Review Mumford and Sons Big Easy Express

Mumford and Sons star in train and concert film releasing on June 26th on iTunes, July 24th on Blu-Ray

Mumford and Sons performing with the Austin High School Marching Band in Big Easy Express  (photo stills copyright S2BN Holdings)

If you were lucky enough to attend SXSW this year you could have seen Mumford and Sons starring in premiere screening of ”Big Easy Express” by director Emmett Malloy.

I just finished watching the 97 minute film in a preview and I did not want the movie to end. It felt like I had been with the bands on the trip, and in the audience. “Big Easy Express” left me with that mixed emotion of joy and nostalgia all at once.

You can pick up the DVD Big Easy Express, the first film about one of the hottest bands in the world on DVD on July 24th, 2012. Pre-release orders of Big Easy Express from Amazon.com received a $2 discount. Or download from iTunes on June 26th.

Three bands on a road trip

This is a film about three bands who are re-interpreting American folk music as indie-alt-folk-rock in a fresh way: Mumford and Sons, The Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Big East Express, jamming on the train (photo stills copyright S2BN Holdings)

The story of Mumford and Sons is a new version of The Beatles and 1960s British Invasion.

In the early 1960s from across the Atlantic came the British version of American R&B and we ate it up. The Beatles changed rock and roll to its roots with their new approach.

Mumford & Sons are a British folk group who stormed North America at the 2011 Grammy Awards when they performed at break neck speed with Bob Dylan, one of the God’s of folk music, and The Avett Brothers, an American country band.

Bob Dylan and Mumford and Sons at Grammys

‘Big Easy Express’ is the quintessential American train ride out west, a 97 minute train song. Riding a train from the Oakland, California on the West Coast to New Orleans, Louisiana, the bands jam on the train cars, by themselves and together jams. They exhibit tremendous sense of musical camaraderie and sharing.

Along the way they stop, giving concerts for adoring throngs of young people along the train tracks. Is this the folk boom revisited?

Mumford and Sons with Austin High School Marching Band (photo stills copyright S2BN Holdings)

It is a joy to hear so many banjos, fiddles and acoustic guitars being played. In the middle of one shot they break out into “Botany Bay.” No one sings ‘Botany Bay’ anymore except Dylan in 1992 and they laughed at him.

The music is a revved up roots and Americana show that appeals especially to young audiences and an old folkie like myself. Of course there are lots of train songs like “This Train is Bound for Glory” and salutes to Woody Guthrie.

While the movie could easily have been dominated by the super popular Mumford and Sons, all the musicians get time in front of the camera. Mumford and Sons don’t try to act like stars which is refreshing.

The Concerts

At San Pedro California, Mumford and Sons perform “Sigh No More” with the fresh emotion, as if it were the first time. It is just one of many stellar performances.

Mumford and Son – Little Lion Man (photo stills copyright S2BN Holdings)

At Tempe Arizona, the rapt audience beside the train tracks is treated to the Mumford and Sons big hit ‘Little Lion Man’. The band is high energy and full of good humor. They give it a spirited and flawless performance that bests the official video.

‘Big Easy Express’ holds your interest with stunning visuals of the American Southwest mountains and deserts and close ups of the musicians. The commentary from the musicians is brief but interesting. Mostly we are treated to great music.

Old Crow Medicine Show, Rock Me Mama (photo stills copyright S2BN Holdings)

The fourth stop is Marfa Texas where Old Crow Medicine Show performs in a grove of trees to the audience. “Rock me momma like a south bound train” they sing out.

There is an obligatory run-in with red neck troopers who call them ‘hippies”. That comment seemed less than an astute assessment since hippies passed off the scene decades ago. Sheriff, these are just young people.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home (photo stills copyright S2BN Holdings)

At the Austin Texas track-side concert, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros perform “Home” against a backdrop of smokestacks. The audience was enthralled with the 9 or 10 member indie-folk group. It felt like 1967 and we were back at a love-in.

Mumford and Sons played “The Cave” with the backing of the Austin High School Marching Band – now that was total energy – practicing into a megaphone to stay on top of the school band. The concert performance tops anything I have seen for excitement on “The Cave.”

By the time the bands hit New Orleans, they are totally excited and so is the crowd. With everyone on stage they break out into “This Train is Bound for Glory”. “This train is bound for glory” they sing and dance, straight out of a traveling minstrel show.

The concerts along the way would have been unique and special events in the lives of the people who saw them. The “Big Easy Express” captures the music, the excitement and the emotion for the rest of us.

There may be a few factual errors in this review. I only saw the film once and it was hard to watch and then take notes. Help me out if you spot something wrong.

Suffice it to say, this movie is one to own.

You can pre-order or purchase “Big Easy Express” from iTunes or Amazon.com. I think ‘Big Easy Express’ would be awesome on a HD TV with a good sound system, at least I am hoping.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

 

DVD BluRay  
DVD BluRay  
Includes 24min of extra footage.
Related Articles

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


Confirm you are not a spammer! *