String Bands That Are Better Than Mumford & Sons
I actually come from the camp that believes that if Mumford & Sons weren’t so popular, more core roots fans would respect them. But it is really hip to hate and undervalue Mumford right now. Let’s hope that the current backlash doesn’t hurt every band with a banjo, because there’s many great string bands out there that and mix high energy and heartfelt songs into the string band concept.
Read: The Music That Paved The Way For Mumford & Sons
Devil Makes Three
The West Coast’s preeminent string band for years that has garnered a massive underground following, Devil Makes Three is finally getting the recognition and large crowds their music has deserved since they started in 2002. The trio was one of the first to bring a punk attitude to string band music, and with a new Buddy Miller-produced album coming out soon, they only promise to find more fans.
The Dirty River Boys
If you’re looking for a Mumford-like alternative from the Texas music scene, The Dirty River Boys from El Paso have the high-energy, heartfelt songwriting thing covered and then some. Like so many successful Texas bands, they’re able to balance substance with sensibility to bring real music to a wider audience.
Larry & His Flask
One of the most dynamic, off-the-wall live acts you can see, Larry & His Flask launched themselves into the wider consciousness when traveling on the Warped Tour in 2011, and continue to leave fans gasping for breath from the sheer madness they evoke on stage. If energy and showmanship is what you’re looking for from your string band, look no further than Larry & His Flask.
.357 String Band
They’re no longer officially around, and they’re still better than Mumford & Sons. The .357 String Band broke up in late 2011, but they left behind a legacy of some of the most full-tilt string band music you will find. They were the pinnacle of speed, skill, and songwriting in string band music.
Split Lip Rayfield
Never given enough credit and regularly overlooked, Wichita’s Split Lip Rayfield was one of the very first bands to infuse string band music with punk. Formed in 1995 and releasing their first album with Bloodshot Records in 1998, the band has seen a decline in output and touring over the last few years after the death of founding member and guitarist Kirk Rundstrum, but remain one of the biggest treasure troves of high octane string band music.
Old Crow Medicine Show
If there is a legacy band in the throwback old-time string band concept, it is these guys. Just invited to become Grand Ole Opry members and now with a #1 song to their name in the form of Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” cover, Mumford & Sons could and burn like a fad, but Old Crow Medicine Show is here to stay.
Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band
Founding .357 String Band member Jayke Orvis has taken his solo project into hyper drive lately, and has himself one of the most well-orchestrated string bands pushing well-written material. Like many underground roots bands, Jayke Orvis suffers from a lack of outside recognition, but their talent rivals any other string band at the moment.
The Hackensaw Boys
Given credit as one of the very first bands of the current string band revolution, Hackensaw Boys member David Sickmen and former member Rob Bullington had a band called the Route 11 Boys with Ketch Secor and Chris “Critter” Fuqua who would later go on to found Old Crow Medicine Show. Hackensaw Boys have been sort of a proving ground for musicians, including Tom Peloso who went on to join indie rock group Modest Mouse. Most of the string bands you speak to will list The Hackensaw Boys as a big influence.
The Avett Brothers
Since they ostensibly are one of the primary influences of Mumford & Sons and their original concept can be seen all throughout Mumford’s approach, it’s only appropriate that The Avett Brothers are included here. The Avett’s were one of the very first bands to evolutionize string music and give it a shot of punk energy, and to bring it to an audience outside of the traditionally-defined roots world.
The Foghorn Stringband
One of the most traditionalist-style string band’s in the recent uprising, but one who proves that style and craftsmanship can outlast speed or over-sentimentality in songwriting when the music is done right.
Trampled by Turtles
Another band that has seen big success from the rise in popularity of string music, and just sits below the big boys like The Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show in draw. Trampled by Turtles can pick as fast as anyone, but tend to favor the songwriting aspect more in their most recent album.
More String Bands Better Than Mumford & Sons: Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Calamity Cubes!, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Tillers, Carolina Still, The Pine Hill Haints, The Dinosaur Truckers, Gators in the Sawgrass, Chatam County Line, The Gourds, The Pawn Shop Saints, and…
August 19, 2013 @ 12:34 pm
Hell yes. Bout time someone addressed this fact.
