Tag Archives: Marcus Mumford

Folk the World

4 Oct

In sitting down and thinking of folk artists I really like, it became apparent to me that folk is the red-headed stepchild everyone loves to criticize, but secretly enjoys.  Very few artists are “folk.”  James Taylor was clearly a folkie underneath his porous shield of vulnerability, yet he’s considered a singer/songwriter.  The Byrds, The Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all were examples of bands that took folk roots (such as multi-part harmonies and 12 string acoustic guitars) and branched out into a more traditional rock sound and Johnny Cash first and foremost was country.  But I am here to glorify some guys that, although they may dabble in other genres, are folk through and through.

Bob Dylan is the most important single person in music since the 60s.  Period.  The Beatles may have been more popular, the Stones had more swag and Zeppelin was more talented, but as an individual no one influenced music more than Dylan.  On one hand, he was a traditional folk singer, a common man against the world as he became a leader of the counterculture movement with such songs as “Blowing in the Wind” and “The Times They are A Changin”.  Upon seeing just just how wild the Beatles could make the ladies, he went electric and spawned folk rock.  Even later, Dylan borrowed the use of the 12 string guitar and helped to create yet another genre, country rock.  That being said, Dylan remains a folk icon. (The video below is included just because it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen).

Going in a whole new direction, Mumford and Sons are a folk band and one of my favorite bands of the past year or two.  You may have just heard the name or maybe listened to “Little Lion Man” on the radio but I’m here to tell you to listen to more.  The band has a unique lineup. Lead singer Marcus Mumford usually plays acoustic guitar, singing and also doing percussion with a kick drum (Letterman joked that they would take the money from going on his show to buy a real drummer) and the band also includes a banjo, stand up bass and a keyboardist.  However, they still do change things up a bit as someone will sometimes get on the drumkit and the electric bass will occasionally make an appearance and in the following video, the electric banjo becomes something of an electric guitar.

Coachella: Mumford and Sons and Ratatat – Dave Matthews Band Caravan Chicago

18 Apr

Coachella and Mumford and SonsMumford and Sons’ Saturday set at the three-day Coachella festival that wrapped up yesterday night portrayed why they are considered one of the best new folk/indie groups to hit the scene. Well, new may be pushing it. They have been around since 2007, but have only released one album. An epic album, in every sense of its nature, but only one. I will still consider them a burgeoning talent.

I caught the encore of Mumford and Sons’ 8:30 p.m. set last night on Coachella’s live feed on Youtube. By the way, that is an awesome idea. It’s difficult to get out to festivals (especially if they are across the country), so a live Youtube feed (that doesn’t lag) is much appreciated.

The set was wonderful. Mumford and Sons’ live prowess is clear. They truck through songs with beautiful folk ease. A solid brass section was a welcome addition to the band’s already tight-knit sound. During the set, Mumford and Sons’ revealed a new song, “Lover’s Eyes,” that provides evidence of the direction the band is going in. Good news for those who enjoyed Sigh No More.

“Lover’s Eyes” is led by Marcus Mumford‘s excellent voice. The acoustic riff sounds a little like “War Was in Color” by Carbon Leaf (especially the ending hammer-on). The song follows a trademark Mumford and Sons’ pattern. That is the gradual crescendo. The soft beginning turns into a strong, hard-strummed ending with brass and harmonized “la’s.” I can see it being a mid-level hit off of the eventual new album.

Clearly, though, the best song from their set was “Little Lion Man,” which shatters folk boundaries with its greatness.

Notice at 1:10-1:15 into the song Mumford breaks a string on his acoustic. He strums his guitar incredibly hard so it is not surprising. He doesn’t stop the show or make a fuss. He plays like nothing happened. That is professional and a wonderful live characteristic. This band may be young, but they play like live veterans. Excellent show!

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Ratatat My Coachella Surprise

Let me premise this section. Okocim often talks of Ratatat. He has even shown me their music. They were not my favorite. I sort-of scoffed at his recommendation. Well, absolutely no more. A good live performance can change your opinion of any band. Ratatat’s live set on Sunday night was both musically composed and crazy. The band taps into the rich psychedelic past and pulls out elements that they include in their own music…and it is awesome.

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Dave Matthews Band’s Caravan Tour Heating Up

While we are on the subject of music festivals, I want to highlight the next venue on the Dave Matthews Band Caravan Tour. The first venue announced was Atlantic City, and the heralded list of musicians is tempting me to buy a three-day pass. The second, Chicago, will take place from July 8-10. While I live farther away from Chicago than Atlantic City (it is like an 11 hour difference), the Chicago line-up excites me more. Atlantic City does have Guster, but, as much as they are awesome, I have seen them twice. Let’s peek into the Chicago line-up.

David Gray

Ray LaMontagne

O.A.R.

Kid Cudi.

The Flaming Lips (performing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon)

Amos Lee

Michael Franti and Spearhead

Alberta Cross

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Emmylou Harris

Ben Folds

G Love and Special Sauce

Gomez

Soulive

The Wailers

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Also, some artists from Summer Camp 2011 Music Festival will be featured on a special stage on Saturday. That festival (May 27-29 in Illinois) features acts like Widespread Panic, moe, Umphrey’s Mcgee, The Avett Brothers, Girl Talk, Wiz Khalifa, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones, Punch Brothers, and Lubriphonic (who I profiled over a year ago here).

I bolded the two reasons I want to go to the Chicago show more than Atlantic City. The Ben Folds case is interesting. I have promised my girlfriend, Rebecca, that I will take her to see Ben Folds. I want to see him too, so it is a win-win. But she will be on vacation during the Chicago show, and, if I go to see Ben Folds without her, I will be killed. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is fair game and I just really want to see them. Chicago, though, is 13 hours away and it might be a little impractical to think I will be able to get out to the show.

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