Umphrey's McGee: "The Floor"

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

Stream Me

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

UM Links

Email Notifications

Recent Posts

Archives

Friday Freebie: Can't You Hear Me Knocking?

What's that? You need some good old fashioned Rock & Roll to start the weekend? Check out this blistering rendition of Can't You Hear Me Knocking featuring the legendary Stanley Jordan. 

 

Yea, it's free. Because we love you.

 

 

 

Stanley Jordan at sUMmer school!

In exciting news, we've just learned that Stanley Jordan will be gracing us with his presence at our inaguarual sUMmer school! Stanley will participate in a master class workshop as well as conduct a session of his own, and perform as a special guest at the closing concert that evening. 

A few words from "Gold Side" Cummins & "Holy Sh1t Stanley Jordan will be joining us" Bayliss.

What's up everyone?  I'm sure some of you noticed we've posted a tentative schedule for our first ever sUMmer school in the remote beauty of the Catskills, just a few hours north of New York City. We couldn't be more excited to dig deeper into the world of Umphrey's McGee surrounded by musicians, fans & people looking to have a great time with us.  We'll be delving into how we improvise, how we write songs, how we rehearse, how music theory, technology & a handful of other musical & non-musical ideas shape who we are and how we operate.  It will be an in depth week of exploration and interaction between the band & participants, with each night including a full Umphrey's McGee set followed by open jams where the participants will actually get to play & jam with the members of Umphrey's McGee.  

Whether you'd prefer to camp in the beauty of nature or sleep in a bed, the choice is yours. On top of all of this, the gourmet food prepared by the staff at Full Moon Resort is outstanding -- I had breakfast there last year on our site visit and liked it so much we decided that we had to stay for lunch.  Basically, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to merge a music camp & the concert environment of an Umphrey's McGee show into an intimate & interactive weeklong summer camp. Whether you're an aspiring musician, hobby musician or just a fan of music who wants to learn & hang, anyone is welcome.  We have just a few spots still available for the week, so if you're thinking about attending, don't wait any longer! Can't wait to see you all there & make some great music together.

-Joel

I have been in love with the guitar since I first started playing at age 14. When I first heard Stanley Jordan I was 16, and it took my appreciation for the guitar to an entirely different level. Now, almost 20 years later, not only do I get to play with my favorite musician on the planet, I get to sit down and learn directly from the master himself. I simply cannot express in words how truly excited I am that Stanley Jordan is going to join all of us at sUMmer school.

-BB

The man can learn anything in about 60 seconds

Kris Myers with the Mike Keneally Band

Mike Keneally Band Rehearsal 6/15/12

Last week, while taking time off from an amazing festival month with the boys and a raging attendance of Umphreaks (mad love to ya!), I found myself immersed in a heroic dose of complex musical bliss rehearsing and recording at Exowax Studios in San Diego with the great Mike Keneally Band.  After several bowls of granola cereal and bagels (California is the land of “fruits and nuts” isn’t it?), we rehearsed for 3 days and recorded for 1 day, each day for about 8 hours. It was like having a P90X workout on your brain with the amount of music learned but just like playing with Umphrey’s, it was tons ‘o’ fun!  

 

Rehearsing Hallmark from the album Scambot

 

Mike Keneally, in case some of you don’t know, is a legendary guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, and composer, who was best known as former Frank Zappa guitarist/vocalist from 1988 until the passing of Frank in 1993.  He is known by musicians as one of the elite members of Zappa’s touring bands who was able to command Frank’s vast and brutally difficult compositions, all with a brilliant, fire-y infectious charisma. Over the years, Mike has recorded and toured extensively with many artists including Dweezil Zappa (Frank’s son ) with the band called Z. He has also toured and recorded with virtuosos Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Henry Kaiser’s touring Miles Davis tribute band “Yo Miles” and is heavily influenced by the incomparable, prolific songwriter/producer Todd Rundgren (for those who don’t know Todd, you should check him out too). In November of 2008, Mike was hired as musical director of the Paul Green School of Music, which is a tell-tale sign of how generous he is with sharing the gift of music (sounds like a Hallmark card)! Mike currently records and tours with the G3 ensemble, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani (playing keys for Joe, mind you!), and is the guitarist for Dethklok (Metalocalypse)!!  

The Mike Keneally band is comprised of 3 guitarists (Rick Musallam, Mike Keneally, Griff Peters), bass player Bryan Beller (also in Dethklok and former Vai bassist), and Joe Travers on drums, who plays for Zappa Plays Zappa, and is a perfect fit for Mike’s compositions.  Since Joe is touring now with ZPZ, Mike called me to fill in for Joe on a festival on June 24th called NEARfest, a progressive rock Festival near Bethlehem, PA. This show is sold out unfortunately, but I thought I would share with you some of my experiences outside of touring with the almighty UMPH.