August 19, 2013 @ 12:43 pm
I disagree strongly. Music isn’t about all the nailed notes or perhaps a super hip sound, Music is about communicating feeling. Trampled by Turtles is crazy good, but doesn’t communicate feeling. at all. The Avett Brothers have horrible voices(which is why they aren’t bigger than they already are) and Old Crow is wonderful, but again lacks a luster of refinement. The rest I don’t even feel the need to address. Maybe to bluegrass fans, this article would be appropriate, but to the general populace, you can’t expect them to be cultured the same as you are, and in a general sense of musical effectiveness this is a crock of shit. But the record sales, and music executives have already made that clear. Mumford and sons isn’t really a string band, they are a pop rock band.
August 19, 2013 @ 1:04 pm
Maybe to bluegrass fans, this article would be appropriate, but to the general populace, you can”™t expect them to be cultured the same as you are…
I picked the bands here based on what I believe to be a void between accessibility and appeal, and knowledge amongst the masses. I could have made a similar list and started with the smallest-drawing band and gone down from there, and the quality would have been the same, but the accessibility may have not been. You can say that a band like Trampled by Turtles does not communicate feeling, but that is your opinion. I am simply trying to give folks some alternatives, and to broaden perspectives. The video I posted of Trampled By Turtles has over 3 million hits, so they must be connecting with the general populace to some degree.
August 20, 2013 @ 4:40 pm
Fun little article about TbT came out today in the San Francisco Examiner…
Best quote from the article … “I bought my first bluegrass record after this band started, because I was like, ”˜Whoa! I need to figure out what to do here!”™”
Just a bunch of guys from Duluth having fun.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:05 pm
“The rest I don”™t even feel the need to address.”
Why don’t you just admit you’ve never listened to them?
March 29, 2015 @ 9:27 pm
You must like the smokers then. Mumfords and uncles cannot harmonize as well as the Avett brothers. Avetts banjo (and their music in general) is more technical like it is in bluegrass. & sons is just strumming chords in every song and I feel like a shotgun blast to the face is the only way to get them stop stop playing.
August 19, 2013 @ 12:43 pm
Nice piece, Trigger. Well said.
August 19, 2013 @ 12:47 pm
and honestly, Mumford and sons can be credited with a lot of bluegrass’s popularity in young people. Don;t be smug, they helped this genre a lot.
August 19, 2013 @ 2:03 pm
The only thing Mumford & Sons did was help legions of hipsters looking for the next big thing to get a banjo, dress in depression era garb, and play watered down “roots” music. They are phonies and are simply riding their wave of popularity until something else comes along. They won’t be remembered in the next 10 years, but bands who write timeless music will be.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:12 pm
They’ve done nothing for bluegrass or bringing bluegrass to the masses. Kevin said it well, it initially appealed to the hipsters, who are now over it. The bluegrass world makes fun of them. So it’s just passing-by-in-a-moment pop junk. Sorry for Jerry Douglass. He go paid.
I would throw a few of these bands listed in there as well, but Trigger has done a decent job of representation. These bands just have not “made” it yet. We’ll see who sticks around.
I find it interesting that Old Crow just made the Opry when Jimmy Martin did not. But, that’s another thread.
Honest Charlie's Productions
August 21, 2013 @ 7:18 am
Regarding the Jimmy Martin comment I see what you’re saying. But you could say that about so many other worthy musicians. I am not sure how one would put Jimmy Martin and OCMS in the same realm for comparison. Yes OCMS may have a banjo player but they are not bluegrass.
Bigfoot is Real (but I have my doubts about you)
August 20, 2013 @ 1:20 pm
Better? How are any of these bands better than the others? I have played shows with some of the bands listed in Triggers article as “better” and can tell you first hand they are all great players but not better. My personal tastes tend more toward the Jayke Orvis\ Devil Makes Three\ Foghorn Stringband end of the stringband spectrum and far, far, far away from Mumford and Sons, Trampled by Turtles, and Avett Brothers but that in no way, shape, or form makes the bands I like better.
Just want to throw out The Harmed Brothers as another fine stringband. Saw them this past weekend and they killed. Their banjo player Alex Salcido sat in during Tom VandenAvond’s set and was golden.
