The United Kingdom has a long, rich tradition of folk artists. Bluegrass, on the other hand, isn't so prevalent in those parts. That all changed when Mumford & Sons emerged with their musical cocktail blend of folk, bluegrass, rock, and country.
The quartet consists of four vocalists who also play various instruments -- Marcus Mumford (guitar/drums), “Country” Winston Marshall (banjo/Dobro), Ben Lovett (keyboards), and Ted Dwane (bass). It was a shared passion for roots music that brought them together in late 2007, despite their individual attachments to other bands.
It didn't take long for Mumford & Sons to find a home in the flourishing underground folk scene in West London. A year later, they were on stage at the famed Glastonbury Festival without ever releasing anything.
That soon changed with two EPs in 2008 – an eponymous debut and Love Your Ground. The following year, another EP dropped, The Cave and the Open Sea. They also landed a deal with Island Records and were partnered with Arcade Fire and Björk producer Markus Drays.
The first single to emerge from the new set was “Little Lion Man” which was anointed Hottest Record in the World This Week by BBC 1 Radio DJ Zane Lowe that July. The next night, he proclaimed it to be the "Hottest Record in the World." Likewise, Dave Berry of XFM also declared "Little Lion Man" his record of the week, later amending that to be his favorite track of the year. Even before the full record came out, they made the BBC's Sound of 2009 Poll and they sold out a show at London's ICA in only 24 hours.
Sigh No More was eventually issued in the winter of 2009 with a North American release in 2010 via Glassnote Records. Appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson helped the band gain ground in the States.
All of that acclaim was enough to nab Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Song ("Little Lion Man"), as well as a performance of “The Cave” on the telecast. Sales jumped 99% following the airing in which they also backed Bob Dylan when he sang “Maggie's Farm.”
Not to be overlooked completely, in early 2011, Mumford & Sons won a Brit Award for British Album of the Year. Between the U.S. and UK, Sign No More managed to sell more than a million units. Their much-anticipated sophomore set was slated for a late 2011 street date.