By Marion Filler
Acoustic guitar players Glenn Terry and Malachi Dee, both 29, call their duo LUCA.
That’s short for Last Universal Common Ancestor, explained Terry.
“It’s a scientific term referring to the notion that we all come from a common ancestor billions of years ago.”
Though not quite a billion years old, the Boonton Township natives have been friends since kindergarten.
Music has been their common thread, and they hope to top 14 other descendants of the universal ancestor at Morristown Onstage, a Feb. 26, 2020, competition at the Mayo Performing Arts Center for amateurs from Greater Morristown.
“We started playing guitar together,” said Terry. “As soon as we had fake I.D.s, Morristown is where we came. It was the hub. It was the place to be.”
Terry left for a few years to earn a doctorate in physical therapy.
“But when he was home for breaks, we would always be jamming, teaching each other the songs we were writing,” Dee recounted. Both men now live in Morristown, and are growing a local following.
Morristown Onstage landed on their radar screens when Terry met emcee Tara Bernie at an event; the opportunity to perform at the Mayo Performing Arts Center proved irresistible.
“To play on a stage like that, and to know who has played there before us, is amazing,” Terry said. “I called Mal and said, ‘Dude, we’ve got to get ourselves an audition.'”
Not only did they ace the tryout; so did Dee’s sister, Neillea. She will compete against her brother’s act for the $1,000 top prize, performing an original song, Lift You Up.
The siblings swear they are rooting for each other.
“She listens to me, and I listen to her…it’s very much a healthy competition,” Malachi Dee said. “I’ve told her to breathe, and relax. She does great when she tries to execute her own thing.”
LUCA will perform its own original composition, Water. It took about three years to perfect. Malachi Dee wrote lyrics and chord progressions, and waited for Terry to pull everything together.
“This song is very special to us. It’s almost a journey,” said Terry, describing the fluid movement between the two guitars. “It captures our essence.”
Produced by the nonprofit Morris Educational Foundation, Morristown Onstage is open to amateurs who live, work or study in Morristown, Morris Township or Morris Plains, and to alumni of Morristown High School. From more than 60 acts that auditioned, 15 were chosen to compete on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Show business pros will award $1,000 to the top youth and adult performers, and the audience favorite will take home $500. Tickets: $29-$79. Proceeds benefit Morris School District programs.