Umphrey's McGee

Umphrey's McGee - Safety In Numbers

While displaying the precision rock aptitude that is the touchstone of their sound, Umphrey’s McGee’s Safety In Numbers delves into highly personal songwriting and diverse structures. From the foreboding "Believe the Lie" kickstart to the dramatic "Words," the joyous "Women Wine and Song," and the wistful "The Weight Around" ending, this is a showcase of Umphrey's McGee's myriad abilities as well as a highly emotional experience.

Umphrey's McGee - Wrapped Around Chicago: New Years at the Riv DVD

Let’s face it. In this modern indie world where geekfreak is the new cool, Umphrey’s McGee are nowhere near it. Their wholesome, Midwestern good looks and guitarist Brendan Bayliss’s habitually backwards baseball cap place them somewhere between dork and normal on the image scale, and their sense of humor is far too cheeky to pass any hipster litmus test. By traditional rock and roll rules, only the fans are allowed the gratuitous “fuck yeah!” that Brendan Bayliss belts out after the ceiling falls through their New Year’s celebration on Wrapped Around Chicago, and the band’s first set New Year’s suits reach a little too desperately for irony. So if Umphrey’s McGee is so uncool, how does one explain the UM afroman tattoo that practically swallows the shoulder of some young man hamming it up for the camera during the first set?

Up All Night: Jammin' to The Talking Heads

One must approach Tribute CDs with extreme levels of caution. There is perhaps no more dangerous bridge to cross as a music buyer. Sometimes it works out OK - pleasant enough jazz and bluegrass tributes have been produced – but it always threatens to wander into the realm of pointlessness. Is there really an audience for A String Quartet Tribute To The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Dub Tribute To Limp Bizkit? What niche of music lovers is so refined and unknown that it deserves A Rockabilly Tribute To AC/DC? It’s hard to take these tributes seriously sometimes, but that’s OK. I like to think that the musicians and producers and listeners aren’t looking for a galvanizing experience, but maybe to witness the whimsical oddity of, say, Coldplay performed bluegrass-style.

Jam Cam Chronicles - All Good 2004

I had the pleasure of attending All Good Music Festival at Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia in July of 2004. It was a weekend I will remember forever. I got the opportunity to watch as Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon jammed backstage to and with anyone that would play or listen. I also sat and enjoyed my coffee the next morning as Jon Fishman of Phish and Jazz Mandolin Project recounted a trip to Hawaii in which he peered through a healing fountain’s waters giving him momentary 20/20 vision. Needless to say, when I found a copy of the All Good DVD in my mailbox this past fall I was more than anxious to relive moments from one of my favorite festivals of the year.

Umphrey's McGee - Live From the Lake Coast

Up until a few weeks ago, I was not very familiar with Umphrey’s McGee. I knew they were an “up-and-coming” band who occasionally showcased twinges of rock, jazz improvisation, heavy metal, and rap (all of this without actually hearing a single one of their songs). After viewing their first live DVD release, “Live From the Lake Coast,” I realized that Umphrey’s McGee is the real deal. They are a powerful, poignant, and idiosyncratic group of musicians who aren’t afraid to groove.


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