God, Beer & Banjos: Mumford & Sons Take America

Page 2 of 4

An open-container fine successfully averted, the band decides to head over to a nearby home for something called a "picking party." This is the thing to do at Telluride – some generous fan will stock up on booze and throw open his doors for a well-lubricated, all-night jamboree. Tonight, the party is at some guy named Ed's house – assuming they can find it.

Marshall is supposed to be leading the way, but as the rest of the guys follow him through three right turns, it becomes apparent that he's a bit lost. (The band's hold on U.S. geography is still tenuous – when someone mentions Nashville, Dwane says, "That's pretty close to here, right?")

Tromping through the deserted streets, their outfits reflect varying degrees of old-timey-ness. Mumford is the dapper throwback, impeccably dressed in a brown vest and matching wool tie. He also looks oddly like quarterback Tim Tebow, and once you see this fact you cannot unsee it. Dwane, 26, is a touch more modern, with a rock-star-snug leather jacket and scuffed designer boots. Lovett is the pinup of the group, favoring loose tank tops and stubble and looking like the American Apparel version of an Appalachian hillbilly. And Marshall, 24, looks like the Appalachian hillbilly version of an Appalachian hillbilly, in shitkicker boots and a ratty semi-mohawk that he appears to have given himself with a whittling knife.

After navigating through some back alleys and around a beaver pond, eventually the band arrives at a lavish three-story ski chalet, where everything inside smells like wood and money. At this point it's revealed that Ed is not just any Ed, but Ed Helms, the ridiculously nice star of The Hangover and The Office, and also, it turns out, a huge bluegrass fan. "Hey, guys!" he says, welcoming everyone inside with handshakes and hugs. "Thanks for coming!"

Mumford & Sons Behind the Scenes

The party is already in full swing, with about two dozen people hanging out in the living room, including an inordinately large number of guests named "Critter." There's a big upright bass, a couple of guitars, a few fiddles, and lots of singing and hand-clapping and foot-stomping. Helms also has his ax, a gleaming white banjo that he and Marshall take turns strumming. Bottles of whiskey get passed and re-passed, and the fridge is so continuously filled with beer that it seems like a glitch in the matrix.

Out on the patio for a cigarette, Marshall – who's affectionately called "Winnie" – is smitten: "This festival is so goddamn vibey!" As he watches his bandmates jam through the glass door, they're all so stoked and unjaded that it's basically impossible not to fall under the spell. At one point, the banjo player Bela Fleck steps outside, and Marshall is star-struck. "That was the best banjo player in the world," he whispers once he's gone. (Sometimes the bandmates' reverence can get pretty serious: A few hours earlier, they were watching some friends from London perform at a high school auditorium when Mumford turned to a chatty woman in the audience and shushed her, librarian-style.)

But they also know how to party. By 3 a.m., revelers are starting to trickle out, but the Mumfords are still going strong. Helms, conscientious about the cigarette smoke and the noise, has spent much of the evening sliding the patio door shut, very much The Hangover's Stu. At one point, he goes upstairs and returns to find a lamp knocked over and broken. "Oh, boy," he says, biting his tongue. Mumford, clutching an armful of beer bottles, starts harmonizing with Marshall on a song he wrote, and a girl in cowboy boots hops up on the coffee table and begins stomping along. "Easy!" Helms says, laughing. "It's a rental!"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »