Media Life: Roster for Auburn’s premier outdoor show complete

Laurence Juber’s onstage tribute to luthier Lance McCollum; Jason Mackenroth on tour with Blue Man Group
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A

The Party in the Park table has now been set.
Scott Holbrook, the party’s musically astute founder and self-described pied piper, said he’s thrilled to announce that Sacramento singer-songwriter Kate Gaffney will fill the opening slot on the bill.
Gaffney, a social worker turned chanteuse, released her second CD “The Coachman” this past fall, with support from Mumbo Gumbo members and Dylanesque bluesmeister Jackie Greene.
Holbrook has already locked in Bay Area guitar-fiddle band The Waybacks for the top of the June 19 bill.
The roster is a change of pace from last year’s reggae-heavy Marley Meets Tosh reggae all-star Party in the Park. Gaffney – whose song-set melds blues, country, swamp and even a smattering of power pop (thus says the Philadelphia Enquirer review) – should fit right into a more rootsy groove.
Holbrook caught Gaffney’s appearance at Sacramento’s Torch Club and was impressed enough to sign her on. Last June’s PITP drew upward of 3,000 people. Needless to say it’s a great chance for some big-time exposure for any local artist.
Holbrook’s verdict: “Kate brings a freshness and perspective to her music that is instantly listenable and very enjoyable,” Holbrook said. “Be it solo with an acoustic guitar or rockin’ with the band, the thoughtfulness and honesty of her music shines through.”

While one ex-Wings member will be playing to an audience of millions this Sunday on the Grammy Awards another put on an indelible show Wednesday down the hill from Auburn in Newcastle.
Sir Paul McCartney, ex-Wing, ex-Beatle and ex-Quarryman, will be performing at the 51st annual Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles. He’s a nominee for best rock vocal of the year and best male pop vocal performance.
Laurence Juber, guitar player with Wings from 1978 to 1981, played far from the Tinseltown hoopla, giving an audience of about 100 at Newcastle’s Constable Jack’s an artful two-hours-plus schooling in solo acoustic guitar pyrotechnics.
Juber, whose various voicings were impeccable, paid homage to the Beatles – and Wings – with several songs. He also dipped deep into his own catalog of originals, as well as tunes as diverse as Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow.”
The London-born-Los-Angeles resident took time out to pay a heartfelt tribute to Colfax guitar maker Lance McCollum, who died Sunday at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital after suffering an aortic aneurysm. McCollum’s handmade guitars have been magic in the hands of guitar players like Juber since the ex-surfer took a chance on a career change from carpentry in the mid-1990s.
Still in his early 50s, McCollum’s loss is one felt deeply within the acoustic guitar community. His guitars are in the prized collections of Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp, Kenny Loggins, Alex DeGrassi and Celtic folkie Dougie McClain, to just name a few. Even actress Renee Zellweger commissioned a McCollum, which can cost upwards of $12,000.
Juber, who learned of McCollum’s passing the day before the Newcastle concert, fittingly dedicated a song midway through his first set to a highly regarded luthier who will be missed by musicians from all corners of the guitar world.
Juber’s tribute song? George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Jason Mackenroth’s status with the Blue Man Group has just been upgraded.
Mackenroth, who made a big impact in Auburn four years ago with a drumline percussion suite opening for TV icon Robert Conrad, has been part of the Blue Man Group’s band in Las Vegas for the past year. Now he’s been chosen as tour drummer for the first leg of this year’s world tour.
The Blue Man Group Megastar World Tour launches Feb. 15 with Mackenroth aboard. The tour includes eight weeks in Lisbon, Portugal, a variety of venues in the United Kingdom, and two weeks in Tel Aviv, Israel.
While living in Auburn, Mackenroth was keeping his Los Angeles-based connection going while finding time to perform with his drum ensemble at the Conrad fundraiser for the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center. The drummer spent almost two decades with the Los Angeles band Mother Superior, including backing punk kingpin Henry Rollins, and has since branched out leading Mack, his own band. He’s currently writing songs for a follow-up to the self-titled 2005 debut CD. Jason’s the son of Auburn attorney Dave Mackenroth.
Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at