In 1997, members from two popular Notre Dame University bands explored their inner Jam children, concocting a new entity dubbed Umphrey’s McGee.
Although UM quacked like a Jam duck (two nightly sets, extended improv noodling, open taping policy), they incorporated more Prog, Metal and Hard Rock influences than their gentler brethren, expanding the Jam palette considerably. Before the original quartet (guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss, keyboardist/vocalist Joel Cummins, bassist Ryan Stasik, drummer Mike Mirro) celebrated its first anniversary, the band released its cheekily titled debut, Greatest Hits Vol. III; like any self-respecting Jam outfit, UM’s 1999 sophomore album, Songs for Older Women (featuring new percussionist Andy Farag), was a live recording.
The 2000 addition of guitarist/vocalist Jake Cinninger led to a heavier Prog sound, but UM nearly dissolved two years later when original drummer Mike Mirro departed for medical school. But the buzz from 2002’s Local Band Does OK and UM’s electrifying appearance at the inaugural Bonnaroo festival kept the group together long enough to find Kick the Cat drummer Kris Myers and push forward.
In recent years, UM’s Prog leanings have expanded in the studio (2004’s Anchor Drops, 2009’s Mantis). The band also showed it could dial things back for the acoustic quietude of 2006’s Safety in Numbers. UM won a Jammy Award for 2007’s Live at the Murat, while last year’s Death By Stereo mixed new, original songs and re-recorded faves.
UMPHREY'S MCGEE performs Wednesday, July 4 at Coney Island's Moonlite Gardens in California with guest G. Love. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.