12/11/2013 08:01 am ET Updated Dec 11, 2013

T Bone Burnett Explains Why The Punch Brothers Rule On 'The Auld Triangle' From 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

At the "Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating The Music Of "Inside Llewyn Davis'" concert event in New York this past September, The Punch Brothers -- Chris Thile, Gabe Witcher, Noam Pikelny, Chris Eldridge and Paul Kowert -- acted as the evening's de facto house band, lending support to legendary singers such as Jack White, Patti Smith, Joan Baez and Elvis Costello. (A televised version of the event airs on Showtime on Dec. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.)

"The Punch Brothers are the leading the musicians in the world today," Oscar winner and "Inside Llewyn Davis" executive music producer T Bone Burnett told HuffPost Entertainment in a recent interview. "I've said many times, and will continue to say so: Chris Thile is the Louis Armstrong of his time. He's coming at the beginning of the century, he's reinventing an instrument [the mandolin]. He's creating a whole new vibrant form of music, out of folk music, just like Armstong did at the beginning of the last century. I hold The Punch Brothers in highest regard."

No wonder, then, that Burnett drafted The Punch Brothers to sing "The Auld Triangle" alongside Marcus Mumford and "Llewyn Davis" co-star Justin Timberlake on the "Inside Llewyn Davis" soundtrack.

"It's a moving a song and funny as hell," Burnett said of the tune, an Irish standard written for the 1954 play "The Quare Fellow." "I don't know how that came about it was just there. It was just a really beautiful song. It's interesting working with the Coens [Joel and Ethan, who directed the film] because they're so generous and collaborative and open, so everyone can put anything on the table. At the end day, you don't know who did what."

During the September event to celebrate the folk music that fills the film, The Punch Brothers and Mumford sang the song to an enthralled audience at New York's Town Hall. Thile, in particular, drew big laughs during the track's last verse, which discusses, among other things, a women's prison from the perspective of a lonely man.

"In the movie we don't play the comedy verse up," Burnett said. "I don't even know if it's in the movie at all."

Also not in the movie are The Punch Brothers themselves. Despite so many contributions to the "Llewyn Davis" soundtrack, the group is absent from the screen. Not that Burnett didn't try to get them in there.

"We wanted them to sing 'The Auld Triangle' in the movie," he recalled, "but they had a gig the day."

Watch The Punch Brothers and Marcus Mumford perform "The Auld Triangle" at the "Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating The Music Of "Inside Llewyn Davis'" above.



'Inside Llewyn Davis' Concert