Jazz guitarist Julian Lage and bluegrass guitarist Chris Eldridge just released their second album together called “Mount Royal.” Nine of its 12 tracks are instrumentals with Eldridge lending his vocals on the other three.
Eldridge is a member of the acoustic supergroup The Punch Brothers, and when he and Lage met backstage at a show, the jamming began in earnest. The pair released their first record, “Avalon,” in 2014. They’re on the road on what’s being called the “Release the Hounds” tour, and they’re bringing Aofie O’Donovan with them. My jaw dropped when I first got wind of this show because I’m all about O’Donovan, but hold that thought for a moment.
Lage and Elridge are new to me, so I dove right into “Mount Royal” and was immediately met with the fantastic tune “Bone Collector.” The song drew me in within seconds with an acoustic guitar version of a drum line, and it held my attention for the entire five minutes with intricacies and flurries and an emotional layer that reminded me that I need to listen to more instrumental music. That said, Chris Eldridge is a more than capable vocalist as proven on the heartbreaking tune “Sleeping By Myself.”
Here’s “Bone Collector”
The journey through “Mount Royal” was never a dull one. It was like taking a train ride that passed through valleys, through mountains, through forests and along the seashore. I never quite knew what was coming next, and the moments of discovery were wondrous. Lage and Eldridge are both absolutely masterful players and listening to them infuse jazz, bluegrass, folk and more into their dozen-song tapestry was an experience I can’t wait to hear live, so I’ll be happily making my way to Brownfield for this show.
At the Stone Mountain Arts Center, you enter through the smaller barn, walk down a ramp type of structure and then into into the main performance space. Every time I go there, that moment when the door is opened makes me feel like Dorothy entering the magical technicolor land of Oz.
And in Oz, just like at Stone Mountain Arts Center, anything can happen. In this case, not only will Lage and Eldrige perform, Aoife O’Donovan will be kicking the night off with a solo, acoustic set. Last year, O’Donovan released “In The Magic Hour,” and it’s sacred to me. Her voice is gorgeous and her lyrics, like in “Porch Light,” reach inside my heart and stay there for a good long time. “The darkest night I ever seen/It was the night you came to me on your knees whispering ‘I’m sorry’/Keeping time with your heartbeat.”
The last time I saw O’Donovan was in October in Asheville, North Carolina, and she was charming, singing her ethereal tunes while I sat, and then stood, riveted.
Here’s “Porch Light”
So get your tickets and head to Brownfield on Saturday night. O’Donovan will play, then Lage and Eldridge. And they’ll close out the night together with what’s being called an “aural hootenanny.” By this time, I’ll likely be on the floor having passed out from so much live music joy in one night, but you can wave to me on your way out.
By the way, here’s a mother of a fun fact: It’s been recently announced that The Punch Brothers will be back this summer with a show at Portland’s State Theatre on July 29. Also on that bill is I’m With Her, the trio of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan. Oh, and you know who else will be there? Say it with me: Julian Lage. This is quite possibly going to be the best live music year ever. Care to join me?
8 p.m. Saturday. Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield, $36. stonemountainartscenter.com