 

MKB

 

I must say that it was great to connect with the band on several levels, especially with there uncanny sense of improv and accepting the moment.  Even though we would drill all the arranged parts of his songs, if somebody took a left turn with the part, everyone would create these off the cuff moments that would send me shooting through the rooftop! It was like a game of musical Chutes and Ladders, only everybody wins!  I think you will all dig Mike’s music, as he is THE closest experience to the modern version of Frank Zappa you will find, all the while still representing his own sound.  You can check out his latest live album, “bakin’ @ the potato!”, and his newest studio album “Wing Beat Fantastic”, which will be released very soon. 

-Kris 

 

Weekend at Harmony

The Triple Wide featuring Jeff Austin 05/28/2004

This summer Umphrey's McGee returns to one of the Midwest's favorite venues, Geneva MN's Harmony Park on Friday, July 6th.  This was one of the first major outdoor venues we performed at back in the day, thanks to our friends the Big Wu hosting us there at the Family Reunion back in 2004.  For the past 4-5 years we've been trying to figure out the right scenario where we would be able to return to this beautiful outdoor stage, and finally Weekend at Harmony (with Yonder Mountain String Band holding down the headlining slot the following night) gives us the chance to rock in the midst of glorious Minnesota summer. Not only will we be playing at Harmony Park again, we'll get to perform an entire 2 set show, quite rare for a festival play for us these days.  We hope many of you are as excited as we are about playing outside for our fans in the upper Midwest who have supported us through all of the long, cold winters at inside venues in the area.  Let's make Weekend at Harmony a weekend to remember! 

In particular, check out "The Triple Wide" from this show, which features none other than Yonder Mountain String Band's Jeff Austin sitting in with the band for the first time.  Some unique improv with hints of bluegrass in electronic music create quite a hybrid of sounds. And now 8 years later, here are both YMSB & UM headlining back to back days at the venue where it all went down! 

You can download the entire show for free on the archive because mom says it's nice to share. Rage. Rest. Repeat.

@goldlikejoel

"Titles"

We'd never heard one quite like this before - a hip hop track that uses all UM song titles and lyrics for inspiration. Props to Mikell Knox, a longtime security guard at the Canopy Club down in Urbana, IL for putting this track together with his brother.

How many song references can you find?

UM titles word cloud for your visual entertainment

Summer Camp UMLive USBs

Greetings Campers!

Summer Camp is almost upon us. We wanted to let you know that we'll be offering a brand new 2 GB USB drive loaded with all 3 of our Summer Camp shows. In addition to the audio (256kbps MP3), the drives will also contain exclusive bonus video, behind the scenes photos & audio from the weekend that will only available on these USBs. 

These will be available on site at the merchandise tent shortly after Sunday's performance concludes (around 4pm). For your convenience, you'll be able to purchase a UMLive voucher at any point throughout the weekend & simply swing by Sunday afternoon to pick up your USB. Sound good? 

\mm/

$40 for the USB, 7+ hours of music and all the bonus goodies. 

Summer Camp Picnic & Rubdown

Is everyone ready for the best Summer Camp festival yet?  We certainly are.  

In addition to playing 3 shows on the Sunshine Stage for you this year, we've added a very intimate VIP set at Three Sisters Church followed by a BBQ picnic & hang with the band. We'll be well stocked margaritas & beers to ensure your thirst is properly quenched. For those of you familiar with Summer Camp, the church is where we've done workshops in the past -- it is easily the smallest space Umphrey's McGee has played in the past 10 years.  This is your chance to feel what it was like to see the band in 2001 (in a church no less). The tiny venue also means we'll be on our practice gear, which you might remember seeing from the hurricane ravaged Mulberry Mountain set or during the sick Wizard Burial Ground in the cooking section of Ann Arbor's Borders.  Good things seem to happen when we break it all down.  

I should also mention that we're going to play something for you there that we haven't played in a long time.  Original or cover bust out......hmmm.....I think we'll keep you hanging on that for the moment.  We'll be taking a request or two as well so in theory, anything could happen. Snag a ticket here or email vip@umphreys.com to sign up for the picnic package (which also includes a host of other VIP amenities) and come join the fun!

Joel Goldside Cummins

@goldlikejoel

Golden Ticket 2012

Last year at Summer Camp Music Festival we held the first Golden Ticket event, another curveball offering from team UM. Given the ferocity with which you snapped up a few hundred golden ticket packages, we figured we'd roll out round two this year. 

