Umphrey's McGee: "The Floor"

An inside look at all things Umphrey's from the Windy City and abroad

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Amazing Grace/Glory from The Aragon 11/26/11

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Stew Art Series

Have you ever wanted to "conduct" an Umphrey's McGee jam? Ever wished you could broadcast your thoughts to the band to help influence the direction of a Jimmy Stewart? Are you curious about the band's improvisational thought process during a jam and want to gain greater insight while participating directly? Well, here is your chance as we are pleased to announce the Stew Art Series (S2).

An (S2) event is an experiment in crowd-sourced improvisation. One hundred percent of the music performed at a (S2) event will be improvised, and you are the ones who will serve as directors. Using several communication mediums - which could range from text messaging to prewritten cue cards to chalk boards - you will kick out ideas, descriptive words, phrases, pop culture references . . . pretty much whatever comes to mind. These will be presented to the band who will compose jams on the fly based around those ideas, and ideas will be added to, changed, and deleted as the event progresses. For instance, a fan might toss out the phrase "frightened rabbit," causing the band the play a frantic, nimble jam and after a period of time, the word "rabbit" might get changed to "brontosaurus" which would take the jam in a heavy, slower direction (though the word "frightened" is still in play). Then perhaps the word "skydiving" morphs the "frightened brontosaurus" jam into a soaring, powerful piece of music that evokes the feeling of being airborne . . . until the phrase "without a parachute" gets tacked on which changes the jam into something else entirely. And so on. No one will have any idea where the music is headed, well, and that's all part of the fun. The event will also include a Q&A session to provide an opportunity to ask about what you're witnessing (or ask anything else for that matter). Fans will become a part of the music like never before.

To be clear, each Stew Art show is a TOTALLY separate event than the scheduled concert date and will be sold as a separate ticket - getting a ticket to (S2) does not get you into the show later that night (and vice versa). The (S2) experiment is just that, an experiment. We view this as an opportunity to explore methods of band and fan interaction and collectively discover what works best. The details of each event (cost, size, length, method of interplay) will vary depending on venue size, our costs, and the goal for each experience. But space will be extremely limited as intimacy is paramount. Some of those details will be made public before each show while others will remain a mystery until the show unfolds. We want you to help us determine how the events can best evolve and grow to their potential. 

As part of your ticket (which will actually be a custom laminate that will be different for each (S2) event), every attendee will receive an autographed CD of the Stew Art Series they attend minutes after the event has concluded. The Q&A will also be included on the disc as we will be recording your questions for posterity (we are not sure if that's for your posterity or for ours). You will get to see some classic venues as you have never seen them, empty and in the day time. And on top of that you will get treated an entirely improvised light show by lighting designer Jefferson Waful. We will make sure you stay hydrated and even have some munchies to replace the calories you'll burn while pushing the band to explore new ground.

Expect an announcement about our first Stew Art Series event soon!