‘Reel To Real’ Impact: Umphrey’s McGee & Mountain Hardwear Support Conscious Alliance

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On New Year’s Day, Umphrey’s McGee hosted their first-ever Reel To Real film premiere and live concert event at The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver as a benefit for Conscious Alliance. With yet another unique departure from the usual concert-going experience, Umphrey’s McGee continues to re-define the relationship between an artist and their fans, and further displayed their creativity in aligning themselves with like-minded partners to achieve a common goal.

Check out our review and photos of the Reel To Real event here and watch a recap video below.

“Our philosophy is driven by the desire to create events that we’d want to attend as music fans and more broadly, as human beings. Experiences that bring people together to celebrate art, friendships and community motivate us to do what we do. Anytime we can do that while also raising money to benefit those most in need, it’s a win win.” – Kevin Browning, Umphrey’s McGee Management

Through ticket sales for Reel To Real, and with the support of Mountain Hardwear and JamBase – who sponsored a raffle, silent auction and photo booth during the event – Umphrey’s McGee was able to donate $11,300 to Conscious Alliance with proceeds from the evening.

Since 2002, the Boulder-based nonprofit Conscious Alliance has partnered with artists such as Phish, The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, STS9, Dave Matthews Band, Big Gigantic and more to raise food and funds for communities in crisis. Conscious Alliance hosts their now-familiar “Art That Feeds” food drives at concerts and festivals nationwide, where participants who make a suggested donation of non-perishable food items (or a recommended monetary donation), receive a poster created by an established artist specifically for each event.

For R2R, Conscious Alliance returned to the location of their very first food drive – over a decade later – to partner once again with Umphrey’s McGee, whose fans have a strong track record of stepping up to support a good cause.

“Umphrey’s McGee and their management have been incredibly supportive of Conscious Alliance since the very beginning, and it’s great to be back with them here at the Fillmore in Denver. Our goal is really to help produce events that benefit the organization, and are also an intimate and personal experience for the fans and artists to be able to connect. Tonight we’re excited to be able to connect bands, brands and fans to fight hunger and empower youth nationwide”. – Justin Levy, Conscious Alliance

With the healthy ticket price that traditionally accompanies a benefit show – which also included a limited edition event poster and open bar – and UM’s history of delivering memorable experiences in return for their fans’ support (and financial investment), those in attendance for Reel To Real knew they were in for a special evening.

Upon entering the Fillmore, one couldn’t help but be struck by the unique layout of the venue, as compared to a “normal” concert. The first thing that demanded your attention was the enormous Mountain Hardwear Base Camp, stationed toward the back of the floor beneath the first set of purple chandeliers. Here, attendees could explore the inside of an Expedition tent, get their photos taken with a variety of props and immediately receive the prints. Moving forward toward the soundboard, fans were greeted by chairs with gift bags for the seated film-viewing portion of the evening. There was also a relatively small space between the seats and the stage reserved for dancing once the film was over and the live music commenced. With a severely limited capacity, the room was laid out for an intimate experience, and the energy among the fans was palpable, even as they recovered from their New Year’s Eve celebrations the night before.

Along one side of the venue, the band held a raffle and silent auction, with the famed Fillmore photo gallery serving as backdrop. Over $1,000 in Mountain Hardwear gear was raffled away, along with signed UM memorabilia and concert photos. Fans milled about between the various interactive areas — getting popcorn, sharing their favorite Umphrey’s memories, collecting event posters, hitting the open bar and chatting with members of the band themselves — while many explored the items available in the raffle and silent auction, hoping to win prizes while helping out the cause. Additionally, JamBase selected one lucky contest winner who received a pair of tickets to the event and a MHW sleeping bag, and Mountain Hardwear hosted guests from Vail Resorts and Retail to join in the festivities.

We are extremely honored and very humbled to have been invited to lend a hand for this great cause and are looking forward to future partnerships in 2016. For us at Green River Sales (via Mountain Hardwear), to be able to do good, while getting the opportunity to partner with our friends from these great organizations, is a dream come true.” – John McDonnell of Green River Sales, Representing Mountain Hardwear in the Rockies

2015 was a banner year for Conscious Alliance in which they reached the impressive milestone of collecting and distributing over two million meals since launching in 2002, including preparing 200,000 meals of donated food in the last year alone. In addition, donors – including the likes of the Grateful Dead, Electric Forest Festival and countless individuals — helped the organization commit more than $1 million worth of goods and services to projects in 2015, directly assisting the communities it serves. Last year also marked the launch of Conscious Alliance’s “Bring Nutrition Home” weekend backpack program on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, one of the nation’s most economically isolated communities.

With such an original and successful event like Reel To Real to kick things off, 2016 is off to an auspicious start for both Umphrey’s McGee and Conscious Alliance. And by partnering with artists like UM, who regularly demonstrate a strong commitment to creative philanthropy, Conscious Alliance is sure to continue making a positive contribution to the live music scene, and most importantly, to the communities most in need.

Reel To Real will make its New York City premiere with a matinee screening scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday, January 23 at SVA Theatre in Chelsea The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Jefferson Waful, creator Kevin Browning and members of UM. Tickets can be purchased via this link.