August 20, 2013 @ 7:42 pm
Nice post, and thanks for the recommendation on Harmed Brothers. Checked it out and definitely buying it. Also picking up Foghorn Stringband. Say what you will, but voice is important…..and Split Lip doesn’t do it for me.
I’m not sure why people feel the need to trash Mumford just because there’s better stuff out there. Don’t kid yourself, if any of these bands had Mumford’s success, their sound would change (they’d become more “accessible”) and you’d hate them too.
I believe Trigger has addressed this, but we all LOVE our favorite bands, yet we want them to remain “small time,” struggling to get by. We don’t come out and say it, but the second some dork hipster who brings his typewriter to the local coffee shop starts talking about them, we abandon ship.
Avett Brothers were the first roots band I really liked, and I’m glad they’re seeing success. We should all take their attitude, Mumford and Sons are making more people listen to roots/bluegrass music, and that’s a good thing.
TX Music Jim
August 19, 2013 @ 1:50 pm
Having enjoyed a recent Dirty River Boys gig for the first time. I gotta tell you I haven’t been that blown away by a act like that in a long time. I’ve always loved OCMS and happy for the opry induction. I’m not a big mumford and sons fan frankly I think they are a little to polished for me. Mumford and sons to me is less of a “string Band” and more of a folk rock pop band with bluegrass influences.
August 19, 2013 @ 2:23 pm
you forgot the Carolina chocolate drops.
you’re right about mumfords popularity being a factor in my dislike of them but I just cant help it they remind me too much of the corrs.
August 19, 2013 @ 4:05 pm
I appreciate and encourage people to leave names of other string bands they enjoy listening to here. That is the whole reason for a post like this is to share cool music. I think the Carolina Chocolate drops are another good example of a Mumford & Sons alternative. But I did not forget or omit any particular band. The point here was to put together a list of bands for people who want to look beyond Mumford & Sons for some cool bands in the string band world, that will not overwhelm or intimidate them, but give them some reasonable alternatives.
August 19, 2013 @ 7:56 pm
I saw Carolina Chocolate Drops at Grey Fox this year, I thought they were fantastic. Excellent musicians, and I thought it was very cool how they showed off the roots of bluegrass and american folk, and how the banjo came to be popularised.
Unfortunately they’ve somehow managed to make a”laundry list country” bluegrass song, to throw in the faces of all those who say “They ain’t truly country ’cause theys colored,” which god knows I heard a few times in that crowd.
August 19, 2013 @ 8:52 pm
are you referring to “country girl” ? I guess it could be called a laundry list song but I really love it.
August 19, 2013 @ 8:56 pm
That’s the one. It is a pretty good song, but damn is it the definition of a laundry list song.
August 19, 2013 @ 9:20 pm
““Country Girl,”one of the songs on the album where beat boxing is featured, might be controversial if you were looking for the Chocolate Drop”™s answer to the country checklist song. But I don”™t believe this is on purpose, it”™s more an unintended consequence of an excellent song being unfairly typecast by a current hyper trend.”
August 20, 2013 @ 8:05 am
I agree. I think it’s evidence that you can make a good “laundry list song” provided that you expand your sights beyond your truck, dirt roads, and cold beer.
August 20, 2013 @ 10:08 am
How is writing about Sweet Potato Pie, biscuits, Georgia peaches, fried chicken, cornbread, and rhyming ”˜south” with “shut your mouth” more original than singing bout beer and pick up trucks?
By the way, look at the bio of the band members, http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com/band
Rhiannon Giddens is from Greensborro, NC and went to school at Oberlin,
Don Flemon is from Phoenix, AZ and
Hubby Jenkins is from New york City
If a bunch of whites with that background wrote a song like country girl, everyone would accuse them of being frauds.
I think the carolina chocolate drops are pretty good, but not that great. And I suspect that, contra the idea that they need to sing about laundry list themes to counter the racists who won’t accept them, a good chunk of their fans are typical liberal Americana NPR types who like them more because they are black.
August 20, 2013 @ 11:25 am
Rhiannon Giddens was born in the south and she wrote the song so I don’t see any fraud there.
