Phil Lesh Friends We'd Like To See | Jake Cinninger

Ever since Furthur revealed they will take a hiatus for most of 2014, we've been pondering the future for members of the band. We're hopeful Joe Russo re- teams with Marco Benevento for a batch of Benevento-Russo Duo gigs in 2014 and Les Claypool broke the news that Bob Weir plans to tour with RatDog so we know what he'll be up to with Jeff Chimenti. What about Phil Lesh? Earlier this week he revealed he won't be touring in 2014, but that he'll play at his Terrapin Crossroads venues and inferred he'll play a number of residencies with Phil & Friends. With that in mind we wanted to point out a few potential Phil Lesh friends over the next few months.

[Photo by Susan Weiand]

We started with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and followed with Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. Next up is guitarist Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee. Jaco once remarked, “Whenever I pick up my guitar, Jerry’s touch to the instrument comes to mind. The delicate nature of his playing always helps me relax when I start digging into my axe too hard. His incredibly clean and ringing tones are an inspiration for clarity and simplicity. Jerry is one of my favorite guitarists because he could hodge- podge so many styles effortlessly; he will forever have his musical fingerprint on my playing.”

When this column was launched, Cinninger was the first person that came to my mind, not just because of his virtuoso-level skills on the guitar, but also for the often-overlooked other powerful instrument in his arsenal - his voice. Though vocal contributions to his originals can often be on the goofier side (examples: "40's Theme," "Mulche's Odyssey"), Jake also possesses a more serious tone to his vocals as displayed in originals such as "Passing" or "Memories of Home." He can also blow the doors off a classic rock cover as is evidenced by his lead vocal duties on Umphrey's versions of Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See" and The Who's "Eminence Front."

Phil and Jake have crossed musical paths twice thus far. Lesh joined UM on stage at their show on October 22, 2004 at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall for a performance of "Franklin's Tower." UM would once again welcome Phil for "Franklin's" four months later when they opened for Phil & Friends on February 12, 2005 (a Mardi Gras show) at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, again in San Francisco, but this time Phil would also take over bass duties for UM original "Partyin' Peeps."

Audio from 2-12-2005

In more recent history, UM played "Help On The Way > Slipknot!" twice in 2012, but neither time did "Franklin's Tower" follow, but rather Tool's "Forty Six & 2" on April 27, 2012 and the Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica" on Halloween. Cinninger has also snuck a verse of "Crazy Fingers" into UM sets, once in 2008 and again in 2009.

Written By: David Onigman

[Published on: 10/24/13]

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