Young Julian, And Younger Julian

Julian Lage (right) and Tupac Mantilla perform a Tiny Desk Concert. Watch the performance. i i

hide captionJulian Lage (right) and Tupac Mantilla perform a Tiny Desk Concert. Watch the performance.

Mito Habe-Evans/NPR
Julian Lage (right) and Tupac Mantilla perform a Tiny Desk Concert. Watch the performance.

Julian Lage (right) and Tupac Mantilla perform a Tiny Desk Concert. Watch the performance.

Mito Habe-Evans/NPR

Two videos featuring the guitarist Julian Lage to show you. The first is our Tiny Desk Concert with his trio. Their performance is really the reason why we use the verb "to play" to describe what musicians do. Their enthusiasm is a treat to behold, and they were, like, the nicest dudes ever.

I'll get to the second video in a bit. But between songs two and three, Lage mentions something called MusicWriteNow. As he explains it, it's a blog which serves as a way to drive himself to compose. Lage issues a call to action like, say, write a song in 30 minutes, every day for 30 days. And then his friends and colleagues can join him — if they wish — which stimulates the good kind of peer pressure, the "we're in this together" kind.

If you look back at the archives, you can actually see that Lage tried to edit a few of them so his band could play them at his May 2, 2011 show at Washington, D.C.'s Blues Alley. That was the excuse for bringing the band into our office for a Tiny Desk Concert. Turns out he didn't actually finish this particular challenge to the degree he wanted, but he was able to refine at least one tune. "Untitled (No. 24)" is the third song the trio played for us. If you go back, you can hear the rough draft, which he provisionally titled "The Settlement":

I did catch the second set of the Julian Lage Trio at Blues Alley, and I don't recall that they busted out any other tunes from the 30-day experiment. (I didn't catch the first set, though.) Lage did tell us about his project with his friend, singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy, where he writes a melody and she writes a lyric. The idea is to write "fake standards" — songs that seem like they belong in the Great American Songbook. (I don't remember what it was called, but I remember liking the tune he played for us.) This, from the guy whose last recording is vaguely a concept album about the many facets of the imaginary town of Gladwell.

Young Julian (he's 23!) clearly has a lot of ideas floating about, but he's also committed to making them into real tunes, songs that feel worked-on and lived-in. Perhaps that's also part of why his band is so fun to watch.

Finally, speaking of watching him play, I think this clip of Lage at age eight is real, and it is cute:

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.