I do see your point about the rest though and their costumes do come off as hipsterish wanabe. it all comes down to whether or not you like the music (i do) and whether or not you feel their love of old time string band music is genuine or a pose (genuine). i don’t dislike mumford because they are brits playing American roots or because of their costumes i just don’t like their slick interpretation of American roots music its no different than what the corrs did with celtic music in the 90s. Dylan is a middle class jewish boy with a persona faker than the Jonas brothers but he can sing the blues.
August 20, 2013 @ 11:38 am
I think the genius of the song is that their “NPR” or “World music” fans probably expect them to take the stand that they are Country and Southern, but don’t celebrate the culture of the South. This song says the opposite. It is very subversive in ways few expect or appreciate.
August 20, 2013 @ 5:14 pm
The song is called “Country girl” not “southern girl.” Greensboro is not the country. And while there are plenty of laundry list items about Southern food, the song has just as much stuff about rural life– “I was raised in the country that’s a natural fact/ Food on the table from the garden out back/ Everyone working to make the land their own/ Red clay crackin’ where the silver queen grows…I was born in the country that’s a natural fact /On these long city days I wanta look back/ See tobacco fields a row after row /Red clay a crackin’ where the silver queen grows”
commenters here go after Jason Aldean for his fake “Dirt Road” songs when he grew up in Macon, GA; which is much smaller and less developed than Greensboro. Now, of course, CCD is much better than Aldean, but my point remains…
I don’t think singing about cornbread and fried chicken is subversive to the NPR crowd. They don’t have a problem with Southern Culture in terms of music or food. They have a problem with the Confederate flag, opposition to gay marriage, guns, and 85% of whites in MS and AL voting republican. CCD does not challenge any of this, they sing at Occupy Wall Street http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh36PkhmN4U and wrote a song in favor of gay marriage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-4qt_JU3Q0
Anyway, \I’m not suggesting that someone needs to fly the Confederate Flag and vote Republican to be “authentically” Southern, but there is nothing subversive about a black woman playing the banjo and singing against an anti-gay-marriage initiative. rather, it’s NPR’s dream come true.
August 20, 2013 @ 7:02 pm
“commenters here go after Jason Aldean for his fake “Dirt Road” songs when he grew up in Macon, GA; which is much smaller and less developed than Greensboro. Now, of course, CCD is much better than Aldean, but my point remains”¦”
Jason Aldean is a shallow pop star singing someone else’s formulaic pop country songs. Rhiannon Giddens is a committed roots music artist who, in the case of Country Girl, is singing words that she wrote. As far as her inspiration for the lyrics (you seem to imply that she’s posing because she is “from Greensboro”) you can check out the video link below at about the 1:10 mark. It sounds like she may have spent a fair amount of time in the country at both of her grandparents (she had both white and black grandparents) houses.
August 20, 2013 @ 7:55 pm
It’s fitting that the interview is on PBS, but anyway, I don’t know where Jason Aldean’s grandparents are from, but saying that you spent time at your grandparents house in the Country, by most people’s definitions would not make you a “country girl.”
Justin Moore is from a small town and wrote Small Town USA by himself. I acknoweldged that Carolina Chocolate Drops make good music, and I agree with bluedemon that at the end of the day, that’s my top concern.
However, my point is more with the “authenticity” obsessed roots community is holding a double standard for them.
August 20, 2013 @ 8:30 pm
Mike, I will give you that NPR unfairly overvalues the Carolina Chocolate Drops because it fits into their perspective of “diversity.” I wrote an article about this very thing 3 years ago:
But I’m not sure you’re doing your argument any favors by challenging their authenticity.
August 21, 2013 @ 5:44 am
“It”™s fitting that the interview is on PBS, but anyway,…”
You realize that by trying to diminish the importance of a piece because it is associated with a media outlet not favored by conservatives, you run the risk of being labeled a “typical right wing reactionary type.” And yes, that is a reference to your use of that shopworn phrase “typical liberal Amercana NPR types”, which I am just tired of.
“I acknoweldged that Carolina Chocolate Drops make good music”
I think you somewhat, maybe intentionally, damn them with faint praise when you bring Jason Aldean (and now Justin Moore) into the discussion, but then say that but of course, they’re much better than him, as if that needed to be pointed out.You have said that you think that CCD is pretty good, but not great. That’s fine. Your opinion. I do wonder, though, how much your negative feeling towards those “NPR Types” factors into that opinion.