 

 

What is the Golden Ticket you ask? It's your chance to win free tickets for you and a friend to every UM show for a year*. Or ride shotgun for a golf cart tour of Summer Camp with Stasik. Perhaps you'll snag the golden ticket that has Joel prank calling your buddy. Maybe you'll go home with 1 of 100 Death By Stereo deluxe packages included in this year's offering! At a minimum, you'll take home more merch than you paid for. It's like playing the lottery but you're a guaranteed winner. 

This year we'll be offering 500 DBS tote bags filled with a myriad of supplies from UM HQ. Every bag's contents will remain a mystery until you have it in your hands. But the options are endless. We're hiding 20 Golden Tickets in this year's loot alongside a whole host of new prizes. Along with attending every Umphrey's show for a year, a partial list of items that you could find residing in your bag this year also includes: Death By Stereo Deluxe Packages (1 in 5 wins!), various UM posters, T-shirts, UMLives, download cards, mouse pads, puzzles, DBS demo cassettes, CDs, Vinyl, stickers, and more. Golden Ticket winnings include: photo pass access to the pit for Summer Camp, private meet 'n greet for you +3, 2 tickets to the 5 shows of your choosing*, play the set break music of your choice at a UM show, instant photo shoot with Stasik, tickets to every Summer Camp late night show and the list goes on. 

Like last year, we'll be donating a portion of the proceeds to one of Summer Camp's many not-for-profit charities. This year proceeds will benefit Food Patriots, a charity designed to educate the next generation about the importance of healthy, sustainable eating. So head over to the Soulshine Tent after moe.'s set on Friday and join us for the shenanigans. You can't lose. 

 

Friend & photographer Brian Spady motors away with his bounty to see what awaits him

 

What: UM Golden Ticket

Where: Summer Camp Festival, next to Soulshine Tent

When: Friday, May 25th, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

How Much: $30 per bag. No limit.

Why: Because we love you

#goldenticket

*Tickets are non transferable and are solely for the winner +1 to attend. Festivals are not applicable (unless we can swing it). 

 

Stasik signs some autographs, Joel defends his age

 

Longtime UM fan Hal Cohen revels in the glory of his Golden Ticket 

 

 

Relive the glory

Almost Famous Parody

"From the very beginning we said, I'm the frontman & you're the guitarist with mystique. That's the dynamic we agreed on, Page, Trey...Barber, Brownie...JB, Schools."

Death By Remix has landed!

Good people of the internet, our remix album is officially yours for the taking. 

At the end of 2011, we asked fans, musicians, producers, remixers & your grandmother to take a stab at remixing one of four tracks from our latest release Death By Stereo. For this EP, we've taken the winners of that contest and sweetened the deal with a foray into yet another musical direction. In addition to the four electronic leaning tracks, Death By Remix features a killer hip hop remix of Deeper by Sumpump Productions & The Palmer Squares (including the man, the myth, the legend Andy Farag). And a short remix of Hajimemashite with an isolated string section & acoustic guitar is the cherry on top (also available as a ringtone). 

You can download The Plot Thickens right here, for free, because we love you. And you can return the favor by downloading a copy of Death By Remix (or better yet, send one as a gift) via UMLive.net, iTunes, or Amazon. If you're old school and want a compact disc, head over to UMLive.net and order yourself a hard copy. Thanks for supporting the cause. 

Spread this widget on facebook, twitter, your blog etc. by clicking <share> below

 

 

Chicago: A Song is Born

If you are a fan of Umphrey’s McGee, you know we are huge fans of Chicago. We’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world over and there is simply no place quite like it. So when the opportunity arose to represent Chicago in a fresh & fitting way, rest assured we weren’t going to pass that up.

In a serendipitous meeting at one of Chicago’s many great watering holes, Don Welsh (President & CEO of Choose Chicago) and Kevin Browning (Manages Creative & Business Development for UM) found themselves in a conversation about a new marketing campaign for the city. Don mentioned his desire for a song that would both encapsulate all that is Chicago & serve as a rallying point for the city.  Kevin told him to look no further.

And so a nine month project to craft a Chicago centered, Umphrey’s original was born. Next week the track officially hatches and we wanted you to be the first to know what’s coming.

Chicago is a little bit of everything you’ve come to expect from UM. A funky intro that pays homage to the Chicago’s early urban sound gives way to a feel great, head bobbin’ verse. The chorus warrants a gratuitous fist pumping as an anthemic tribute to Chitown ensues. It’s rooted in rock but laced with just enough pop to cast a wide net.  (The heavy metal version may not have played as well).

