Words by: Pat Knibbs :: Images by Brett Saul

Bayliss and Cinninger's Annual Holiday Acoustic Show
12.15.06 :: Vic Theatre :: Chicago, IL

Cinninger & Bayliss :: 12.15
Beaming with holiday spirit, Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, both from Umphrey's McGee, returned to Chicago for their Annual Holiday Acoustic Show. With the proceeds from the event benefiting the USTORM Foundation, - an organization partly founded by Bayliss - the two six-string monsters played an extended set that featured numerous covers, holiday songs, and a handful of special guests.

With Umphrey's rise to fame over the last several years, many have seen what these two can do when armed with electric guitars. Here, their virtuosic skills were toned down a bit. The material didn't rely on the flashy solos or complex rhythmic structures associated with Umphrey's, but instead focused on the rich melodic textures of their acoustic instruments.

Cinninger & Bayliss :: 12.15
From the comfort of a big brown couch brought from backstage, Bayliss and Cinninger looked relaxed, and from the gear onstage it was evident that they were expecting some friends. A piano, congas, and a full drum kit were set up. The two explained the couch, saying, "Since we practiced on it, might as well play on it." They then opened with "In the Kitchen." After the song's infamous Chicago reference, a giant cheer emerged from the local audience, who remained surprisingly tame throughout the night. Evolving from "In the Kitchen" was the beautiful Bayliss/Jeff Austin (YMSB) song "Oh Susanna." Cinninger's accompanying guitar work complemented Bayliss' vocal melody perfectly as the tune flowed back to "In the Kitchen."

Cinninger, Bayliss, Farag, Myers :: 12.15
Once that extended jam concluded, the duo welcomed out the first of many special guests, fellow Umphrey's mates Andy Farag (percussion) and Kris Myers (drums), for a lively rendition of "Greensleeves." Near the end of the piece Joel Cummins (keyboards - UM) joined the quartet mid-jam and hung around for "Resolution" into "Memories of Home." With the addition of more instruments, Bayliss and Cinninger were able to explore quite a bit with their guitars, using the expanded landscapes as vehicles for concise, roughly structured improvisation.

Cummins, Cinninger, Bayliss, Farag, Myers :: 12.15
As the revolving door of musical friends kept moving, the two appeared to be enjoying themselves. After welcoming Barry Brown, a USTORM co-founder and keyboardist for Grateful Dead tribute band Jack Straw, out for a rollicking version of the Dead's "Sugaree," Bayliss moved to the piano for a solo version of Billy Joel's "I've Loved These Days." Cinninger and vocalist Michelle Hallman came out afterwards for "Bullhead City," one of the night's clear highlights. The tune from Anchor Drops was performed amazingly well. Hallman's pure, siren voice was heavenly, especially in conjunction with Cinninger's vocals and guitar.

Several more covers, a stellar version of "Great American," another special guest [Paris Delane], and happy birthday wishes for Cinninger wrapped up the special evening. Their five-song encore was just an added bonus. As a duo, Bayliss and Cinninger were very professional. Their musical kinship was apparent, but it was when they were accompanied by their fellow Umphrey's bandmates that something truly special emerged. It gave the unique Umphrey's McGee sound more depth and new perspective similar to the Grateful Dead's Reckoning or Nirvana's Unplugged in New York sets. More acoustic settings like this one in the future would be an interesting, appealing twist for the band.

JamBase | Chicago
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[Published on: 12/22/06]

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jackiesoup starstarstarstarstar Sat 12/23/2006 10:55AM
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I would've LOVED to have been there.
Bring that show to To-ron-to.
Happy holidays y'all.

Hug starstarstarstarstar Sun 12/24/2006 12:45PM
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Really want to hear this show! Anyone tape it?

Matthew Jaworski starstarstarstar Tue 12/26/2006 05:56AM
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Matthew Jaworski

UM is the truth.

TimCorcoran Wed 12/27/2006 05:00PM
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Barry Brown is an awsome muscian!!!

knibbs starstarstarstarstar Wed 12/27/2006 05:07PM
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I wish that "Monsters of six-strings" wasn't edited to read six string monsters, how's anyone going to see my Bears reference! Ah well hopfully this won't be my last review. Peace in 2007!

greycloud starstarstarstar Thu 12/28/2006 11:50AM
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Nice review. Chicago area folks get a lot of special performances from members of this excellent band--I'm quite jealous out here on the coast. Umphrey's McGee is one of the better bands to come along in years and these guys are a big reason. Amazingly talented guitarists, and no rock star egos. I'm very happy to see that they have the class to do performances such as these.


nfenne starstarstarstarstar Thu 12/28/2006 12:29PM
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Great review!

theivywall starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/29/2006 11:10PM
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This was a great show. Very surprised to see 5\6 of the band join in for a few laid back X-Mas jams. I'm pretty sure Stasik came on stage to give Brennan water but then left the stage just as quick. "We're going for a hanging out in some one's basement jamming in junior high atmosphere."-Brennan

knibbs starstarstarstarstar Sat 12/30/2006 12:17PM
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Hey thanks for the positive feedback-Merry New Years to everyone!

PS: If anybody's going to be at UM's NYE show tomorrow, please say hello! I'll be right up front in the press/photo section probably wearing my new Bears hat-go Bears! Of course I'll be working(for Homegrown Music Net), but will gladly share a NYE drink w/anyone willing to buy me one! Peace out from Chi!

JiveTurkeyMcButterpants starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/12/2007 07:47AM
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Nice review brother -- and the show was pretty hot, in a laid-back-garage-jam-type sence... the atmosphere was good and the crowd was chill, now all I need is for them to come on down to Florida - I know they'd rock out Janus Landing...
Peace and happy new year to all!

maxfreeride starstarstarstar Tue 1/16/2007 08:22PM
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this was one of the most memorable umphrey's shows ever. I was in awe, i felt like i was just hanging out with the guys. And i thank them for playing junk, a paul mccartney tune, and also for the set list hehe. and if anybody does have this on tape i would love it.