You have no idea how much time Rhiannon Giddens spent in the country (summers, maybe?) or why she might identify strongly with country life. But you seem to presume that her feelings are superficial and that she’s “striking a pose”, if you will. And I suspect that is because that presumption fits in nicely with your political and cultural views. I base that suspicion on your commentary here and on other threads on this site.
August 21, 2013 @ 9:26 am
I brought up Justin Moore and Jason Aldean of examples of artists who get lambasted for being inauthentic when discussing small town life, when I think objectively speaking, as Aldean and Moore have just as much of a claim to being authentically country in their backgrounds than Rhiannon Giddens. My point was simply that no one would given them a pass.
I said the Carolina Chocolate Drops were better musically not to damn them with faint praise, as I my issues not with their Music; and so I didn’t want my comments to be misinterpreted as such. I really don’t have any problem with the band in anyway. I just get a little annoyed when their fans pretend the band is the most authentic roots band in the world, when they clearly have a schtick.
Finally, as for the political aspect. I brought up PBS, because I had just made the argument that they were a NPR producers dream, and so it was serendipitous that you linked to a PBS video. That’s all.
Yes I’m conservative, but that doesn’t keep me from loving Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson and hating Darryl Worley and Hank Jr.’s last album.
August 21, 2013 @ 12:39 pm
Fair enough, Mike. I’ll just say that one reason I’m more likely to give CCD and artists like Gillian Welch the benefit of the doubt is that I think that first and foremost, they’re committed to the music. Aldean and Moore? Let’s just say less so. And I won’t disagree with you about the schtick element with the CCD. . However, after seeing them a few times and hearing Dom Flemons harange the crowd, urging them to check out old field records at the Library of Congress (I live in Northern Virginia in the DC area) and learn about “our very own traditional American folk music,” I think they do live and breathe this stuff. But I will also say that because of what I suspected might be schtick, I stayed away from buying their albums after first hearing about them in the old No Depression magazine in 2007/2008 or so and then a good several months after Genuine Negro Jig came out in 2010. I finally bought the CD after so many bloggers on the ND web site had it among their favorites for 2010. Then, I played it more than I typically do for a new album (I tend to buy albums faster than I can get to know them) because my then four year old daughter loved it. I realized that they really do scratch my old time country and blues itch. It annoys me a little when some people call them bluegrass, though. They’re not bluegrass. Bluegrass friendly, maybe.
August 19, 2013 @ 2:37 pm
M. and Sons have a relatively unique sound, but I think theirs is a case where sound overtakes substance.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:02 pm
Mumford & Sons are, in my opinion, the Nickelback of neo-folk………..and not because of their popularity so much as that they pander to the lowest common denominator.
Lyrically, their songs lazily selectively borrow from Shakespeare, Steinbeck and others and diminish their wit and subtlety in favor of overarching platitudes and banality. Musically, it may be a couple of pegs above the ubiquity of token banjos on corporate country radio, but it’s all formula and schlock to a tee and just as inauthentic as much of what Nashville trots out.
You can squeeze more wholesome emotion out of a turnip than out of virtually any Mumford & Sons song. Many of the acts you’ve listed above are those I truly enjoy and are far more authentic than either of the two studio albums Mumford & Sons have landed.
August 19, 2013 @ 4:59 pm
I’ve described them as the Live (the alt rock band from York, PA) of folk. Once you get past the dramatic dynamics, there just isn’t much substance.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:12 pm
One omission is Yonder Mountain String Band. Their constant touring, and exceptional studio releases have drawn many younger patrons into the world of string bands. To a lesser extent, Railroad Earth could also be credited.
August 20, 2013 @ 1:45 am
Again, there’s no omissions. This isn’t meant to be a complete list of every single string band, but a chance to feature some important ones and stimulate a discussion so we can all discover some new ones, including myself. I’ve also started an additional list at the bottom of the post of some more string bands people have suggested here.
August 20, 2013 @ 5:19 am
Great site, BTW. I surfed in off of google yesterday, read a bunch of articles and decided I like your attitude. My earlier reply (YMSB+RRE=Omission) is partly a response to this article and partly influenced by Avett Brothers Helped Spark Roots Revival with “Emotionalism”. If you had titled the article”Country Bands that are better than Mumford” I would have agreed with leaving Yonder off of the list, and suggested that TbT probably shouldn’t be on it either.
