Mumford & Sons is one of those acts that give many folks in the bluegrass community heartburn. The four piece British band is clearly not a bluegrass act, though they use banjo, mandolin and resonator guitar in their show, and cite traditional Appalachian old time, country and bluegrass music as primary influences. Defying easy classification, you might fairly describe their sound as an alt-rock vibe, with some folk and post-punk sensibilities. How’s that for vague?
They have become an international sensation, attracting huge crowds of primarily young fans wherever they tour, including not a few who would describe themselves as followers of bluegrass.
The video includes interviews with the band members, who express a profound respect and admiration for the communities of Bristol (Tennessee and Virginia), and the impact the towns’ history has had on the development of American music.
It’s a great story of Southern hospitality, cross-cultural interaction, and how a major touring act views the musical and social heritage of the region.
Not to mention what a major concert in a smaller community means for tourism and the local economy.
An interesting side story to the Mumford & Son’s Bristol visit involves a custom guitar built by Gerald Anderson to be presented to the band. Marcus Mumford’s reaction to receiving the hand crafted instrument in the video below indicates that he isn’t necessarily the rowdy he plays on stage.
All in all, it looks like it was a win-win for everyone.