Mumford & Sons team up with country legend Emmylou Harris


Veteran country music star Emmylou Harris is teaming up with London folk band Mumford & Sons to explore their shared love of high harmony, sad songs and the oft-belittled banjo on a US TV show.

Harris, 65, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and platinum-selling Mumford & Sons, who have sparked a folk rock resurgence, are joining together on an episode of CMT Crossroads tonight.

The show brings together classic and contemporary artists to play new versions of their best-known hits.

"They're making the banjo respectable, which is not an easy feat, and I'm so glad it's finally happening," Harris joked.

Nashville, Tennessee-based Harris had only briefly met lead singer Marcus Mumford before agreeing to do the show based on the waves they created in the music world.

They co-ordinated song choices by phone and got together to rehearse for a little more than a day before recording the show earlier this month.

It was a crash course in catalogue consumption and the chance to get to know each other.

"They're great harmony (singers) and they've got this great driving groove with a minimalist instrumentation," Harris said. "But they just sound good and the songs have beautiful melodies and I love harmonising on them."

She said it proves her theory that music is going to keep reinventing itself in good ways.

"You don't have to repeat the past. We learn from the past, but we have to come forward with something different and there are just so many different combinations to make good music that touches people," she said.

Harris was among the gateway artists who helped Mumford and bandmates Ben Lovett, Ted Dwane and Winston Marshall discover their love for American roots music, starting with the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

Harris appeared with Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss on the memorable song Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby. That eventually led them to the Old Crow Medicine Show and then deep immersion in old-time sounds from America's long-neglected past.

They ran across Harris' imprint many times along the way, and with the help of dobro master Jerry Douglas, they help explore that legacy on the show.

"Pretty much every song that Emmylou has sung on is my favourite song of whichever artist she sang with," Mumford said. "I'm like an obsessive Emmylou Harris freak and I'm not ashamed."

In turn, the quartet has helped shine a light on the influence Harris and the extensive roots underground still exerts. The band, who release their new album, Babel, this week, were a growing success story in that community when they appeared on the 2011 Grammy Awards with Bob Dylan and the Avett Brothers, launching Mumford & Sons into the national popular consciousness.

Their album Sigh No More is now double platinum and Babel is one of the year's most anticipated albums.

"For us, it's kind of a bit of a dream come true," Dwane said. "We'd never thought we'd get to travel so extensively, meet our heroes and collaborate with so many people. ... We're just having a really nice time."

Like the band, fans have discovered something new in those old sounds. Mumford & Sons routinely drew 10,000 and more fans on their Gentleman of the Road tour across the US this summer, almost all of them dancing along to Marshall's banjo.

"Folk music has always been there, but it's wonderful to see the infusion of freshness and energy, but still having that passion," Harris said.

"Not just mimicking what went before, but infusing it. I was joking about the banjo, but I'm serious."


Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before