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On a Friday night, one hundred miles west that Chicago, Mumford & Sons are playing a pick-up soccer video game at the regional high college in Dixon, Ill. The school, an initial opened in 1929, has some medieval-looking design that wouldn’t seem the end of ar in the band’s native England. There are a couple of kids hanging about watching the U.K.’s best export because Coldplay and also Adele have a walk at their much beloved “football.”

The reason that Mumford & Sons space in Dixon, a city of less than 20,000 civilization scattered over roughly eight square miles and also best known as the childhood home of Ronald Reagan, is because that one of 4 “Stopover” festivals the the team is law on their existing U.S. Tour, which started in at an early stage August. The various other three multi-band occasions are in tiny towns like Dixon – Portland, Maine, Bristol, Va./Tenn., and Monterey, Calif.

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Make no mistake around it: Mumford & Sons have played to audience bigger than the entire population of Dixon or Monterey. And, fairly frankly in ~ this point in their brief but mainly career, they could play shows to audience the size of Portland and also Bristol, too.

So why phase labor-intensive, one-day festivals in small towns across America when they could be offering out the country’s biggest amphitheaters and making significantly an ext money?

I knew something was afoot when I visited the tourism opener in Hoboken, N.J., i m sorry was hosted on a pier that had never been supplied for a concert before. Staring across the water at the sun setting on brand-new York City, i asked myself a rhetorical question: “How much easier would it have been to gather the sold-out crowd of 15,000 at a venue over there?”

But there the 4 of them were, circled up and also giddy together they all set to hit the stage. Drink beers and swigging whiskey out of a repurposed water bottle, they appeared as excited together they might have to be if they were play Madison Square Garden just throughout the Hudson River.

Which led me come a more comprehensive question: Why, two months before the relax of Babel, the sophomore follow-up come 2009’s multi-platinum Sigh No More, is the band doing underplays in small markets throughout the U.S. In places such together Canandaigua, N.Y., Lincoln, Neb., and also Laramie, Wyo.?

It’s in Bristol that I find answers to these and other lingering questions around a tape whose meteoric increase in popular after just one album is unlike any in current memory.

“We’re every pretty emotionally intelligent people,” claims bassist Ted Dwane the the band. “We have the right to tell as soon as you’re associated with a dickhead – and we’ve been affiliated with dickheads – and also we’ve obtained rid of them. Everyone we work with now are really an excellent guys.”

While sit at a table in a train terminal that has been converted right into a backstage area overlooking the concert grounds in downtown Bristol, we’re talking about the band’s fan-friendly tactics.

“We’re nothing without our fans,” that continues. “We owe them everything, therefore it’s in our attention – in ~ the very least – to make take some simply and worthwhile measures toward castle not acquiring ripped off.”

The ticket because that this Stopover, promoted with Knoxville, Tenn.-based AC Entertainment, is $70. The end of the tour’s 16 dates, only one of the venues uses Ticketmaster. The pan club presales space through Artist Arena. The tickets because that each Stopover room designed to resemble a passport replete v a few pages because that stamps. Free, exclusive download are available via a website that makes use of the ticket’s barcode.

Given that all 15,000 tickets offered out through zero advertising, it seems prefer the band’s strategy is working. Human being have traveled from approximately the country – also a few outside of it – to concerned the occasion which functions Dawes, Justin Townes Earle, The very Best, JEFF The Brotherhood, Apache Relay, Haim, Simon Felice, Aaron Embry and, the course, Mumford & Sons.

“It to be a totally aware decision,” claims wily-eyed banjoist Winston Marshall the the band’s unorthodox tour routing, who offered as the catalyst because that the tape members meeting earlier in 2005. “We realized that if you walk somewhere that no one comes to, everyone is walk to hear to you, reap the show and embrace you.” The Stopovers and also current U.S. Tourism aren’t the very first time the Mumford & Sons have actually stepped the end of the conventional touring crate though.

In 2008, lock participated in the “River Rat Pack” tour through seven other bands whereby they coasted under the Thames river in southern England on a canal watercraft to various ports the call. “No one came to the gigs but there were enough artists approximately that us made our own crowd,” chuckles Marcus Mumford that handles many of the command singing, guitar playing and also drumming for the band.

In 2010, they toured India – whereby they were unknown – as part of a social exchange. “It to be a an extremely humbling endure for us to play come the crowds and also work under those constraints,” keyboardist and accordionist Ben Lovett told the filmmakers that followed them.

In February 2011, castle toured the Scottish Highlands. “We figured that playing smaller shows would take us earlier to the beginning of ours touring lives again, however we didn’t really figure that there would certainly be therefore much need in areas like Orkney,” created Mumford on the band’s website after tickets sold-out quickly. “We think we’ve got to a little bit of a tricky phase where we’re torn due to the fact that we want to store playing intimate shows, but we likewise obviously would like civilization who want to see us to be able to.”

In April the year, they embarked on the an initial annual Railroad revival Tour v pals Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Old crow Medicine show that take it them from Oakland, Calif., to brand-new Orleans by train and also saw them play pop-up shows beside the depots along the way.

“When castle play a show, they carry everything to the community,” claims Daniel Glass, founder the Glassnote Records, i m sorry is house to Mumford & young in the U.S. (along with Phoenix and others). “Being below in Bristol, you see the town gets affected. It taken place on the rail tour, it happened in Hoboken, it occurred in Providence the various other night – and Dixon is preparing because that them.”

On State Street, the main drag that Bristol, which divides the town in between Virginia and Tennessee, all of the lampposts sports quaint banner announcing the event. A bulk of the stores have actually placed the Stopover’s symbol – an old-school englishman sporting a regal mustache and also top hat v antique pistols crisscrossed below him – in their home windows as a present of support and also welcome. Sandwich boards external bars beckon pan while Union Jack flags flutter in the wind like far-off cousins the the Confederate flag.

“In life, there’s to be the thankful Dead and also Dave Matthews