Already known for bringing much of their audience into banjo music territory for the first time, Mumford & Sons are now hoping fans will follow them into a rural corner of northwestern Iowa that probably never would have factored into summer vacation plans.
The British folk-rock giants have picked Waverly, Iowa — three hours southeast of the Twin Cities — as one of four small towns across the country to host their roaming Gentlemen of the Road pop-up festival June 19-20.
Kentucky indie-rock favorites My Morning Jacket and Oklahoma psychedelic heroes the Flaming Lips are also on the lineup for the one-time-only, two-night musical camp-out, which will also feature Dawes, Jenny Lewis, the Maccabees, Jeff the Brotherhood and more names to be announced.
Two-day passes for the festival go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for $199 via the website GentlemenoftheRoad.com, where details on camping are also available.
Waverly, home to 9,874 residents and private Wartburg College, Waverly joins a list of host cities that also includes Seaside Heights, N.J., Salida, Colo., and Walla Walla, Wash. The Iowa stop is two hours northwest of Des Moines and about five hours from Chicago, other big cities where the festival will be promoted.
It’s not clear how or why Waverly was picked, but it fits this description the band gave for choosing stops on its 2013 Gentlemen of the Road festivals: “We get to put them on in towns not normally frequented by touring bands in busses or splitter vans. We deliberately look for towns that have something unique, or some vibe of which they are proud, explore them and enjoy what they have to offer.”
Waverly apparently wasn’t the first choice for an Iowa stop. Decorah, home of Luther College, was originally looked at, according to the college newspaper, but school administrators weren’t hip to hosting the event.
The booking could set up a dilemma for Twin Cities music lovers, since it falls on the same weekend as Rock the Garden at Walker Art Center. Rock the Garden organizers have moved up the announcement of their lineup by a month to next week (Tuesday, March 10).
There’s more competition for Rock the Garden than the Mumford fest, too. First Avenue nightclub is finalizing details on its long-awaited inaugural festival in downtown Minneapolis, to be held another weekend this summer. That’s in addition to Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires festival being announced for July 17-18 in Eau Claire, Wis. Rumored acts for this year’s Basilica Block Party (July 11-12) also fall squarely in the Rock the Garden/89.3 the Current camp. The Soundset hip-hop festival is also announcing its eighth annual Memorial Day weekend lineup on Tuesday.
Mumford & Sons will release their third album, “Wilder Mind,” on May 4. It’s been a long time coming, as the band’s breakthrough record, “Babel,” came out back in 2012 on its way to selling nearly 3 million U.S. copies and an album of the year nomination at the Grammys. The Iowa date falls on the weekend after Mumford & Co. headline the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee.