How did Dixon land Mumford gig?
DIXON – Mumford & Sons likes to stop in towns where bands don’t usually tour.
During its current U.S. tour, the group is straying off the beaten path to include four stops in relatively small towns, but none is smaller than Dixon, population 15,733.
Besides Dixon, the London-based folk rock band is staging 1-day, outdoor concerts in Portland, Maine; Bristol, which straddles Tennessee and Virginia; and Monterey, Calif.
Organizers sold all 15,000 tickets for the Aug. 18 Dixon concert within a day. They expect many more thousands to visit town as part of a 3-day music festival.
Such a shindig might not be such a big deal in the other places. Bristol, for instance, regularly brings in large crowds. The Bristol Motor Speedway can house 165,000 NASCAR fans; it is the fourth-biggest sports venue in the United States.
Portland, population 66,194, is Maine’s biggest city. Monterey, population 27,810, is on the beach about an hour south of the San Francisco-San Jose metropolitan area, and it already is a well-known music venue, dating back to the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival, which drew an estimated 90,000 people.
Dixon was one of 400 towns in the Midwest that vied for the four U.S. stops on the Mumford & Sons tour, said Josh Albrecht, executive director of Dixon Main Street, the group that applied in January for the concert.
“One of the things they were really focusing on were towns with a lot of local history,” Abrecht said.
Dixon fit the bill.
In Main Street’s application, Albrecht noted the community was the site of Fort Dixon during the Blackhawk War, in which Abraham Lincoln, Zachary Taylor and Jefferson Davis served.
Of course, Albrecht told the concert organizers that Dixon was the hometown of Ronald Reagan and Charles Walgreen, with John Deere settling in Grand Detour, just north of town.
“We’ve got some ‘outlaw history’ that you are looking for,” Albrecht wrote in the application.
The Banditti gang, he said, terrorized Dixon and surrounding towns. He also wrote the story behind the logically named Bloody Gulch Road – a man was found murdered in the gulch along the road.
History is a theme for Mumford & Sons. Earlier in the summer, Mumford’s lead singer, Marcus Mumford, told the Monterey County Herald that Monterey native John Steinbeck, author of “Grapes of Wrath,” was a big reason the band chose that town. The group even referred to Steinbeck’s work in its debut album, “Sigh No More.”
In the local application, Albrecht listed possible sites for concerts, noting Page Park’s ability to accommodate thousands. It was chosen.
In May, band member Ben Lovett said Dixon came on the group’s radar in 2011.
“We got a photo and postcard,” he said. “We loved the look and history, and it seemed to make sense geographically.”
He didn’t say how the band got the photo and postcard.