Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why
Sure. It can be a challenge to get moving and gather yourself, your gang, and your daytime festival’s worth of stuff together to get to a music festival like Appel Farm in time to see the opening act. But, let me say, from experience, it’s worth the effort.
If I’d been late last year, I wouldn’t have seen and heard Avi Wisnia playing his childhood toy xylophone, for example. And if I’d gotten to the festival Farm too long after the gates opened several years back, I would have missed what remains one of my top Appel Farm experiences – a less well known Amos Lee playing to a small, but rapt, rain-soaked audience.
So, what I’m saying here is that when you’re making your plans for Appel Farm, Saturday, June 2, 11:30 AM to 8 PM, you might want to be on the festival grounds when Quincy Mumford and The Reason Why kicks it off at 11:30 AM.
When we talked last week, I asked Quincy Mumford – a young but surprisingly seasoned artist – for a reason why people should make it a point to see him and the band perform at Appel Farm. “Being at a festival early is never disappointing,” he said. “And our band puts out a whole ball of energy. We’ll wake people up and get the day started right. It’ll be better than coffee and a bagel.”
Mumford and The Reason Why pride themselves on the quality of their live performances. And, Mumford told me, daytime festivals are the best. “There’s definitely something special about them.”
“We’ve done Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Musikfest in Bethlehem, Sterling Stage in New York,” he said, “and they were all great!”
I asked Mumford if they approach a festival performance differently than other live shows. “Festivals have their own mentality. The best way to engage the audience is to get them moving. We throw in extra jams and just keep the music as funky as possible.”
Of course, Mumford notes, the band does dial it back a bit mid-set. “We give the audience a little break, bring the music down a little, make it more lyrical.”
Mumford says that they often bring in additional band members for festival performances. “. For Appel, we’ve added a percussion player, a slide guitarist and a back-up singer.”
As usual, the Appel Farm line-up is diverse and appealing. I asked Mumford which of the acts he was most excited to see there. “I am really amped up for the Tedeschi Trucks Band,” he told me. “I basically worship them.”
“They’ve been a tremendous influence on me,” he said. “It’s an honor to be on the same bill.”
I also asked Mumford about other artists who’ve had an impact on his music. “I grew up listening to reggae – Marley, Peter Tosh,” he said, “and I’m really, really into soul music.”
“When I first started playing, Jack Johnson was a huge influence on me,” he explained. “But moving forward, I’ve started to drift into other genres.”
When he started out, just about four years ago, Mumford was a solo act. After a few months, he joined with a couple others to form a trio, and, within a year, they were a five-piece band. “I owe a whole lot to the band,” he says. “Everyone brings different music to the table.”
Brian Gearty, who plays bass, was the first person to join the band. “I’ve known Brian since 4th grade,” Mumford told me. Karlee Bloomfield, the keyboard player, came next. “She was a little shy,” he said, “but her playing blew us away!”
Next on board was drummer, Jeff Mann. “He’s an absolute animal,” Mumford says. “We call him the Musical Buddha.” And guitarist Travis Lyon, whose musical taste spans everything from Hendrix to Paul Simon, was playing at a blues festival when Mumford met him.
So, what music do Mumford and his band mates listen to when they’re traveling from gig to gig? “Whoever’s shotgun is the DJ,” he explains. “It could be country and bluegrass, or a lot of soul stuff, or some hip-hop – you know the kind that tells stories.”
Mumford also cites place as a significant aspect in shaping a musical path. He loves the funky, soulful music of New Orleans, for example. And Mumford says he feels fortunate to have grown up next to Asbury Park. “On any given night,” he says, “you can go out and hear music. Eventually I just said to myself ‘Hey, I can do THIS, too.’”
Up until recently, most of the music was written by Mumford, though the band collaborated on a lot of the arrangements for the live album, Live at the Saint. Recently, though, the band has been writing more songs together. “This is definitely taking us in new directions,” he says. “We are constantly discovering ways to make the music more interesting.”
The current plan is to start recording at the end of the summer and hopefully have a new studio album ready to release next winter.
And, throughout the summer, the band will be touring – on what Mumford calls the “Northeast to Southeast run” – doing what they love the most.
“We take a whole lot of pride in our live shows.”
On Friday, May 25, The Reason Why will host “Calm Before the Storm”, an all ages album and DVD release party, at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park. Doors open at 6:00, and the music starts at 8:00, with an acoustic set (the calm) followed what is described on the band’s web site as a “full on raging electric set” (the storm). Tickets are $10, $15 and $20.