Julian Lage: The Prodigy Grows Up

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Julian Lage
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Before most kids can tie their shoes, Julian Lage was learning his way around a guitar. His interest in playing was inspired by his father, who picked up the instrument after Eric Clapton’s Unplugged came out. At age five, Lage got a guitar of his own and began studying with his dad. “He would show me everything he learned,” Lage tells Kurt Andersen.

But it was a meeting a few years later that would change Lage’s life and set the direction of his career. He went to a Carlos Santana show with his parents — and walked right through the stage door to meet the musician. “It blows my mind to think about now,” Lage explains, “there was zero security.” Santana invited Lage to play onstage — an appearance that put the young guitarist on the map. Lage even had a documentary made about him when he was eight years old. But unlike many protégés who burn out, Lage has kept going. He became a bandleader and composer, performing with musicians like Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, and Bela Fleck.

For all his playing and composing, Lage has never made a solo record — until now. He says his forthcoming record will be a form of “guitar advocacy.” “The guitar can do these things and it’s so evocative,” he says. “Let me show you.”

Music Playlist

  1. Forties

    Artist: Julian Lage
  2. Jig

    Artist: Julian Lage