music mondays: inside llewyn davis

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The Coen brothers’ new movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, isn’t out yet, but the soundtrack is currently streaming online. I’ve been excited for both the film and soundtrack for a few months now, so am happy to finally have one. Maybe it’s poor film etiquette to listen to the soundtrack so thoroughly before actually watching the movie, but. I don’t care.

I’m sure it doesn’t count for much to call myself a Coen fan, and I admit I haven’t seen all their films, but I’ve seen enough to expect good things. And as a folk music (and JT) lover, the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis had me hooked immediately.

Some great things about the album:

  • Multiple features of the Punch Brothers (I’ve loved Chris Thile since I was 14)
  • It reminds me that I once liked Marcus Mumford
  • JT singing like a man with a beard and falsetto would sing
  • Adam Driver (AKA Hannah Horvath‘s crazy bf) “singing” about outer space with JT and Oscar Isaac

It speaks so loudly of the Coen brothers’ talent that they can make films in which the soundtrack and score act as another character (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and others in which the absence of any soundtrack or score (No Country For Old Men) serves as a vital plot device. Obviously T-Bone Burnett plays a huge role in the musical side of these films, but the Coens have to create the initial idea and environment in which music can grow to feature so largely in a film.

Another reason to love this soundtrack: Oscar Isaac is just such a treat. He sings “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me”, the album opener, with this folksy earnestness that I love. Isaac plays Llewyn Davis, a singer-songwriter making his way through the 60s NYC folk music scene. I doubt the Coens would have, but thank God they didn’t cast a lead actor without any singing talent. (Despite not seeing the movie yet, I know it would be less enjoyable with lip-syncing.) Isaac went to Juilliard and was the lead guitarist (and sang vocals) for the band The Blinking Underdogs.

Inside Llewyn Davis isn’t out until December 20. For now, I’ll settle for the soundtrack.

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good eats and the fight against daylight savings.

The November day when daylight savings starts is my least favorite day of the year. This is my thirteenth year in Ohio, and I still get sort of blindsided by the shorter days and early sunsets. Not that daylight savings doesn’t happen in the rest of the country, but I feel its effect more here.

This year, in an effort to both battle against and brace myself for the encroaching 5PM darkness, I cranked up the volume on The Soul Album and made a huge pot of soup. (Also because I welcome any opportunity to use my Le Creuset stock pot.)

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So I had a rather large zucchini squash and knew my mom had this recipe for an Italian soup with tortellini and zucchini. I changed her recipe a bit, so we will call this:

Fight Daylight Savings Soup

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 large zucchini squash, diced
  • 1 large yellow squash, diced
  • 3/4 ish c. onion, diced
  • 3/4 ish c. carrot, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz can crushed/diced tomatoes (just don’t buy the can of whole tomatoes, unless you have an immersion blender)
  • 1 lb Italian or hot sausage (apparently Italian sausage was a hot commodity when I went to the grocery, so I settled with Bob Evan’s Zesty Hot sausage, which actually gave the soup a nice kick)
  • 3 c. tortellini
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • grated parmesan
  • desire to show daylight savings who’s boss

IMG_6213Obviously the Reese’s cups weren’t part of the soup, but hurray for discounted Halloween candy (a major help in the fight against dark days)!

Simmer the onion, carrots, garlic, and broth for 30 minutes. I said “3/4 ish cup” for the onions and carrots because I don’t measure too strictly (or at all) unless I’m baking. My mom’s recipe uses a half cup of each, but I like a heartier soup (sidebar: is “hearty” the most-used adjective to describe soups?) so I chopped a little more. Boo is always very curious what’s happening in the kitchen.

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While that simmers, sauté the sausage until cooked through. When your thirty minutes are up, add the diced squash, sausage, can of tomatoes (and juice), basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. So when I said I don’t really measure, that also applied to the spices. I didn’t measure those, I just added as I tasted, but would estimate I put about a teaspoon of basil and oregano each.

I diced the squash up fairly small, because while I do like to have a full soup, I don’t like having huge chunks of veggies and other ingredients. I also added some water, as the soup was getting pretty thick.

