney. I didn't like that sound so I cut my nails off and listened to a playbook. That's the sound I'm going for. In 25 or 30 years I've developed a certain sonic characteristic that goes on with just the fingertips.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about, is it mirrored, for something that is so popular, they know where they were when they were listening to this particular song; this kind of music. Can that be more difficult? How do you make it a new experience?

Laurence Juber: The thing I specialize in as a guitar orchestrator, the music really lends itself. Say I was to take an arrangement of a classic song like Autumn Leaves, for example. There's not a specific record you associate. Whereas with a Beatles song, if I do Strawberry Fields Forever, there's a very specific sound from the record. And there's all the those little moves and things that are so iconic and so ingrained, you can't stray too far from that. Unless it’s a reinterpretation, I want to make it more guitaristic, rather than making it generic. So I pick the baseline and the little background parts, and integrate those into the arrangement.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Does it feel like it becomes a little bit of you, as well?

Laurence Juber: Oh, absolutely.

Ted Simons: You played for Paul McCartney in Wings. That was a big band, big times. [Laurence strums] You were in a band apparently on the run at times. The difference between being in a band with a legend for years, now you've been on your own out there playing solely. The difference between that.

Laurence Juber: Well, in Wings I was the lead guitar, it wasn't a one-man show. I'm part of a band, part of the act. I have my parts to play with in that. As a soloist, it’s just me. I learned a lot from watching startup. Having your repertoire, but also being able to be flexible and kind of play to the audience's expectations. I was a very shy teenager. It's one of the reasons I became a studio musician originally, because I like playing guitar, I really wasn't seeking the spotlight. Being a solo performer is therapeutic for me in that respect. So, as time’s gone on I've kind of reached this plateau of confidence, and then used that as kind of my vehicle to express myself and to communicate and, you know, just kind of it all came together at that point.

Ted Simons: How was Paul McCartney to work with?

Laurence Juber: Good guy, great teacher, great mentor. I got my master's degree from McCartney Universities. I got to work with Ringo and George, 3 out of 4 Beatles, not bad.

Ted Simons: I noticed you play a Martin guitar. When Martin came to you and said we want to do a signature guitar, what was it you wanted?

Laurence Juber: I ordered a custom shop guitar and said, I want this. I described an orchestra model, which is what this is, with an Adirondack spruce top, what they used to use up until 1940. Originally we did it in mahogany, a particular kind of sound, kind of woody, warm, but not too penetrating. It has a nice lilt to it. This is acacia koa from Hawaii. This rosewood was always the main kind of high-end wood, but is now an endangered species and causes all kinds problems, in terms of your crossing borders, and you don't want to be caught up in the legality of it. What I did was I just said, look, I want string spacing which is a little less than the vintage, more classical type. Actually I'm not having to cover too many areas. There was a width that I go ahead get all my fingers around the counterpoint that I play. I'm playing classically informationed playing, staying on the strings. So I’m trying to converge the classic Martin design, Martin has been around since 1833, the acoustic guitar, the guitar mania in Europe kind of followed C.F. Martin, the first over the ocean. I’ve taken elements from their history, koa was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th because of the worlds far in 1916 when Hawaiian musicians first came to the mainland.

Ted Simons: Isn't that something? It's your guitar, you will be at the museum, "Guitarmania To Beatlemania." I could talk to you for hours about the guitar.

Laurence Juber: It would be fun.

Ted Simons: It's a lot of fun. Can you play us out here as we close out the show?

Laurence Juber: Sure.

Ted Simons: And a pleasure to have you here, again.

Laurence Juber: Cheers.

Medical Marijuana Legal Concerns

  |   Video
  • This week the State Health Department held a lottery for applicants wanting to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona. 97 of 433 applicants were awarded dispensary registration certificates, but it’s unclear if they’ll ever get to open for business. Attorney General Tom Horne has issued an opinion that the State’s medical marijuana law is preempted by federal law. Hear from Horne and Andrew Myers who managed Arizona’s Prop 203 (medical marijuana initiative) campaign.
  • Tom Horne - Attorney General
  • Andrew Myers - Managed Arizona Prop 203
Category: Law   |   Keywords: medical, marijuana, legal, law, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The demand to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona is greater than the supply of available licenses.

