Bar LunÁtico is honored to host Julian Lage and Chris "Critter" Eldridge! They will be performing selections from Avalon, their first full-length album. Avalon is a vivid snapshot of this duo’s repertoire, circa 2014; a portrait of a burgeoning friendship between two virtuosic players; and, at its heart, a pristinely recorded love letter to the sound of the acoustic guitar. At the urging of fan and friend Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids, who served first as instigator and then as producer of this project, Lage and Eldridge spent two days last April recording live at a small gem of 1920’s theatre, the Avalon in Easton, Maryland, on the picturesque Eastern Shore. The pair culled 11 songs from its set – a mix of originals and covers that illustrate the breadth of the American songbook as Lage and Eldridge see it, incorporating bluegrass, country, gospel, old-time music and jazz. There was no playback, no overdubs, just the duo’s eloquent, in-the-moment musical repartee, all filtered through Pattengale’s discerning ear.
The prodigious Lage has, literally since childhood, been highly regarded in jazz and new music circles for his own work as well as for his collaborations with such artists as Gary Burton, Nels Cline, Fred Hersch, and Jim Hall, among many others. Eldridge is equally noted in the progressive bluegrass world for his stints with the Seldom Scene and the Infamous Stringdusters, which led to his joining Chris Thile’s adventurous, Grammy-nominated quintet, Punch Brothers. It was backstage after a Boston Punch Brothers gig that Eldridge met Lage, who’d come at the urging of Béla Fleck to meet with Chris Thile about a recording date. Among Lage’s most vivid memories of the evening was meeting Eldridge: “I had my guitar and he had his and I said, ‘Hey, you want to play something?’ It was little bit of love at first sight. I thought, this guy gets it. This guy has the same reverence for the acoustic guitar that I have and has such a perfect touch. It’s not overly muscular, it’s very elegant, very curious, it was just beautiful. And I was really moved.”
Eldridge returns the compliment: “I hadn’t heard him play before so those first couple of tunes were pretty mind-boggling. There was an instant friendship, both musically and personally. Though he is a few years younger than me, Julian is someone I really look up to. He represents everything I love about guitar playing and a lot of what I love about music. He’s a total guitar genius, really, but what’s more impressive is the tremendous humanity that Julian is working with. He uses these superhuman powers at the service of connection, of connecting on some kind of great human level. You can probably hear that in his playing. I know you can feel it playing music with him. “