No less a music authority than Barbra Streisand turned up on Wednesday night in Hollywood for the west coast folk concert honoring Ethan and Joel Coen’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. Streisand came to the Buffalo Club in santa Monica with husband James brolin who told me: “This is amazing. It’s hard to get her to come to these things, and she was impressed.” Barbra then turned to me and affirmed what James said, “I am very impressed. Lots of talent on that stage.”
Some other VIPs included Peggy Siegel, Norman Lear, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, Mary Kay Place, Thora Birch Ed Helms, Christopher Lloyd, Steve Martin and wife Anne, Fred and Mary Willard, Josh Gad and his wife Ida, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Patricia Arquette, Marisa Tomei, Gina Gershon, Steve Levitan, Mary Kay Place, Stephen Gaghan, Marc Forster, Nastassja Kinski and John Goodman.
Joel and Ethan Coen were also there along with their longtime musical collaborator T-Bone Burnett. Producer Scott Rudin and CBS President Leslie Moonves, hosted the event, which was titled, ‘A Special Musical Evening Honoring T-Bone Burnett and Joel and Ethan Coen.’ The gifted performers included The Punch Brothers, the sensational Rhiannon Giddens (I know this young lady, she is the Billie Holiday of our times) Milk Carton Kids, Willie Watson, Sean & Sara Watkins and the talented actor/musician Oscar Isaac, who is one of the stars of the film.
Steve Martin did a set with the band playing his banjo. He quipped as he got on the stage, “I’m so honored to be accepting this award.” Martin gets an honorary Oscar this week.
Ted Danson, whose wife Mary Steenburgen is now a musician told me that, “These performers are extraordinary. They so love the music, it’s so pure and they are enthralling to watch.”
Ted also told me that he’s excited about the possible upcoming ‘Bored To Death’ film based on his cancelled HBO series. “I’m on ‘CSI’ now, I’m enjoying it, but I miss comedy. So if it happens, which I think it will, I’ll be thrilled.”
Joel Cohen told me, “Whenever I get to listen to these guys, it’s amazing from me. T -Bone is the man. The night went great and everybody had fun, that’s what it’s all about.”
I then mentioned that this earnest, low-key lovely night was pretty atypical for Hollywood. Joel quipped, “I don’t know what Hollywood nights are, but I’m enjoying it.”
T-Bone told me about this love of this music is deep rooted. “I’ve been looking for performers like these for 30 years. These young people, all in their early 20’s to mid 30’swere born at the end of the last century, and coming of age in this one. They’ve been able to learn and absorb a wide range of music, from classical, to bluegrass to jazz and folk. Chris Thile, the mandolin player from The Punch Brothers, in my view is the Louis Armstrong of this century. He’s one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever seen. I’m constantly on the lookout for these people.”
I asked how it was working with the brothers? He replied, “This is my fourth film with the Cohens. They are beautifully rewarding and unbelievable fun.”
T-Bone is currently scoring the upcoming HBO series ‘True Detective,’ which is his first electronic score. I asked if there was a next Cohen Brothers movie coming up?
He answered, “There is talk of a film that Joel told me that is “still in the air.” But if there is, I’ll do that.”
T-Bone summed it up by wisely saying; “This kind of music restores my faith in music. They are pure musicians coming from the heart. They’re all young, but they’re all old souls.”