On Saturday, October 12th, Chris Thile brought his Live From Here variety show to The Town Hall in New York City. This edition of the show featured a number of high-profile guests including Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, Pulitzer Prize-winning musician, composer, and bandleader Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, award-winning actor Edward Norton, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, comedian/The Daily Show correspondent Dulcé Sloan, and more alongside Thile’s talented house band featuring Brittany Haas on fiddle, Chris “Critter” Eldridge on guitar, Brett Williams on keys, Kush Abadey on drums, and musical director Mike Elizondo on bass.

Before a nationwide audience tuned in via American Public Media, Jarosz led Thile and the house band through an old song she learned from Tim O’Brien, “Foreign Lander”. After some “housekeeping” from Thile and 40 seconds of improv to buy time before the start of the radio broadcast, the show got started in earnest with its customary Vulfpeck “Fugue State” intro.

Lester Flatt-penned bluegrass classic “I’m Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open” got the show started, leading Thile to introduce the evening’s theme: “The wee-est, smallest hour of the morning,” when only “the drunkest among us haven’t found our way home, only the soberest of us are out pretending we love to jog.”

Thile continued to dive into the “wee hours” theme from there, explaining to the crowd that these days, he only sees that late-night hour when he’s barely making a writing deadline. Chris then spoke of his memories of his father using a ham radio when he was a child. The elder Thile would reach out into the ether with the equivalent of a late-night “u up?” text using the customary morse code for soliciting a chat: “C-Q”. “Seek You”. That anecdote served as the introduction to a brand new song, which Thile noted he finished writing the previous night at 4:35 a.m. Taking inspiration from Rush‘s “YYZ”, the new fantastically eerie new track, “Seek You”, used the morse code for “C-Q” as its rhythmic structure.

As the song finished, the crowd began to erupt—Trey Anastasio had taken the stage, Languedoc in hand. Trey’s first appearance began with a rendition of Phish favorite, “Theme From The Bottom”. Hoist ballad “If I Could” came next, Jarosz beautifully handling the track’s Allison Krauss vocal parts.

Trey Anastasio w/ Sarah Jarosz, Chris Thile, More – “Theme From The Bottom” – Live From Here – 10/12/19

[Video: themeboudin]

Trey Anastasio – “If I Could” w/ Sarah Jarosz, Chris Thile, More – “If I Could” – Live From Here – 10/12/19

[Video: Live From Here]

An amusing account of a trip to the brewery city of Milwaukee during Oktoberfest by comedian/head writer Tom Papa came next for the recurring “Out In America” segment. After a boogie-woogie “Good Morning Judge” interlude, Sarah Jarosz traded in her guitar for a mandolin to lead the house band through a Joanna Newsom favorite, “The Book of Right On”.

Next, actor Edward Norton took the stage to give context on his latest film, Motherless Brooklyn. In addition to reading a passage from the Jonathan Lethem-penned book on which the film was based, Norton explained how he commissioned a song (“Daily Battles“) for the film from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, which Wynton Marsalis then re-arranged as a Miles Davis-style jazz tune as an homage to the film’s 1950s setting.

Edward Norton Talks Motherless BrooklynThom Yorke, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis, & More – Live From Here – 10/12/19

[Video: Live From Here]

A Jarosz-sung rendition of “Daily Battles” ensued before the house band ceded the stage to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The wildly talented collection of world-class jazz musicians stole the show with their two-song segment, featuring various soloists throughout. Thile joined in with “one of the greatest bands [he has] ever heard in [his] life” for their second number before the house band played through a commercial break.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis – “Homer’s Blues” – Live From Here – 10/12/19

[Video: Live From Here]

A rendition of Dixie Chicks‘s “Cowboy Take Me Away” in honor of the recent birthdays of Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines gave Jarosz a chance to pay homage to her Texas roots. Yet another birthday tribute, this time to Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and human rights activist Fela Kuti, came next in the form of a jazzy “Zombie”.

Continuing with the birthday tributes, Thile paid homage to the great Angela Lansbury with delightfully morbid Sweeny Todd number, “A Little Priest”, explaining that Stephen Sondheim added the song to the play as part of a character expansion to convince Lansbury to play the female lead of Miss Lovett. Rounding out the birthday portion of the show, Thile once again welcomed Trey Anastasio to the stage to honor rock and roll pioneer, Chuck Berry, with a rendition of “Back In The U.S.A.”.

Musician Birthday Tributes – Live From Here – 10/12/19

[Video: Live From Here]

After some banter about how Trey chooses “four-ish” songs from his massive catalog for these kinds of shows, Anastasio led the band into “just a song that I like right now,” Ghosts of the Forest‘s “A Life Beyond The Dream”.

A comedic interlude ensued with a brief stand-up spot by the hilarious Dulcé Sloan before Thile retook the reins and guided the show back into the “wee hours” with a delicate take on The Magnetic Fields‘ “Infinitely Late At Night”. Next, fiddler Brittany Haas led the group through a trio of thematically-appropriate instrumentals “Drunk at Night, Dry in the Morning”, “Brennivín’s Polska”, and “Half Past Four”.

After another amusing Tom Papa essay—this time about how kids make the worst roommates—the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra once again commanded the stage with a rendition of Duke Ellington‘s “Concerto For Cootie” led by trumpet soloist Ryan Kaiser. Before their second song of this segment, Thile noted that it was Wynton Marsalis’ birthday next week, and he had asked him if he had any birthday wishes. Wynton’s response: To hear Ryan Kaiser play “Concerto for Cootie”. Wynton got his wish, after all.

With Marsalis and company still seated, Trey once again took the stage. “Fellas, you’ve worked up something together, I hear,” Chris said knowingly before the Trey-augmented orchestra dove into a jazz-inflected new arrangement of Phish’s “Blaze On”, Trey visibly excited by the results as he bounced, pumped his fist, and encouraged the crowd to sing along with the song’s titular refrain.

“Blaze On” marked the end of the radio broadcast, but those in attendance were in store for one last hurrah—a celebratory reprise of the show-opening “I’m Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open” featuring Trey, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and the full house band.

Trey Anastasio & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis – “Blaze On” [Pro-Shot] – 10/12/19

[Video: Live From Here]

The next edition of Live From Here with Chris Thile will take place at The Town Hall on October 26th featuring guest appearances by Paul SimonRachael & Virlay, and Rachael Price. For more information, head here.