Inside The Star-Studded Inside Llewyn Davis Concert

Written by September 30th, 2013 at 9:39 am

inside llewyn davis

“This is a show about how folk music gets reinvented” explained actor Garrett Hedlund midway through the three-hour roots music marathon Sunday night at Town Hall. The performance, titled Another Day, Another Time, was produced and organized by Americana mastermind T Bone Burnett. Burnett recruited a wide-ranging cast of artists, spanning genres and generations, to perform at Town Hall. With such a varied mix of musical traditions to draw from, the lifeblood of the show, which was dynamic, and at times amorphous, was collaboration and community. The music performed at Town Hall felt shared, with musician pairings likely and unexpected persisting as the main thread throughout the evening.

The premise for the concert was Inside Llewyn Davis, the new film from the Coen Brothers which captures the insular dignity, triumph and tragedy of the Greenwich Village folk community in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The movie, which is in some ways the musical sequel to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou is deeply rooted in the music of Dave Van Ronk and his contemporaries, which provided the musical backbone of Burnett’s Town Hall production.

The main takeaway point of Sunday night’s show, which also served as a benefit for The National Recording Preservation Foundation, was folk’s flexibility. The performances often defied time, particularly in the first half of the evening, when Americana’s new guard played new, original material right alongside well-worn standards. Some of the night’s most exciting revelations could be found in that space between the new and the old, when lesser-known acts like Milk Carton Kids and Secret Sisters performed material that had the crowd guessing at whether it was the latter or the former. On Sunday night, old standards were reborn anew, and fresh compositions aged decades on stage. Conor Oberst turned Ian Tyson’s Canadian folk anthem “Four Strong Winds” into a pained, bleeding Bright Eyes single, while Lake Street Dive’s 2011 “You Go Down Smooth” came across as an well-aged jazz standard.

The second half of the show was anchored by legend and tradition in the hands of big personalities. Whether in Jack White’s blues revivalism, in Patti Smith’s mystic folk poetry, or Marcus Mumford’s early 60’s Dylan reimagining, the American music presented in the latter half tended more towards the more specific traditional folk aesthetics portrayed in the Coen Brothers’ film. Joan Baez, the bill’s eldest states(wo)man and undisputed legend of the evening, presided over many of the night’s collaborations, while the Punch Brothers, the young bluegrass modernists who have become Americana fixtures, served as the evening’s de-facto house band, accompanying roughly half of all performances throughout the show.

Almost three hours after the show’s start, Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac, who plays the lead role in Inside Llewyn Davis, began singing “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song), the movie’s quasi theme song. Twelve years after T Bone Burnett reintroduced traditional American music to the masses, “Dink’s Song” was suddenly and instantly contemporary, not unlike so much of the commercial acoustic pop music that has emerged over the last several years. Mumford, that genre’s figurehead, then launched into “Farewell,” a previously unreleased song from Bob Dylan, who began forever merging folk and pop shortly after the Coen Brothers’ film ends. “We’ll meet another day, another time,” Mumford sang, but that wish had already been fulfilled.

Setlist:

“Tumbling Tumbleweeds”- The Punch Brothers
“Rye Whiskey”- The Punch Brothers
“Will The Circle Be Unbroken”- Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings with The Punch Brothers
“That’s The Way It Goes”- Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings
“Midnight Special”- Willie Watson with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings
“I Hear Them All/This Land Is Your Land”- Dave Rawlings with Gillian Welch and Willie Watson
“The Last Thing On My Mind”- Stark Sands with The Punch Brothers
“New York”- The Milk Carton Kids
“Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”- The Secret Sisters
“You Go Down Smooth”- Lake Street Dive
“Please, Mr. Kennedy”- Elvis Costello with Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, T Bone Burnett and The Punch Brothers
“Four Strong Winds”- Conor Oberst with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings
“A Man Named Truth”- Conor Oberst with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings
“Tomorrow Is A Long Time”- Keb’ Mo’
“Blues Run The Game”- Colin Meloy
“I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night”- Joan Baez, Colin Meloy, and Gillian Welch
“All My Mistakes”- The Avett Brothers
“That’s How I Got To Memphis”- The Avett Brothers
“Road Full Of Doubt/Head Full Of Promise”- The Avett Brothers

Intermission

“Mama’s Angel Child” – Jack White
“Did You Hear John Hurt?”- Jack White
“We’re Going To Be Friends”- Jack White
“Water Boy”- Rhiannon Giddens
“S’iomadh Rid The Dhith Om / Ciamar A Ni Mi” – Rhiannon Giddens with The Punch Brothers
“Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”- Oscar Isaac with The Punch Brothers and Secret Sisters
“Green, Green Rocky Road”- Oscar Isaac
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”- Patti Smith
“People Have The Power”- Patti Smith with Joan Baez, The Avett Brothers, Dave Rawlings, and Lake Street Dive
“Rock Salt and Nails”- Bob Neuwirth with The Punch Brothers
“The Auld Triangle”- The Punch Brothers with Marcus Mumford
“Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” - Gillian Welch, Carey Mulligan, and Rhiannon Giddens
“500 Miles”- Elvis Costello, Carey Mulligan and Stark Sands with The Punch Brothers and Secret Sisters
“Which Side Are You On?”- Elvis Costello and Joan Baez
“House Of The Rising Sun”- Joan Baez
“Give Me Cornbread When I’m Hungry”- Joan Baez and Marcus Mumford
“I Was Young When I Left Home”- Marcus Mumford
“Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)”- Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac with The Punch Brothers
“Farewell”- Marcus Mumford with The Punch Brothers

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