12-Year-Old Pianist Plays Impromptu Show For Umphrey’s Fans

By Scott Bernstein Jan 27, 2016 11:19 am PST

Adjacent to the Beacon Theatre, New York City’s Hotel Beacon hosted many Umphrey’s McGee fans over the weekend as the band was in town for a three-night stand at the storied venue. Unfortunately Winter Storm Jonas led to the cancellation of Saturday’s finale, but thankfully UM fans at the Hotel Beacon weren’t lacking for music thanks to the efforts of 12-year-old pianist Owen York.

The talented York, who I profiled three years back when he dropped a stellar 20-song medley, treated dozens of fans from as far as California, Colorado and Missouri to a performance featuring covers of Umphrey’s McGee, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Ween and more as the snow fell in NYC. Word spread of the performance and soon the hotel’s lobby was filled with revelers. York took requests from the growing crowd including songs he had played earlier for just a handful of those who happened to be present when Owen sat down at the hotel’s piano.

Umphrey’s McGee Lighting Designer Jefferson Waful was on hand at the Hotel Beacon. “It was a magical scene. The bar was filled with Umphrey’s fans who suddenly had no plan for the rest of their Saturday as an insane amount of snow continued to pile up on an empty Broadway outside the window. I was sitting on the other side of the room when I heard the first notes of ‘Plunger.’ I couldn’t see who was playing, but my initial reaction was that it was one of our band members. When I eventually made my way over, I was shocked to find that a little boy was the source of our entertainment,” Waful said of what he saw.

Watch a short video from the performance captured by Waful:


The members of UM are familiar with Owen’s handiwork and spent time with the youngster before a show in Albany, New York last year. York is a pianist in the Rockland Youth Jazz Ensemble, the youngest member of this elite 10-piece band consisting mainly of high school students from New York and New Jersey. Here’s the setlist from Saturday’s impromptu performance:

Set One: August, Cut the Cable > Andy’s Last Beer, All In Time, Cemetery Walk 1, Wappy Sprayberry, Bad Friday, Spain (Chick Corea), Plunger, Bodhisattva (Steely Dan), Space Oddity (Bowie), Mr. PC (Coltrane), Ringo, Ocean Billy, Do It Again (Steely Dan), Domino Theory, Booth Love, Wolfman’s Brother, Glory, Miss Tinkle’s Overture, Alex’s House > Pay the Snucka, Phil’s Farm, Wife Soup, Mantis

Set Two: Higgins, 2×2, Bright Lights, Puppet String, Plunger Reprise, Home At Last (Steely Dan), Wellwishers, JaJunk, Deeper, Hajimemashite, Bathtub Gin, Miami Virtue, Intentions Clear, Bad Friday (by request), Andy’s Last Beer (request), Ocean Billy (by request), Cut The Cable (request), Booth Love (request), Atmosfarag, Miss Tinkle’s Overture, All In Time, Mantis (with crowd singing), Divisions, Plunger Reprise, Search 4, Reelin In The Years, Shakedown Street, Down With Disease, Push Th’ Little Daisies (Ween), Bathtub Gin reprise, Fool in the Rain (Led Zeppelin), Clint Eastwood (Gorillaz), Kid Charlemagne (Steely Dan), 1348, Bridgeless, N2F, Buddy Holly (Weezer)

Check out Owen’s version of UM original “Atmosfarag”:

In other Umphrey’s McGee news, the band has announced webcasts of 15 upcoming shows. The webcasts are available for purchase via TourGigs.com and include a run of four shows with saxophonist Joshua Redman that starts tonight in Cleveland and continues with a pair of performances in Madison on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s Redman finale in Kalamazoo. Note that tomorrow’s show in Madison will feature an entire set of improv. Webcasts of the band’s visits to New Haven, Portland, Providence, Albany, Jim Thorpe, Washington DC, Richmond, Columbia and Asheville are also available for purchase at TourGigs.com as is a 15-show Tour Pass. Those purchasing the Tour Pass will have replay and on-demand access to each webcast shortly after each show.

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