Mumford and Sons fans take note — the hotels are full, but there is plenty to eat. And, Taos is happy you are here.

According to Town Manager Oscar Rodríguez there is not an empty bed to be found in any Taos hotel tonight (June 6). Tickets for the top-hit British band’s concert to be held in Kit Carson Park tonight sold out minutes after they went on sale: 8,000 in all. As many as 11,000 people are anticipated to arrive in Taos for the concert. By the time you read these words, our town will have nearly tripled in size.

Taos Solar Music Festival co-founder Dawn Richardson (co-producer with AEG Live) reported that it has taken three production companies to bring Mumford and Sons to Taos. In the week before the event, Richardson said the number of people working on producing the festival is growing exponentially.

She emphasized that in addition to fans coming from all over to see the show, “all kinds of people are coming from all over the country to put on the show.”

Richardson said she has seen Mumford and Sons play live a couple of times. “They’re a really exciting band. They have wonderful, fun energy. They know how to deal with a crowd.”

Mumford and Sons are Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin) Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, guitar, resonator guitar) and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar). The band’s second album “Babel” debuted as No. 1 in both U.K. and U.S. charts and was awarded Album of the Year at this year’s Grammy’s.

Opening acts for the show are Michael Kiwanuka and Mystery Jets (see sidebar).

This summer the Mumfords are touring Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and Japan on their “Summer Stampede Tour.” They have sold out all but one of their U.S. shows. With concerts booked in Tokyo, Montreal and Chicago, their Taos show stands out as something unusual. For one, it’s their only appearance in the state of New Mexico.

“It’s going to be memorable, whatever happens,” promised Richardson. “This is a big summer send-off for Taos. This is going to be one heck of a Thursday night downtown.”

In order to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown for concert-goers, Rodríguez said the town of Taos plans to close Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos’ main street through town, from the intersection with Kit Carson Road at Taos Plaza to just past the Presbyterian Church. Other streets in Taos’ historic district that will be closed to vehicles are Civic Plaza Drive, Martyrs Lane and Bent Street. Traffic will be re-routed onto Camino de la Placita.

From noon until 7 p.m., the Civic Plaza Drive Street Fair, located just across the street from Kit Carson Park, will become a friendly welcoming center for concert-goers, with a large variety of food, snack and beverages for sale as well as other useful items such as sunhats, sunscreen and information about Taos businesses and sight-seeing. Live bands will be scattered throughout the historic district and the Taos Convention Center’s Bataan Hall will be turned into a festive beer garden.

The Taos County Chamber of Commerce organized the Civic Plaza Drive Street Fair “to roll out the red carpet for this anticipated crowd, to provide food and beverages ... and also to show this crowd the breadth of our community,” said Chamber Board President Brad Malone.

Malone added that the street fair was meant “to offer the opportunity for businesses to have a presence right across the concert venue and to set up a welcoming, festive atmosphere so [visitors] take away a fond memory of Taos.”

In addition, the town of Taos has arranged for designated parking areas to catch the flow of traffic, with the Chile Line running shuttles between the parking lots and downtown area. Shuttles will also be on hand to transport visitors from many of the area hotels.

Rodríguez emphasized that the parking lots and shuttle buses are available for both visitors and Taos residents to use. Detailed information on parking and shuttles can be found online at taos.org/visit/mumford-sons as well as solarmusicfest.com/solar/index.php.

Concert-goers are advised to visit the Taos Solar Music Festival’s website and Facebook pages for up-to-date information pertinent to the concert and visiting Taos.

While all of the Taos hotels are sold out for Thursday night, those still seeking a place to spend the night can visit taos.org/visit/mumford-sons for updates on other lodging options.

Rodríguez said that business owners seem to have had one of two responses to the influx of visitors. Some have closed their doors, others have embraced the opportunity to have newcomers learn about their goods and services.

A few restaurants and shops are offering special Mumford fan discounts. Kelly Rudy, the Executive Assistant at El Monte Sagrado Resort & Spa, confirmed that food at the luxury resort’s De La Tierra Restaurant and the Anaconda Bar is offered for a 15 percent discount on Wednesday and Thursday. Los Rios River Runners are offering discounts on their river rafting trips down the Rio Grande. La Tierra Mineral Gallery is offering a 15 percent discount on crystals, geodes candleholders and more when customers say “Mums the Word.” 

