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Laurel native returns for solo concert Friday

Guitarist Jeff Aug may have moved to Germany, but Laurel still holds a special place in his heart

By Mike Giuliano

9:07 AM EDT, May 30, 2012

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Jeff Aug has moved so far in his career as a guitarist that he now lives in a town in southern Germany, but he's returning to the town where he grew up, Laurel, for a solo concert on Friday, June 1, at 8 p.m., at Montpelier Arts Center.

Performing music from his new album, "Wedding Song," and from his four previous solo acoustic albums, the 42-year-old musician will have no shortage of material from which to draw.

Having toured with Allan Holdsworth, Soft Machine, Anne Clark and Albert Lee, as well as performing with the likes of Jawbox and Shudder to Think, Aug is also is no stranger to working within the collaborative context of a band.

The accomplishment that gained him the most attention from such media outlets as National Public Radio, however, was for setting the world record for most concerts performed in different countries in 24 hours.

Aug did six concerts in six countries in 24 hours in 2009, and then broke his own record by doing nine concerts in nine countries in 24 hours this past March. It admittedly helps that some European countries are small, but he has the videos to prove that it still involved running through a lot of airports.

Although Aug is happy being based in Europe, Laurel remains close to his heart.

"I still feel like an American. I love my country and my roots. Sometimes, I still feel like I am on vacation over here, even though it's been almost 15 years," Aug says of his time living in Germany. "I really love living over here. I love the cultures I run into, the proximity of other countries, the world view the Europeans have with regards to politics and social commentary.

"Over here, I still introduce myself as 'Jeff Aug fromWashington, D.C.' If it's a longer show, I eventually get around to explaining where Laurel is. That's a challenge in itself!"

For those who do not need such a basic explanation and, indeed, can handle more detailed geographic information, Aug's family lived on Roblynn Road in West Laurel. He attended Bond Mill Elementary and Martin Luther King Middle schools, graduated from Laurel High School in 1988 and the University of Maryland in 1992.

Other local ties included playing soccer with Laurel Boys and Girls Club, taking piano lessons from Naomi Madison, and attending Sunday school at Oseh Shalom.

The guitar also played an important role in his early life in Laurel.

"When I was 12, we visited my grandparents in Queens, N.Y., and my uncle was moving out. He had an old electric guitar and amplifier, and asked if I wanted it. I said, 'Yes, definitely!' On the drive home, all I could think about was what I was going to be doing with that guitar," Aug recalls.

"My dad helped me make a cable for it. I bought some strings and a strap, and I would sit in my basement pretending I was on stage at the Capitol Centre giving a concert. I was playing one-note melodies at the time. I was very earnest and serious.

"I bought a Jimi Hendrix book and tried learning his version of the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' " as well as doing his best imitations of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Van Halen. "I used to put the amp in the window and blast it through the neighborhood."

As a teen, he helped form a Laurel band called Zephaniah, which did covers of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and Quiet Riot. Then he helped form a band called JAB, whose letters stood for his last name and those of fellow band members Paul Jung and Mike Bowman. This band did covers of The Police and Rush.

"School wasn't so difficult, so there was a lot of time for guitar playing, and that's what I was into," Aug says. "I took guitar lessons from Laurel guitar prodigy and cellist John Whitney."

He also recalls "cops visiting our house when my band would jam outside in the backyard. You could hear it all over the neighborhood."

Although Aug grew up playing both electric and acoustic guitar, he eventually opted for a career as a solo acoustic guitarist.

"In 1992, I was playing electric in Sorry About Your Daughter, acoustic in Brandon, and playing solo instrumental acoustic guitar in coffeehouses. Eventually, the solo acoustic won out. The band didn't last, and I have to say there's nothing like going on tour and not having to lug around heavy amps or effects. There's no sound or tone more fulfilling than my guitar — pure, with no effects."

Jeff Aug performs June 1, at 8 p.m., at Montpelier Arts Center, 9652 Muirkirk Road. Tickets are $20; seniors 60 and over, and Montpelier members receive a 10-percent discount. Call 301-377-7800 or 410-792-0664, or go to http://www.arts.pgparks.com.