I come in from the bluegrass corner, rather than the country corner, where we both love picking, and both love the backyard down to earth attitude. I guess the difference comes down to the presence of electric guitar. My personal taste tends toward flat-pickers, and finger-pickers rather than strummers or electric guitar.
I don’t have strong feelings about Mumford. I heard it and immediately dismissed it as “Product”. Slick packaging, pop hooks, and catchy choruses. I’d rather hear DM3 throw it down, or even Todd Snider ramble on about one of his stories (Did he cross the radar here? Not really a country guy, but an enjoyable listen just the same).
Any way, great site. Thanks for turning me on to Dinosaur Truckers and .357 String Band. Neither one gets any attention in the bluegrass community, but I like their spirit.
I think I’ll sit and stay here a while.
August 20, 2013 @ 8:51 am
I’m glad you found the site Karl.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:31 pm
My thoughts exactly. Couldn’t have said it any better. The Nickelback of neo-folk.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:41 pm
Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil.
They may not quite fit the mold, but they’re close enough for me.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:47 pm
Pert Near Sandstone
The Black Twig Pickers
…love The Foghorn Stringband.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:59 pm
That performance by The Foghorn Stringband made me want to go grab a mason jar full of moonshine and I don’t even drink! (lol) Good stuff.
August 19, 2013 @ 3:59 pm
Amen to Dirty River Boys and Trampled by Turtles.
August 19, 2013 @ 4:06 pm
Sorry, I like Mumford and Sons. I don’t care how famous they are. They’re talented, humble, and deserving of fame. Not to say that some of these others aren’t, but i’m not going to trash Mumford and Sons
August 19, 2013 @ 4:18 pm
And I think that is a perfectly reasonable opinion, and you shouldn’t let anyone else’s opinion keep you from enjoying music that speaks to you. As I said above, I personally think some of the Mumford hate is overblown, but I do think all the bands in this post are better.
August 19, 2013 @ 4:23 pm
did not listen to them all yet but
split lip rayfield. man is that a good band.
Can I throw in ole Danny Barnes?
November 22, 2013 @ 12:36 pm
Danny Barnes is incredible. Can Mumford’s voice sound anymore like Dave Matthews?
August 19, 2013 @ 5:26 pm
Shameless self promotion…Pawn Shop Saints…..
August 19, 2013 @ 5:53 pm
The problem with musicians today is the same problem with chefs today.Most of them haven’t spent enough time in jail or haven’t had a shovel or a pick axe in there hand and it comes out in there music and food.
August 19, 2013 @ 6:12 pm
Any opinions on Chatham County Line?
August 19, 2013 @ 6:31 pm
Yeah, the hate for Mumford is a little excessive. Personally they aren’t really my thing but there is much worse on the radio these days. Also a fan of mumford has a pretty good chance to click on this article and check out some of these bands and enjoy what they hear. So, isn’t that really the point of an article like this? To give the casual listener who enjoys Mumford some more options to listen to?
Anyways, a couple more bands I’ve been liking are Carolina Still and The Dinosaur Truckers.
August 20, 2013 @ 1:47 am
The Dinosaur Truckers are one of the premier string bands out there right now in my opinion. I didn’t include them here simply because I’ve been pushing them so hard lately, I figured give some other folks a turn. But they certainly qualify as better than Mumford.
August 19, 2013 @ 6:43 pm
GREENSKY BLUEGRASS…….. That’s all I got to say about that
August 19, 2013 @ 6:46 pm
Was just going to mention Chatam County Line. Personally a favorite. Also really dig the Stray Birds.
August 19, 2013 @ 6:49 pm
IMO The Fox Hunt (R.I.P.) were the best by far.
August 20, 2013 @ 2:42 pm
Two members of Fox Hunt are now in The Hackensaw Boys which are mentioned in the article. Big fan if both bands!
August 21, 2013 @ 12:23 pm
By chance…did you once record ‘Black Roses’ with the Fox Hunt? Your name has me wondering.
