Umphrey's Mc Gee

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Umphrey's Mc Gee

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After 16 years of performing over 100 concerts annually, releasing seven studio albums and selling more than 3.3 million tracks online, Umphrey’s McGee might be forgiven if they chose to rest on their laurels and attend to their lives as husbands and fathers. But you’d be wrong. With their eighth studio album, Similar Skin, and first for their own indie label, Nothing Too Fancy (N2F) Music (distributed by RED), the group – which formed on the Notre Dame campus outside of South Bend, Indiana in 1997 – has something to prove. And that’s not just to their ever-loyal fan base, but to those who have never heard a note, or worse – dismiss them as “too sophisticated, too complex” or think they know what Umphrey’s McGee is all about. More than an “improg” group, as some have dubbed them, Umphrey’s McGee have devoted their craft to making their devoted followers feel as if they are part of something larger, through fan-curated sets, which include the “Stew Art Series”. Named after the Jimmy Stewart Ballroom, where they first recorded some of their improvisations, they offer fans a chance to text them during an exclusive private performance with not only song selections, but spontaneous ideas of how to perform them. The band has also developed the immersive home audio offering, “Headphones & Snowcones,” where the pristine sound of the live soundboard mix is piped wirelessly through high-end personal monitor systems and headphones, leading the Chicago Tribute to note: “I heard rock ‘n’ roll’s future, and its name is ‘Headphones & Snowcones.’” Umphrey’s McGee also makes all their live shows from 2006 available via their live music portal UMLive.net. And, every spring since 2010, the band has performed a special UMBowl show, announced on the day of the Super Bowl, which this year will take place outside Chicago for the first time this May at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, in May. The idea is to divide the concert into four quarters, stringing together “All-Request,” “Stew Art,” “Choose Your Own Adventure” and “Raw Stewage” sets in rotating order each year. The UMBowl has a pilgrimage-worthy annual event for fans, and the press has taken notice. Wired said, “[UMBowl] gives Umphrey’s McGee a chance to show off its improvisatory skills…it brings the type of large-scale, smartphone powered interactive experience usually deployed in massive stadiums down to the club level.”

By: Ryman Auditorium

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