THE Coen brothers' last film, Inside Llewyn Davis, got rave reviews and mixed reactions. The story of a charmingly charmless self-pitying folk singer in the Sixties, it was a wonderful homage to that seminal musical age. Oscar Isaac did a great job of being Llewyn Davis, he's a good actor and an accomplished musician but professes to acute terror before he goes on stage in Another Day, Another Time.
Inspired by the music in the film, T-Bone Burnett, responsible for some great soundtracks like Crazy Heart and O Brother, Where Art Thou and more recently for the TV show True Detective, put together an amazing selection of musicians to honour folk music in a concert in the Town Hall, New York.
For a little over an hour and a half the film offers a mix between footage of the musicians constructing performances, rehearsing, giving short interviews and finally revealing their onstage efforts, all with T-Bone Burnett's benign presence wandering in the background, burning pieces of Palo Santo wood. The Coen brothers, too, float around in the background, looking appreciative.
The Punch Brothers are treated as the house band, collaborating with an incredible range of musicians, including Marcus Mumford, Joan Baez, Patti Smith and Jack White. Focusing on the broadness of folk, it encompasses a remarkably broad range of music styles within the genre, from unashamedly emotional songs about walking behind a mamma's coffin to political themes and a great rendition of The Auld Triangle, even though "none of us are Irish", it's an incredibly fitting homage to what was a great time in American music.
And yes, it does appear to be a requirement to pull strange faces.
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