Editor’s Note: In April, 2011, three bands climbed aboard a pair of old train cars in Oakland, CA, and traveled the rails across the American Southwest to New Orleans, LA, stopping in six cities just long enough to unload, play, and pack up for the next leg of the trip. “The Railroad Revival Tour” took Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons, and Old Crow Medicine Show on a diesel-driven rock-fest, with more than a touch of Southern charm and hometown Americana.
RedFence could not pass up a creative adventure like that. Photographer J. Regan Hutson dashed off to capture the show at their nearest stop — in San Pedro, CA. And now RF Senior Writer James Roland’s offers this three-part introduction to the intrepid rail-reviving bands.
Steel-Riding Melody, Part Two
Mumford & Sons
“And if your strife strikes at your sleep, remember spring swaps snow for leaves.
You’ll be happy and wholesome again, when the city clears and sun ascends.”
Mumford & Sons are sort of a big, happy musical accident. Many consider them the front runner of London’s “West End folk scene” but the band’s frontman, Marcus Mumford, insists such a scene never truly existed except as a label coined to help sell records.
The quartet formed through a collision of creative lives; the four men lived in close proximity and happened to share a love for similar music and lyrics. Even the band’s signature style of vintage clothing was a happy stroke of luck: it’s simply how all four of them naturally dressed.
Premeditated or not, the resulting music is poignant, powerful, and almost impossible to classify. While it borrows heavily from folk, country, bluegrass, indie, and emo, the final product sounds nothing like any of those styles.
By using guitar where some would use percussion, and focusing heavily on the beauty and message of their lyrics, Mumford & Sons move in uncharted pop territory. But unlike such groundbreakers as, say, Neutral Milk Hotel, Mumford & Sons managed to catch the powerful wave of popular culture and ride it to the top of the charts. They may share air time with the likes of Taylor Swift and Michael Buble, but Mumford inhabit a quality category all their own — as one of the few popular artists deserving of all the praise.
Part One – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Part Three – Old Crow Medicine Show
The Railroad Revival Tour is the subject of a documentary film, set to premier this month. And the tour itself has scheduled a return this year with an all new lineup. Make sure to check their website for updates.