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Mumbo Jumbo’s Rural Touring Story

Mumbo-Jumbo – Acoustic Close Harmony Multi-instrumentalist Singer/Songwriting Trio

Performers for Live & Local, Spot On Lancashire and Arts Out West (so far!)

By Oliver Carpenter

Some years ago I went with some friends to my first Shindig (Worcestershire) Rural Touring performance at our local village hall. It was a piece of comedy theatre and we had a ball. The village hall atmosphere, small and intimate setting and the quality of the performance was great, as was the sheer incongruity of 85 people crammed into a little village hall in the middle of nowhere to see some high quality professional theatre.

Having been a musician for twenty years I saw the possibility of taking our acoustic trio into village halls and tried to get onto the official circuit – unsuccessfully. So we started putting on our own gigs in village halls across Worcestershire in conjunction with local people to help us promote them and they were great fun and perfect for the band. We’d hire the hall, put on the bar, sell the tickets etc and now have half a dozen village halls we regularly play with more asking us to play at their village hall each year.

But we also wanted to get on the official Rural Touring network so we went on Live & Local’s Artist Development Programme (DART) and PANDA’s Rural Touring workshop scheme and those have really helped us move forward in the way we promote ourselves to the Schemes, and have evolved our specific village hall show.

As a close-harmony, singer-songwriting, piano-based trio somewhere to the left of blues and the right of folk, we really enjoy the intimate conversational vibe of the village hall environment. We can take the audience from poignant songs about old soldiers to funny songs about bald spots and back; we can go off in unexpected directions of music and humour to match the atmosphere or location; and we can carry the audience along with singing or kazooing along (everyone gets a kazoo in our RT show) with selected songs.

And in our short Rural Touring career to date there have been so many highlights;

– A bleak Monday night in Derbyshire where a roomful of people braved the weather to enjoy the show, and laughed and sang along to songs they had never heard before. Seventy-two people singing the chorus of Phil’s song ‘Rejoice in Life’ a capella as the rain tipped down outside. 

– A show in Lancashire where, before the show, we heard the local ukulele group rehearsed in the village hall so we invited them along to join in on a couple of songs (it sold some extra tickets and created a unique musical moment).

– A show in Shropshire, one of our own promoted village halls, where someone from the village brought the most amazing array of cakes for sale which became a bit of a theme for the night.

Would we encourage other people to get involved in the Rural Touring circuit – absolutely yes (so long as they don’t end up with any of our slots!). It is a marvellous arrangement where communities come together, performers get to share what they do, in odd shaped rooms. Locations take on the personality of the promoter, everyone is there to enjoy themselves and make the most of an opportunity which is slightly unlikely in terms of the location and the performer quality.

 We love Rural Touring – so bring it on, the more the merrier!! 

 Mumbo-Jumbo were nominated in the British Blues Awards for Best Song/Songwriters.