Arbitrator: No. 18, application 127. No. 5, 5 applications, there will be a draw.

Ted Simons: And that was the scene yesterday at the state health department as they conducted a lottery for applicants wanting to operate a medical marijuana dispensary. Arizona was divided into 126 community health analysis areas with only one dispensary allowed in each area. Some areas had no applicants, others had several. At the end of the day the health department issued dispensary registration certificates to only 97 of 433 applicants. But even the winners might not be allowed to open a dispensary. That's because state Attorney General Tom Horne has issued an opinion that Arizona's medical marijuana program is preempted by federal drug laws. The attorney general believes the courts should and will put a stop to the program. Here to talk about his legal opinion is Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Also joining us is Andrew Myers, campaign manager for Prop 203, the voter initiative that created the state's medical marijuana law. Good to have you both here, thanks for joining us.

Tom Horne: Good to be here.

Andrew Meyers: Thank you.

Ted Simons: The dispensaries are illegal. Why?

Tom Horne: Because the state law authorizes the sale of marijuana and federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana. And the relevant cases say that state law cannot authorize something which the federal government prohibits. The cards by contrast don't authorize anything, they simply identify people who are exempt from state criminalization. States can decriminalize marijuana. So the cards are not illegal. But anything that authorizes the growing or the sale of marijuana is preempted by federal law under the two most recent applicable cases, two out of Oregon and one out of California.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, I want to get back to the cards in a second. If illegal, why allow this dispensary operation that happened yesterday?

Tom Horne: This will not authorize the operation. There's an operating certificate that comes later. This is a registration certificate that comes out of the lottery. There's more that needs to happen. And then comes the operating certificate. I have advised the dispensary operators chosen to avoid investing more money until they see what the court says. If the court disagrees with me, obviously I don't want to delay the process. But while the Court is asked to rule on an accelerated basis, I'm advising dispensary operators to hold off on investing any money into it.

Ted Simons: Selling marijuana is against federal law, correct?

Andrew Meyers: The Controlled Substance Abuse Act has had the issue existing since 1996. The simplest answer to the question is if the federal government was interested in prohibiting states from being able to implement these programs, they would have sued a medical marijuana state and enjoined the implementation of the program long ago. Of the two cases the Attorney General refers to, one was out of 2008 in California, and one out of 2010 in Oregon. To my reading, those actually back up our view of events. This program can exist side by side with the federal program. There was a case called the County of San Diego versus San Diego Normal, and the conclusion held that the act of issuing a license for a medical marijuana dispensary or issuing a license for a medical marijuana patient didn't cause what's called a positive conflict with the Controlled Substances Act. The preamble to the Act itself says this law is not meant to occupy the entire space as it relates to the prosecution of controlled substances. But the state law, as long as it's not a positive conflict, is able to exist alongside of it. That’s what has been the law since 1996 I don't see any reason why the federal government would change the view now.

Tom Horne: The San Diego case referred to is an older case, a 2008 case. I've got a 2011 case out of California. Actually the San Diego case is the case I used to justify saying it was okay to issue the cards. But I've brought with me copies of the cases. The 2011 case is called the Pack case. In that case, the court says the law which authorizes individuals to engage in conduct that federal acts forbids stands as an obstacle to the full objectives and purposes of Congress and is therefore preempted. Similarly in the Oregon case, the 2010 case, the Court said to the extent that the Oregon law firmly authorizes the use of medical marijuana, the federal leaves it without effect, preempts it leaving it, without effect. If our state authorizes growing and selling, that's preempted, federal law is superior to state law.

Ted Simons: Obstacle to the substance of the act. Sounds like both court cases mentioned this.

