This is an exceptionally late post, I know, but there is good reason for it.
Yesterday I spent all day driving through a dust storm. Sunday I spent all day in Marfa, Tx rocking out at the Railroad Revival Tour with Mumford & Sons.
Marfa is a dusty little town in far West Texas with one ATM and a Border Patrol station. It’s definitely not the kind of place you’d expect a kick-ass tour with Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to stop in. It’s also the last place on Earth you’d expect to see Jake Gyllenhaal.
In the days leading up to the concert, Marfa’s city councilman sent out an informational email to all the concert-goers just to let all us “hippies” know what to expect. I think this alone will illustrate the eccentricities of small town West Texas.
“As everyone is aware, our town’s population will more than double during the weekend and public safety and regulatory agencies are taking steps to make sure rules are followed and people are safe… ATTENTION- visitors from Austin may not be aware that only in Austin are possession or smoking of marijuana laws not enforced. Out here drug enforcement is vigorous and it is arguably an industry. Do not expect to NOT be ticketed or go to jail for possession. Read these last two sentences twice- four times if you’ve been smoking pot…Lastly, if you are cited for a jailable offense and do go to jail, I have been informed that you will be processed for jail in Marfa, then you will be placed into a paddy wagon, when, once full, it will take you two hours away to the Hudspeth County Jail, where you will be held. That’s in hellish Sierra Blanca, the last place you will want to be after spending a few great hours in beautiful Marfa.”
Later, on the Marfa RRT Facebook page, we were all very nicely warned of the following: “You may want to bring your own food, as Marfa only has a few restaurants and they will probably be closed for Easter Sunday. You also probably want to get cash before you leave, because we only have one ATM and we might run out of money. And you’ll want to fill up on gas before you get in to town, because we only have 2 gas stations and we might run out of gas.”
I lined up to get into the show at 3:30pm – two hours before gates opened. As I waited, patiently being sand blasted, I saw the people approaching. The man in the middle was wearing a grey T-shirt, aviators and a black Pittsburgh Pirates cap just barely sitting on top of his head. That guy is hot! I thought to myself as I shamelessly checked him out. He walked up to the front gate, then double backed with his gorgeous blond lady-friend so she could get her ticket. It was at this point I thought to myself, He looks a lot like Jake Gyllenhaal. As I watched him walk back to the front gate, the guy behind me said. “Dude…I think that’s Jake Gyllenhaal.”
No way, thought I. A famous actor like that would not be in Marfa freaking Texas. I studied him closely as he showed his backstage pass to the guard at the gate and then went inside the camp ground. The cops standing inside the camp ground stared and turned a full circle to watch him pass, and then pointed at him and looked at each other like “Did you just see who that was?”
Thinking quickly, I sent a text to my best friend:
Me: I’m 75% sure I just saw Jake Gylenhal (sp?)
Sarah: No way! Where?
Me: At the concert. Do you know if he has a shaved head right now?
Sarah: No, but I will google it. Holy shit! He totally does! Shaved so close he’s almost bald.
Me: It was him! Almost bald!
Sarah: What the f*** are you doing? Get his photo!
The concert started promptly at 6:30, and kicked off with an African-American man dressed as an old-timey train attendant. He had with him a small Xylaphone and chimed out a few notes before introducing Old Crow Medicine Show. OCMS hitched up their britches and got the crowd dancing and kicking up dirt for an hour. Next was the main attraction for me, Mumford & Sons.
Mumford & Sons were fantastic. They played perfectly and sounded great. After the first song (title track, “Sigh No More”), the bassist’s stand up bass had lost a couple strings. “The West Texas sun melted my bass!” he shouted. A roadie brought out a Fender to replace it and the bassist said, “Luckily we have one of these new-fangled electric ones.” But before he had time to put it over his shoulders, Old Crow Medicine Show kindly offered up their stand up bass, and the show continued. At the end of the second song, the roadie returned with the freshly stringed bass. “She’s back!” cried the bassist, joyfully. “She’s been resurrected.” It was an Easter miracle!
“Marfa, your good reputation knows no bounds,” said lead singer Marcus Mumford. “You have a marvelous town. Or should I say, Marfa-lous?” He’s got jokes!
Mumford & Sons played two brand new songs for us also. The tentatively titled ballad “Lover’s Eyes” and percussion heavy “Lover of the Light.” Both songs were great, an indication that their next album will not be disappointing. “Lover of the Light” is a sure to be hit, I did not want this song to end.
After sunset, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros took the stage. Consequently, no one in the band is named Edward Sharpe. I had never heard of them before, but I did recognize a couple of their songs from commercials. Nevertheless, they put on a high energy show and lead singer Alex Ebert spent more time down with crowd than he did the stage which was very cool.
It was without a doubt the best Easter ever. I had so much fun, the music was terrific, the people of Marfa were super friendly (of course) and I got to see Jake Gyllenhaal. I didn’t even mind being completely covered in dirt at the end of the night.
Marcus Mumford with Old Crow Medicine Show
Jake Gyllenhaal hanging out backstage
Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros standing on the guard rail