Band of the Boat:

Umphrey's McGee | Photo by Dave Vann

Hands down, the band of the boat was Umphrey's McGee. Coming off of the awful tragedy of their good friend, Brian Schultz, being killed by a drunk driver in Chicago on New Year's Eve, it was hard to say where the players' emotions would be when the band arrived on the boat. Would they want to purge their emotions with unfaltering rock 'n' roll or would they even want to be there? On the third night, when it was finally time for them to take the stage at midnight on the Lido deck, everyone - band and fans alike - were ready to unleash some serious Umph. With extreme professionalism, the band took the stage and ripped through two sets of their repertoire with only two covers (The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" and Talkin Heads' "Making Flippy Floppy"). A highlight of this first set was a "Push the Pig" sandwich with a "Jazz Odyssey" in the middle featuring the brilliant bass work of Nick Blasky of Ray's Music Exchange. However, Nick, a close friend of the band, was the only guest on this night. Umphrey's McGee had entered the bubble and did what needed to be done; IT ROCKED!

Joel Cummins and Robert Walter
Photo by Dave Vann

Umphrey's second performance, on the last night of the cruise, was star studded with other cruise characters including the amazing Jimmy Herring on guitar, the gorgeous Theresa Andersson on violin, Aron Magner on keys, Alan Hertz on drums, Robert Walter on keys, Mad Dog on trumpet, and the relative newbie, Brock Butler from Perpetual Groove on guitar (a personal highlight for me). There were more guests, and it seemed like everyone who walked by got their chance to rock with the boys. Good fun.

Biggest Legends on the Boat:

Jimmy Herring and Col. Bruce Hampton
Photo by Jon Bahr

In late 2004, the Aquarium Rescue Unit announced that it would return from its ten year hiatus for a few select shows in the Southeast. What a treat to have them on the boat - an original H.O.R.D.E. band back where this mayhem all started when jam bands didn't even exist! Each member - Col. Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, Count M'butu, and Jeff Sipe - is a legend in his own right and has gone on to do amazing things musically in the last decade.

Aquarium Rescue Unit
Photo by Jeremy Jones

Sharing the stage with a legend like Jimmy Herring was a great experience for Umphrey's McGee. Guitarist Jake Cinninger gushed that Jimmy is "just glowing with talent, musical vision, and kindness." He continued, "Jimmy seems to have the sound in his hands. He's one of those guys who can plug in to a $50 amp or a $5000 amp and it always sounds like Jimmy. His ability to be a chameleon guitarist is obvious by all the different hats he wears through his career. From swampy blues, Coltrane solo modulation, chord knowledge, and over all bad-assness, Jimmy Herring is a true musical gem."

Thanks for playing ARU!

Jimmy Herring with Eric Krasno | Photo by Jon Bahr

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