Andrew Meyers: They did. I think the issue here is we're talking about a medical marijuana law, and we've seen the federal government very reticent to engage in calling medical marijuana laws as being preempted by federal law. We have a case -- the most high profile case was Gonzalez V. Raich. They went a very long way in asserting the federal government's right to prosecute medical marijuana patients under federal law, under a commerce clause provision. However, I think very importantly they did not make any mention whatsoever of preemption in that case. It would have been an excellent opportunity for them to extend that. They had an opportunity to say it, they did not in that case. The State of Arizona recently filed a suit asking the federal government to declare that the medical marijuana law was preempted by the CSA. The federal government declined to do that in that case, as well. This really is politics. Ever since the law has passed we've had this issue put before voters three times. 1996, 1998 and 2010. It's been passed all three times. We've seen that the implementation has been blocked along the way. What I would like to have seen is, if the State believes that voters do not stand behind this issue, they would have referred it to the ballot. They know they would not have won it, have they referred it. Politics is trying to stop --

Tom Horne: Let me just say. In 1996 the voters passed it. In 1997 the legislature undid it. I was opposed to the medical marijuana initiative and I led what the legislature did then. More important than my opposition was my belief that we should respect the will of the voters. Because I was on the Judiciary Committee, I headed the opposition to what the legislature did that year. Because, more important than my opposition to the medical marijuana law, was my belief that we should respect the will of the voters, because I was on the judiciary committee. I very much respect the will of the voters. But Article VI of the United States Constitution has very strong language. If federal law conflicts with state law, federal law takes precedence.

Ted Simons: With that in mind. We've heard a lot about preemption lately, especially with regard to 1070. They say, oh no, it only goes to a certain degree when it comes to states rights. Why is it applicable there but not applicable here?

Tom Horne: Preemption applies when federal law contradicts state law and doesn't apply when the two laws are consistent. In Senate Bill 1070, the Arizona laws were modeled after a federal law, and the federal government was underenforcing it. The two laws are directly contradictory. Federal law makes it illegal, state law authorizes the growing and sale of marijuana, which federal law makes illegal.

Ted Simons: Bottom line here. You mentioned side by side, working side by side.

Andrew Meyers: Sure.

Ted Simons: But can a state violate a federal law? Side by side or otherwise?

Andrew Meyers: I think it's important to remember that the Controlled Substances Act itself said that you can have state controlled substances laws that operate side by side with federal controlled substances laws. This has been happening for some time now. Colorado has a very large and robust state dispensary system, been operating completely in the view of federal officials. They have made no effort to shut down the program. No state employees have been prosecuted. Zero state employees have ever been prosecuted in the implementation of the medical marijuana program. I think what’s more important here, is medical marijuana law has been passed. Patients have a protection. The situation being created is a dangerous one. The law was never designed for people cultivating their own marijuana. The regulatory structure isn't there for cultivating marijuana. It's there for state regulated dispensaries to be able to dispense medication. There was a killing in Surprise because there was an individual growing marijuana in his home. If the dispensary were implemented, that would have been an illegal act, for him to be growing within 25 miles of a dispensary. So we have a situation where the lack of implementation on this issue is actually putting people's lives at risk and creating a dangerous situation.

Tom Horne: The federal government has shut down 58 dispensaries in Colorado and 600 in California.

Ted Simons: But they haven't shut them all down.

Tom Horne: But they are on their way to doing that, 600 in California.

Andrew Meyers: Let me point out, the federal government maintains -- and I think they are absolutely correct -- in every single case the dispensary was operating in violation of state's laws. If we can create a situation that’s a fully regulated system, the federal government has, through U.S. attorney statements and statements from the department itself.

Ted Simons: The last question, very quickly. Should a lottery winner, the folks we just saw winning on the lottery things yesterday, should they wait until the issues are worked out?

Andrew Meyers: I think that the more delays, I hope we have a speedy resolution to this issue. The more we wait, the worse off we are. An incomplete implementation of this program is far, far more dangerous than the full implementation of this program. Honestly, at the end of the day, it's a nontoxic substance, far safer than any prescription medications that would be prescribed in its stead. We don't see any increasing crime.

Tom Horne: You know I was very involved in education and I've seen a lot of kids' grades go down, lose their ambition because of marijuana. I think it's very bad for society. I think Will Humble is doing a very good job. And the case law is ultimately what we have to go by.

Ted Simons: We've got to stop right there, thank you both very much.