August 29, 2013 @ 11:43 pm
August 20, 2013 @ 3:39 pm
Whatever did happen to Fox Hunt? They just kinda disappeared, but I never actually heard anything about them breaking up. Man, I loved those guys.
August 21, 2013 @ 12:08 pm
I was told last year at Muddy Roots by a member of Cutthroat Shamrock (another great band that I don’t think has been mentioned) that John Miller from Fox Hunt has a band called Prison Book Club. Almost forgot about it till recently. More of a southern rock sound, but still really cool. Didn’t know about the Hackensaw Boys. I’ll be checking them out tonight!
August 19, 2013 @ 6:57 pm
Also forgot to mention Donna the Buffalo, local favorite, you can find full shows from DTB and a lot of these bands for free download at:
August 19, 2013 @ 7:26 pm
Check out these guys…you’ll want to add ’em to your list!!!
August 19, 2013 @ 9:18 pm
Um… I think you missed The Gourds. But, overall a great list.
August 20, 2013 @ 1:48 am
40 comments in and we all forgot about The Calamity Cubes!
August 20, 2013 @ 7:51 am
That was the first band that came to my mind! Ever since I saw them at Muddy Roots a few years back!
Local favorite in this category (kind of) is the Eno Mountain Boys, there supposed to be coming out with a new album at some point soon….
August 21, 2013 @ 9:27 am
I just scrolled the list and was coming down to give you shit ….you were gonna get it Trig hahaha until I seen this…….go back and add them Damn it!!!!!
August 20, 2013 @ 6:27 am
Another great one is the Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band from West Virginia.
August 20, 2013 @ 7:43 am
Devil Makes Three Buddy Miller produced album? cant wait to hear that!! Also love to see Foghorn String Band listed, an awesome band that deserve more recognition.
August 20, 2013 @ 12:24 pm
I’m not a M&S fan. Never cared for em. But I don’t hate em. I just think they’re [insert favorite string band] lite. It’s like they tapped into a genre and watered it down to appeal to the masses. But – they are bringing a style to people who probably wouldn’t give the Avetts or CCDrops or Yonder Mtn a second thought. As purists or fans of those other bands, we may hold a bit of a grudge because M&S hit it big while more talented, and probably more deserving, bands still play the small venue circuits. But hopefully people who like M&S want to hear other similar bands. Hopefully they’ll go looking and find all these bands that have been mentioned in this article and comments, become fans, and bring balance back to the string band universe.
August 20, 2013 @ 8:04 pm
Sorry for starting the Carolina Chocolate Drops shit show up there
August 20, 2013 @ 8:31 pm
You never need to apologize for stimulating discussion. That is what this is all about.
August 21, 2013 @ 5:53 am
Mumford and Sons completely changed how I write and think about music. Before them I knew wanted to make “country” but I didn’t want to make what was on the radio. Mumford and Sons showed me that only was there alternatives out there but people were willing to listen to them. This got me into a bunch of different stuff that eventually led me to this site. They were my gateway drug into roots and underground country music. I think the reason so many people dislike them is because of their popularity and the fambase they attract.
August 21, 2013 @ 8:27 am
I’m quite pleased to see The Devil Makes Three at the top of the list.
I’m not sure how you define “string band”. Larry and His Flask is an amazing band, but I wouldn’t consider them a string band since they have a drummer and electric guitar.
August 21, 2013 @ 5:26 pm
Well, neither is Mumford & Sons because they use drums with their feet at least, and a keyboard. The Avetts now have full drums in many of their songs, and regularly use keys and electric guitar. I’m using “stings bands” as a generalizing term here for lack of a better one. The point of including the bands on the list I did was to try and find bands that would appeal to Mumford & Sons fans, but that may have a little more substance to their music. That is why I included Larry & His Flask, because I think they have a lot of specific things to their style and sound that would appeal to Mumford fans.
August 21, 2013 @ 8:58 am
I would also add the Infamous Stringdusters and the Punch Brothers to that list, world re-known players who are unheard of and underrated.
August 21, 2013 @ 9:31 am
The Harmed Brothers as well
August 21, 2013 @ 9:57 am
I like all of the mentioned including Mumford & Sons. Just because sad mopey hipsters gravitate to them doesn’t mean they are less musicians. They love music and they, by grass roots efforts, became popular. They are no better or worse than any band on this list. They are just a band that is making a living doing what they love to do. AND I will listen to Mumford & Sons 1000 times a day if it means I don’t have to EVER listen to Luke Bryant.