We’re honored and elated to be part of a project that gives back to Chicago, a city that has given us so much. We hope the song will take on a life of its own and become something bigger than any of us. If we can help turn on even a handful of new peeps to the gem that is Chicago, it will be a success.

The official launch is April 26th but check back soon because we don’t think we can wait that long. Thanks for being the best fans around. Your support allows us to continue to look outside of the box for new & interesting ideas like this. 

 

This City shines, There's no limit to how high

With no comparison don't try, Always a smile so come see why

Back flip for your extra

Ryan Stasik is in the people pleasing business. He rarely disappoints. 

Yup, more free music.

After a week of posts highlighting all things Raw Stewage, we figured it was only fitting to cap it off with a free tune for your weekend. Hope you don't mind. 

This version of Nemo has long been a favorite of mine. The improv in the middle of this feels like anything but improv, rather a well rehearsed, finely executed song of its own. But in classic Umphrey's fashion the basic chord progression was made up backstage two hours prior to show time & quickly rehearsed a grand total of once. The vocal stewart in the middle of this Nemo gets me every time. So add this one to your collection on us. Make sure to check out the complete Raw Stewage collection if you're hungry for more. 

-Kevin

 

Nemo 04.08.05 Murat Egyptian Room, Indianapolis, IN (10:18 Total Running Time)

Please help us spread this far & wide using the 'share' tab on the bottom of the widget. 


"The simple fact here still remains, we have no reason to complain"

 

 

Ocean William Comes of Age

Long form is the new black. Settle in for another great read.

Now that we've opened the whole "Jimmy Stewart" worm can over here at The Floor, I thought I'd take the opportunity to expand on the song creation potential contained within these nightly improvisational forays. This companion piece to UMcast #125 gives you a tour of one of the methods through which an UM tune might come together. Today's subject: the Evolution of Ocean Billy. 

It's a well known fact that Jake Cinninger has music running through his veins. Like many blessed/cursed with an inner muse: that hussy just won't shut up, providing a challenge to keep up with everything that pours out. Fortunately, multi-instrumentalist and 4-track guru, he can create fully arranged demos at will, with results varying from Liquid to Wizard Burial Ground.

Jake: Billy was conceived on my old cassette four track, in the basement of my W. Addison apt. in Chicago during Winter 2003. I was playing around with odd meter grooves that didn't feel too jagged. King Crimson ideology was an inspiration, but in a minimal sense.

Fripperies, indeed. The Ocean Billy demo is one of the many revealing tracks on The Bottom Half's disc 2. I love how after the thematic intro is established, he adds layer upon layer of guitar, up to 6 or 7 by the end. The ensuing two segments demonstrate just how scattershot his ideas can be in a short time span. It's likely he cooked all of that up in a day or two (while working on a few other pieces as well).

Next up, we've got the first live attempt at the demo that took place 3/29/03 at Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO. The first set featured a one-of-a-kind Jamie Janover guest spot in 40's Theme that gave rise to the famed "Zsa Zsa Gabor Fi Fi," plus one of my favorite Triple Wides opens the 2nd set. Towards the end of the show they get into "Jimmy Stewart" mode and see what they can create. Not only do we get the first appearance of Ocean Billy, but also the first appearance of the Wife Soup intro!

Though his freestyle rap career may never take off, Brendan has an equally unique talent of being able to channel his inner emotions, our inner emotions, stamp them with his melodic DNA and project them onto improvised music. His notebook of ideas can provide fodder for just that right moment in time when the band is locked in.

Local Band Does Oklahoma's Pennis is the nonsensical title given to the "Jimmy Stewart" with lyrics that's a darker, more explosive attempt at Jake's demo. I can't really make out what Brendan is saying, hell, I'd be surprised if he could. But that haunting melody is there...he captured the emotion of the music. Another piece of the puzzle...

The 9/4/03 Der Bluten Kat was one of those magical moments in UM history. I still recall driving back to Chicago after the show with @soundcaresser, we were both giddy and had to immediately listen to the tape (after which, we decompressed with some Buena Vista Social Club). Few Stewarts better exemplify spontaneous composition. You will recognize bits and pieces of these lyrics making the complete version.

The song was debuted, titleless (shocking, I know), on Halloween 2003. I chose the 2nd version from the following night, slightly improved, still a little raw and in progress. The post-song banter includes the titling and shows just how random the UM song naming process can be. On the other hand, the lyrics are very deliberate and have a serious meaning in regards to the band.