Some businesses wish the event was longer than just one night. Kachina Lodge Group Sales and Front Desk Manager Cheryl Webster said, “Of course it has helped everybody ... but it’s too bad it’s just one day. We always sell out for Solar Fest and Solar Fest is really good for the town. We kind of like the weekend deal rather than the one night deal.” She added that “time will tell” how much the one-day concert boosts the town’s economy.

Malone emphasizes that the business brought into the town is just one part of the story. He said the event has created an unparalleled direct marketing opportunity for local businesses to get the word out about their products and services as well as the town of Taos. It’s hard to say what kind of ripple effect that will have.

For the short-term, Rodríguez feels confident that the town is ready for the crowds. “It’s a big undertaking for a town of 6,000 to host 8,000 people,” he said. “We’ve got a plan — we’ve got back-up plans, emergency plans. We’ve looked at this every possible way. We’ve drilled. We’ve marshaled all the resources necessary. I think it’s going to be okay.”

While concert-goers will be packed into the standing room only (no chairs allowed) concert venue, Oscar Rodríguez, like many other Taoseños without concert tickets, will be watching the show from outside the concert gates. He said he has been invited to three different outdoor parties near to Kit Carson Park. 

“I think that will be at least as fun,” Rodríguez said.

Opening acts

Wondering who’s opening for Mumford and Sons tonight (June 6) in Kit Carson Park? Here’s a little rundown on who they are ...

Michael Kiwanuka

With Michael Kiwanuka, it’s all about the voice. A voice that he describes as “hitting straight through to the core” with direct, emotional songs about love, yearning, comfort and belonging. It’s a voice that built him a following via MySpace and small London gigs, and led Paul Butler from The Bees to invite him to the band’s Isle of Wight studio to lay down introductory tracks from what promises to be a major new British singer-songwriter. Which makes it all the more strange, really, that what Michael originally set out to be was a session guitarist who maybe wrote the odd song for other people ...

Like most of his schoolmates, he liked bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, Offspring and Blur, but it was only when he discovered that Jimi Hendrix was black that he understood he had a place playing rock guitar ...

(His) debut EP was produced by Paul Butler of The Bees, in the band’s Isle of Wight studio. “I’d just been playing my songs with an acoustic guitar, and that will always be the core, the thing I come back to. But Paul also encouraged me to mix in the kind of music I was playing when I was hanging out in Hackney, so I got to play a bit more electric, and a bit of bass, and it turned out to be quite a soulful record. It’s got folk things there but also influences like Shuggie Otis and Curtis Mayfield. I really enjoyed making it.”

“Tell Me A Tale,” “I Need Your Company” and “Worry Walks Beside Me are timeless songs that could only have come from Britain in 2011. Real, raw and achingly beautiful, they are just a taste of what is to come.

Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets are an English indie rock band, formerly based on Eel Pie Island in Twickenham, London. The band was formed by Henry Harrison (lyrics, piano), Blaine Harrison (vocals, guitar and keyboards) and William Rees (guitar, vocals) when the boys were still at school and would send each other songs on cassettes. The other member is Kapil Trivedi (drums).

“Well, it’s been a busy start to the year so far – we spent March and April playing shows throughout Europe with Mumford and Sons as well as a string of our own in Holland, Germany and Denmark,” Blaine Harrison writes on the band’s website. “We also released our first live album on double vinyl – ‘Live At The Royal Festival Hall’ on Record Store Day 2013. Capturing the energy of a live show on record is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and it feels good to have a souvenir of one of the most enjoyable Jets gigs to date.

“After a couple of weeks of sunning ourselves back in London, we are now ready to head back out on the road for the second leg of the Mumfords world tour. America!

“Beginning up in the Canadian Rockies, the tour takes us right down the west coast through Washington (with a stop in North Bend, aka Twin Peaks), Oregon, California (where we will also play our own San Francisco date) and then across though the south – Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (catch our own show in Austin) and Louisiana, with a big outdoor show to end the tour in Kansas.

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