Moon Taxi’s Wes Bailey is Cooking Up a Storm

The keyboardist talks food bloggers and deep-fried Vietnamese ribs.

Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. That includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing — a book, a movie, a record, whatever — that’s helping them get through this difficult time.

I’m just sitting at home like everybody else. Our whole band is in Nashville, most everybody’s pretty centralized here. I’ve been cooking a lot, it’s a good time to learn! I know it’s kind of dicey going to grocery stores, but cooking is a great hobby and it can help keep you sane. I’ve been a big fan of this food blog called Food Wishes, on YouTube, for a couple years now. The guy is named Chef John — he’s a total pro. The way he approaches the recipe videos is that you never see him. It’s just an up-close view of the task at hand. It’s a really effective way for me to learn, and there’s less silliness. It just cuts right to the point of how to make the dish. He’s super funny and witty and scrappy. I’m a big fan of his.

The Bon Appetit Kitchen is also a new obsession of mine. The test kitchen chefs are amazing and super cool, and it’s filmed in a really tasteful way. My wife and I have been watching that after we put our 8-month-old to bed. A nice glass of wine and a few recipe videos is a great way to unwind. I’ve always really loved to cook, but now I’m toying around with — our 8-month-old is getting more into real food. Of course it’s pureed, he doesn’t really have teeth! But I started roasting some squash and mango — not roasting the mango, but pureeing fruits and veggies, which has been fun.

If there was one thing I’d recommend for people is to order some good cookware and get a good spice cabinet going, and you’re off to the races. But of course there are plenty of other, cheaper, easier microwave-friendly dishes that you can do as well.

Another food blogger is Fortune Cooking, really amazing Asian cooking. I made these deep-fried Vietnamese ribs. I love ribs, I’m a huge barbecue fan, and this was a really unique technique where you deep fry the ribs after you marinate them in hoisin, ginger, garlic, and Chinese five-blend, which I didn’t have. A lot of people get deterred when there’s an ingredient they don’t have, but you can almost always Google an alternative. Anyway, I made these ribs over a really healthy veggie stir-fry. Last night I had a bunch of veggies that were going to go bad, so I sauteed those in an Indian curry paste and added coconut milk and let that simmer for about 45 minutes. That’s probably six portions worth in my Dutch oven. It saves a lot of money if you find the right recipes! You can get a pork butt for probably $14 at Publix and throw it in the instant pot and you’ve got enough pulled pork for carnitas, sandwiches, soups. Especially with a baby it’s all about saving time, making stuff that has the least amount of prep and cleanup is ideal, so I look for those kinds of recipes.

Cooking is sort of a creative outlet. You can share recipes like you can share a song on SoundCloud. You can get instant feedback, and you can share something colorful and pretty. I’ve really grown to love cooking. My wife is in the hospitality industry, so she was inevitably laid off, but honestly she hasn’t been this happy since maternity leave. Even though the unemployment checks are like $200 in Tennessee, we’re making the most. The band has a lot of tour dates in the back half of the fall, so fingers crossed that this clears up in the next couple of months! Who knows?

The coronavirus has hit many people financially, and it’s been especially tough on musicians who rely on touring to support themselves. If you’re able and inclined, check out Moon Taxi’s website and order a T-shirt, some vinyl, or whatever they’ve got on offer. Every little bit helps.

(Photo Credit: left, Jake Matthews; right, Jake Matthews)

Nashville band Moon Taxi has been taking their genre-bending musicality around the world since 2006, playing everywhere from the Ryman to big festivals. In a dynamic new era for the band — vocalist/guitarist Trevor Terndrup, guitarist Spencer Thomson, bassist Tommy Putnam, keyboardist Wes Bailey, and drummer Tyler Ritter — their upcoming fifth album Silver Dream broadens their sonic palette, exploring everything from folk to soul to inventively crafted electronic pop.

(Photo Credit: Jake Matthews)