Mumford & Sons, Live From South Africa: Dust and Thunder

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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Being from the Southern Appalachians, I have an affinity for old-timey sounds from America’s past. Odd that one of my favorite ways to hear music that resonates with these country flourishes is by listening to the music of an English folk rock band called Mumford & Sons.

This London group is headed up by its namesake, Marcus Mumford. His “sons” include Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, and Ted Dwane.

The boys discovered their love of American root music by listening to the Old Crow Medicine Show.

Marcus Mumford says, “I first heard Old Crow’s music when I was, like, 16, 17, and that really got me into, like, folk music, bluegrass. I mean, I’d listened to a lot of Dylan, but I hadn’t really ventured into the country world so much. So Old Crow were the band that made me fall in love with country music.”

They began with folk and bluegrass instrumentation, their core instruments being acoustic guitar, banjo, piano and a double bass.

 In 2016 Mumford & Sons toured South Africa. The band intended to do only a handful of small shows in association with Gentlemen of the Road, but there among the magnificent beauty of the Pretorian outback, they got inspired.

Next thing you know, cameras were rolling. Filmed live in front of 50,000 ecstatic fans in Pretoria, South Africa, the performance was shot in Ultra HD with surround sound.

Mumford & Sons has been premiering the resulting concert film — “Live From South Africa: Dust And Thunder” — in selected cinemas worldwide. It is showing Tuesday night at Tropic Cinema.

Director Dick Carruthers is known for his work with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Oasis (the double BAFTA nominated “There & Then”).

While in South Africa the band spent two days and nights writing and recording entirely new material with some close musical friends (Baaba Maal, Mamadou Sarr, The Very Best, and Beatenberg) Some of these songs are performed live in the film, along with music from their recent album and other the old favorites.

Band member Ted Dwane says, “This was one of the most exciting shows we played on the ‘Wilder Mind’ tour. It marks a really exciting time in the journey we have taken as band. A journey fueled by a desire to explore the world and the connection between the communities of musicians who continue to make it feel like a smaller and smaller place.”

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