August 21, 2013 @ 11:10 am
These boys from Stevens Point Wisconsin are definitely in the running. Horseshoes & Hand Grenades are gonna take the American string band scene by storm!
August 21, 2013 @ 11:15 am
oops, wrong URL.
August 21, 2013 @ 11:50 am
my liking a band has nothing to do with their popularity. I like Mumfords and Sons before they were famous and would continue liking them. I like their Babel CD. It’s a light in a chart full of Rihanna and Kanye.
August 21, 2013 @ 12:28 pm
Being &raised on Bluegrass, I’m not sure what genre I’d place Mumford and Sons in. I guess “string band” is as good as any. My biggest problem with them is, when I listen to one of their albums, I can’t differentiate between tracks 1 & 10, or 2 & 8, and so on. It’s all the same format. Start out slow, build, then kick in three chords and a cloud of dust with a banjo accompaniment. I guess what I’m trying to say is, “they bore me”.
August 21, 2013 @ 1:01 pm
“I guess what I”™m trying to say is, “they bore me”.
Now that gave me a chuckle. Thanks.
August 21, 2013 @ 5:29 pm
I respect that the list is bands that “Are” now “Were” but one of my ‘gateway drugs’ out of classic rock to the country and bluegrass scene was Nickel Creek. Sara Watkins recent solo work is also solid. As much as I try and as much as I respect his raw talent I’ve just not been able to get that into some of Chris Thile’s work, though your milage may vary.
August 22, 2013 @ 7:24 am
I don’t think Mumford and Sons fans will cross over to either the Country or Bluegrass genre’s any time soon. A quick scan through the marketing lists at iTunes, Amazon and AllMusic Guide shows a bunch of Alt-Pop and Alt-Folk artists. I’ll admit, I don’t even know who most of these bands are. The ones I do recognize, Fleet foxes, Decemberists, Lumineers, Avett Bro’s, Civil Wars, are on the edge of what I’ll tolerate.
Maybe, a few years in the future, some of the kids listening to Mumford and Sons, will start to seek out the DIY string bands, but for now, they are just getting to the “Alternative” genre.
I’m not entirely negative on Mumford. they may have a positive influence somewhere down the road when their listeners get older and their musical awareness matures. Some of those fans will eventually seek out the underground / DIY country and bluegrass scenes where the bands work for a living, playing the music they love.
Here are the marketing lists…
iTunes lists Mumford and Sons “Contemporaries” as
Sam Lee, Smoke Fairies, Stornoway, Laura Marling, Noah & The Whale, Fleet Foxes, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Dry the River, Ben Howard and Jake Bugg
Amazon says “Customers Also Bought Items By”
The Lumineers, Of Monsters And Men, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, Fun., Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Florence + The Machine, Imagine Dragons
AllMusic Guide says that are “Similar To”
Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale, Sam Lee, Smoke Fairies, Stornoway, Ben Howard, Dry the River, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Fleet Foxes, Jake Bugg, A.A. Bondy, Alasdair Roberts, Bon Iver, Deer Tick, Here We Go Magic, Jessica Lea Mayfield, The Unthanks, BOY, Calexico, Iron & Wine, James Yorkston, Johnny Flynn, Levek, Lissie, Matrimony, Mrs. Greenbird, Sarah Harmer, Sean O’Connell, The Decemberists, To Kill a King, Wooden Birds, Houndmouth
August 24, 2013 @ 8:23 am
Good list. The 23 String Band out of Louisville, KY is also worth checking out. Among other great tunes, they do a phenomenal cover of John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Day” (same song Turnpike Troubadours cover on Diamonds & Gasoline).
October 16, 2013 @ 12:44 pm
.357 string band is my favorite of the list sucks that they burned themselves out. I never liked mumford I grew up listening to the legends of bluegrass my favorite was Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. OCMS is a fun band to listen to but I would classify them more as party music than bluegrass.
November 22, 2013 @ 12:41 pm
Yarn is pretty good too, but might fall into alt country?