BB: I was trying to link the song with Jake's tune "Mulche's Odyssey" based on the "missed the boat" lyric. I'm not sure, but I thought he was referring to his efforts with Ali Baba's not panning out. This is also right around the time Kris was coming into the band and i felt like we "stole" him from his band Kick the Cat....so lyrically i thought about the making of a band, the breaking up of a band, how the whole thing works...."what's possible holds even more".

Little known fact...and one I'm sure Brendan will lament allowing me to post:

BB: At one point in this process I began to think we could link "mulche's", "billy" and "2x2", as they all dealt with the same subject matter. Then the grand vision of the rock opera popped up...we could write a few more songs about this and have a huge piece of music that would be linked thematically.

Alas, this never came to fruition. There have been many more songs written about the band...hell, I might contend pretty much all of them are, but that's for a future post.

You all know where the song grew from there...it slowly transformed into a jam vehicle. That original demo taken in two directions, a sparse dramatic intro, and the climactic, haunting crescendo, each a perfect bookend for sets and shows.

To round out this episode, we feature last month's monster version that took place in front of a sold-out Fillmore Auditorium in Denver. A quick jaunt down the road from Boulder, where it all began...

Outstanding versions on past UMcast episodes:
#30 - acoustic version from SIN release party at Park West
#44 - Ocean Billy > Blue Echo > Ocean Billy from epic 3 night Wisco run in 11/06
#117 - 42 minute Miami Virtue > Ocean Billy that captures a wide-spectrum of UM


Keep an eye out for more "Jimmy Stewart"/UMcast related posts and a new album in the near(ish) future... - @McL2016. Art by @wittybanterism

 

 

 

More Raw Stewage from your resident Consigliere

We are joined by another guest blogger this week, long time UM friend & trusted consigliere Syd Schwartz (@sydster) who speaks about the inception of UMBowl III's Quarter 4. 

I love a well constructed/well jammed long form piece of music, but length alone does not necessarily mean quality.  For instance, the Grateful Dead played a version of "Playin' in the Band" on 5/21/74 that ran nearly 47 minutes, but that performance is notable largely for its length as the quality throughout the jam is inconsistent (occasionally veering into snoozefest territory).  At the same time, two or more shorter pieces of music from different eras of a band can fit together to form a new composition as if it was always meant to be.  In fact two of my favorite Yes tracks, "Starship Trooper" and "Close to the Edge" were written by 3 different band members in the years before they became Yes, with new music and new lyrics created to join the sections into something that was bigger than the sum of its parts. 

This got me thinking about the possibilities using Jimmy Stewarts...what if UM took some fan favorites, some band favorites, and used them as the foundation for a long form piece, with new music that bridges the sections that would be both created in advance (where it made sense) and created on the spot during Q4--live in the moment in the truest essence of Jimmy Stewart.  I first broached the subject during Hauntlanta with Joel, and then Ryan...neither of them pelted me with rocks and garbage and seemed intrigued by the idea.  Encouraged by the initial interest, I looped @soundcaresser into the conversation and many discussions ensued such as these:

Brendan:  Syd. He doesn't even play an instrument! What the hell does he know about creating music?
Kevin: Would you rather play "Bob"?
Brendan: I'll get my Jimmy Stewart notebook.

Vince: Jake, what do you think about the idea of playing an all-Stewart quarter during the UMBowl?
Jake: Will I have to wear a hat?

Kris: Hey Joel, do you need a hand with that box?
Joel: No thanks Kris...when you get to be my age, a few extra Depends backstage are needed just in case the all-Stewart quarter makes me lose control of my bodily functions. Can't allow an unplanned Dump City to get in the way of a good face melting...now where did I put my AARP card?

Ryan: Epic. Confirmed.
Andy: The all-Stewart quarter?  I agree.
Ryan: No, I was looking at the photo of me wearing the banana hammock.

Brendan: I'd like bigger bread.
Nigel Tufnel: Write your own material.

And soon the band will find themselves locked in their secret underground rehearsal facility, armed with the ballot results, 2 terabytes of Stewart recordings and enough Fritos & Mountain Dew to choke Rosie O'Donnell. What will emerge? How will the pieces fit together? What will the new pieces sound like? And where might it all go once Q4 begins? Will this new piece have an official name? The answers to these questions and more are only weeks away... 

 

Syd Scwhartz is founder & CEO of Linchpin Digital, providing marketing & digital solutions for music, media & tehcnology industries. You can typically find him at his desk listening to aggressively loud prog rock while donning a cape. 

 

More Posts Next page »