Chicago’s very own Umphrey's McGee has been relentlessly touring the country in 2001, bringing their multi-genre roller-coaster live show coast to coast. This past summer, Umphrey's hit the West Coast for the first time with a great response from new fans who were introduced to the sounds of Midwest boys' original jam-funk-rock-fusion. This past September, Umphrey's McGee toured the East Coast, meeting up with the New York band Topaz for a show at Haverford College in Haverford Pennsylvania on September 18, 2001. During the 1st set of the show, Umphrey’s was joined by Topaz on saxophone and Squantch on trombone for a version of Donald Byrd’s “The Emperor.” To begin the second set, Topaz rejoined the Umphrey’s boys for a free form jam which lead into a ripping version of the Meters' classic “Cissy Strut,” with members of Umphrey’s and Topaz trading off solos, each one more intense than the next.

Back home in the Midwest, Umphrey's head to Cleveland, OH on October 11 for their first performance in the city of Rock N' Roll, joined at Peabody's by The New Deal. After a 90 minute high-energy dance party set from the Canadian Trio, Umphrey’s took the stage, but it wasn’t too long until The New Deal’s Jamie Shields was on board to join keyboardist Joel Cummins and the band on keys for a trance-funk jam in the middle of the Umphrey’s original tune “Nothin’ Too Fancy.” With the trademark New Deal sound added to Umphrey’s melodic buffet, the Cleveland crowd was treated to a 10 minute collaborative jam that is a must-hear for you live-show collectors.

The next night, at Camp Buzz near Oxford, Ohio, the rain came down, but it didn't dampen the music that poured from the dry confines of The Boogie Barn. Playing one long set, Umphrey’s was joined by friends from Ray's Music Exchange, for a 20-minute instrument-switching jam. Brad Myers (RME) played Jake Cinninger’s (UM) guitar, while Jake moved from drums to percussion and keys. Umphrey’s drummer Mike Mirro also joined on keys for a while, while Nick Blasky (RME) joined on bass and former Ray’s drummer Jason Smart slid in behind the drum kit. Another must hear!

Back in their home state of Illinois, Umphrey's McGee made their way back to Otto's in DeKalb, IL, meeting up with Garaj Mahal, who started the show. Having already jammed in the past with three of the four members of Garaj, collaboration was bound to happen. During the beginning of the 1st set, guitar-guru Fareed Haque sat in on the Frank Zappa song “Willie the Pimp,” trading ripping guitar solos with guitarists Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss. Further on in the show, Eric Levy got behind the keys during a rendition of Chick Corea's “Spain,” and Alan Hertz also made way to the stage for a four person drum-jam, with Cinninger and Umphrey's drummer Mike Mirro sharing the kit, and Hertz and Umphrey's Andy Farag sharing the percussion.

Umphrey's McGee will be in a town near you soon. With plans for a South East tour for early 2002, and West Coast and East Coast tours planned as well, be sure to catch these guys, as you never know who may end up on stage!

For more information on Umphrey’s, check out their website at

W. Willis
JamBase Correspondent
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 10/19/01]

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