Richard Julian, Norah Jones sideman and leader of Jones' side project The Little Willies, plays Midtown's Leon's Lounge this evening. Julian's 2010 Compass Records release Girls Need Attention made Lonesome, Onry and Mean's list of last year's best albums.
Julian will be performing with songwriter Rosita Kess, with whom he has been touring extensively through Spain, Italy, Germany, and France this summer. Originally from Delaware, Julian splits time between Brooklyn and New Orleans these days. An extremely accomplished guitarist, he is known for his ironic, Randy Newman-ish whip-smart lyrics and jazzy, complex folk-pop arrangements.
"I'm working on a new solo project with some New Orleans musicians, so I've spent a lot of time there the past year or so," says Julian from a Venice hotel room via Skype earlier this month. "This record will have a different feel than Girls Need Attention." So why didn't Girls get wider attention? "I think it was a little too dark and quirky for most mainstream people, even a lot of non-mainstream people," laughs Julian. "I really liked that set of songs and I think it stands up well, but I realize that one isn't for everyone." Julian and Kess spent the entire summer playing in Europe, and all without a booking agent.
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"I've been at this long enough now, I've developed some very solid friends who just put the shows together," explains Julian. "And Rosita has a good network of people throughout Europe, so we've played a bunch of shows, made some money, and got to spend the entire summer in friends' homes or in cheap hotels." As for other projects, Julian told LOM a new Little Willies album was "being mastered today." The Willies are a side-project with Norah Jones and other members of her band that specializes in retooling Hank Williams and other classic country. "I'm not sure when that will actually hit the street but it shouldn't be long," says Julian. "Norah is working on a new project right now, so she's staying very busy. But at some point we'll probably want to spend some time touring in support of that one. " Jones loaned Julian her home studio for the making of Girls Need Attention. As for further musical adventures with her, he notes "we're very, very close friends, so I'm sure that we will always be playing music with each other off and on." Julian has never headlined a show in Houston. "I played Mucky Duck with Martin Sexton a couple of years ago and I've passed through with Norah,he says, "but this will definitely be a first."
8 p.m. tonight at Leon's Lounge, 1006 McGowen, 713-659-5366.