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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Dispatch from your resident Stewartologist

For years the band has received emails, fielded requests and received the occasional bribe to repeat a Stewart. They may occasionally feel something in the moment and go back to listen to it the next day, but only rarely does a Stewart return as an entire piece. Usually those are built around a lego someone brought into the mix, Day Nurse and Night Nurse being perfect examples. More often than not, these nightly creations are left to the tapes for the dedicated archivist to sift through and savor. We came up with Q4 to give fans a chance to hear us give these babies another spin. 

How do you make 33 selections out of 5000 pieces of improvisation? With a little help from your friends.

We started with the results from yearly fan polls, added band recommendations and a smattering of suggestions from @Jwelsh8 (webmaster, “Jimmy Stewart” enabler) and @McL2016 (yours truly, UMcast curator, “Jimmy Stewart album” guy).

After the culling, some mulling (over) of the 150 finalists; strident advocates, ardent opponents, cogent moderators, ambivalent indifferents. Disputes were resolved by an array of games including, but not limited to, thumb wars, pennis, freestyle jumprope, Native American leg wrestling and rochambeau. When all was said and done, a puff of white smoke was released from the tour bus to signify the final decisions had been reached.  

And now we present unto you, the UMBowl III Q4 Raw Stewage selections (in 90 second snippets)

Are these the 33 Greatest “Jimmy Stewarts” in Umphrey’s McGee History? Not exactly. Many of the past standouts have become originals, graduating from the accidental to the intentional. There’s at least 20 alumni by my estimates. A handful of songs have been crafted from multiple graduates, Bridgeless being the mother of all Frankenstewarts, stitched together from four Stewarts and a few original sections!

Of the unsonged...Why these 33? What makes these indispensable? What makes them worth revisiting?  Why take the spontaneous and attempt to recreate it? Can you capture lightning in a bottle twice? My, aren’t you full of questions.

Allow me to answer your questions with some of my own. Have you ever listened to a Stewart so many times that you can replay that transcendent Jake solo note-for-note on your mental jukebox? Or walked down the street with one of Brendan’s grinding riffs propelling your pace forward? Or left a show with that lyrical Stewart still running through your head, Brendan having somehow captured aspects of your emotional life that you hadn’t been able to quantify?

The best Stewarts can make you feel as if you’ve been transported to another dimension...close your’s no longer 12 arms, 6 hearts, but a oneness, a mindmeld tickling the hairs of your ear canal, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Others are just kinda catchy.

Can the band make Q4 live up to its lofty aspirations and expectations? Time and again, Umphrey’s McGee has proven they can rise to the occasion, take that expectation and one-up it. They will no doubt attack Q4 with ferocity, a game plan mapped out, but always ready to alter course when the opportunity presents itself.

22 days and counting...