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Simmer for another hour and a half, or longer. I let mine simmer for quite a few hours because I just wasn’t ready for dinner after an hour and a half. When you’re ready to eat, add the tortellini and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so. They like to stay floating up at the top.

IMG_6212And finally, garnish with fresh, chopped parsley and/or grated parmesan and an “F you daylight savings!”

IMG_6210I’ve found that the tortellini really thickens up the soup a lot after storing the leftovers. Next time, I may just add the tortellini for each meal. Enjoy!

music mondays: allyse huey, aka adubz

This week’s Music Monday is a shameless plug for my friend, songwriter and musician Allyse Huey (formerly known as ADubz).

Allyse and I were roommates for a long time until she decided she’d rather live with a boy. Lame. But I’ve been able to see her growth as a musician firsthand and am so proud of her. The rest of our roommates and I have teased Allyse for having so many hobbies over the years, but music has always been the one that sticks. She used to scoff at my musical tastes, but I think after making her a mixtape of mostly folk music a few years back, she saw the light. And now’s she’s a songwriter in her own right.

Allyse has become very involved with the Columbus Songwriters Association and has been playing open mics and other local shows for the last year or two (I need a fact checker). In college, we used to beg Allyse to play some songs for us, but she typically did not oblige us. I love to see her get up on a stage now, fearlessly performing songs that she has written. I’m so impressed by her gift to write both lyrics and music.

Take a look at her website, facebook page, and soundcloud to hear some songs. My favorites are “Stay” and “Vultures Will Circle”, but also check out “The Vineyard” and “Pool of Dreams” for Allyse’s killer whistling skills, of which I’ve always been jealous. She’s recorded everything herself so far, but will be recording with a sound engineer this week, yay!

Allyse will be playing this Wednesday night at The Tree Bar.

so I asked Stephen Thompson a question.

Stephen Thompson (of NPR Music and the AV Club) runs this column on NPR called The Good Listener. In the column, he answers questions that people send in, ranging from How do I name my band? to How do I learn to love country music?

So I recently sent in a question about set lengths for live shows. And Stephen answered! My email was a little long, so they shortened it on the blog site (and made some edits, what’s the deal guys?). Here’s what I originally asked:

I’ve got a two-parter question for Stephen Thompson’s The Good Listener column. 1. How long do you think a set should be for a headlining band on tour? 2. Should a band always play their “hits” at a live show?
I go to a decent amount of shows, and lately have been surprised by the shortness of sets. This week I saw Franz Ferdinand, and they were awesome. Their set started around 9 and was over by 10:30. I know it takes a lot of energy to rock out, but it surprised me that they were done so early. They also didn’t play “Right Action”. I wasn’t too bugged by that because I like other tracks more (which they played), but did think it was strange for a band to skip their current single.
Recently I won tickets to see Ani DiFranco. She also put on a great show, but played an even shorter set, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes. Since I got my tickets for free, I couldn’t be too upset about the length. But, I did think if I’d paid $30 plus Ticketmaster fees and was a long-standing fan, I might have been a little ticked she didn’t play longer. Especially since she has such a huge discography to work with.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how long a band should play, but is there a magic set length? Should you get a longer set if the show is more expensive? I’ll keep going to live shows, and will always pay to see a band I really like, but I hope shorter sets don’t become commonplace.

Stephen pretty much said, “It depends.” I knew I was asking a question that likely wouldn’t receive a definitive answer, but it’s nice to hear perspective from someone who’s been writing about music for awhile. And I was mostly just excited to get a response. Here’s the link to the post.

The thing about the two shows I listed in my email is, I actually won both those tickets. I’m really not complaining about the length of either because I’m not a crazy big-time fan of FF or Ani, but was more just surprised by what seemed to be a trend in shorter sets. I wrote about Ani’s show a few weeks ago.

So what do you guys think? Have you dropped a lot of money for a show and been disappointed with the length and/or song selection? Can a concert be too long or too short? (I say yes to both.) Do you have an ideal length?