All aboard! Mumford & Sons chugs into Port of Oakland

It’s still something of a mystery.

But somehow, the intellectual, traditional English folk music of London’s acoustic combo Mumford & Sons has actually managed to catch on in America. To the point where the quartet was just nominated for two (count ’em, two) 2010 Grammys. And tomorrow night, they’re continuing their assault on these shores in a most unusual fashion, via the Railroad Revival Tour (with Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show) that chugs into the Port of Oakland.

It’s pulled by twin locomotives, is 1,500 feet long, and features 15 vintage railcars, just like Robert Conrad’s “Wild Wild West” secret serviceman Jim West used to employ.

Which perfectly matches the band’s vintage-equipment aesthetic, observes bandleader Marcus Mumford (boyfriend to fellow English folkie Laura Marling). “We work with whatever we can, and whatever isn’t broken at the time. We have our own personal instruments at home, some of which are vintage, some of which aren’t, but none of us have ever had a lot of money to spend on instruments. So I’ve just started collecting them now, and I just bought a 100-year-old harmonium, which I love, but I can’t take on tour. And I’ve bought a vintage drum kit that I love, too, but I’ve stopped taking that on tour because it’s just getting beaten into the ground.”

But the “Little Lion Man” outfit will ring like a bell on Railroad Revival, he adds, “because I actually just bought two Martin guitars that are brand new, since that’s what I really need for touring purposes.”

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