Monday, March 19, 2007

Umphrey's McGee

what to say about my week-long adventure with um...
it was like walking into a party where you are the
guest of honor
but no one informed you...
all the nicest people are there,
(about two thousand of them each night)
and they have this incredible band playing
which can only be described as
an ADD Jam Band on steroids,
(strange powerful of-the-moment improvisations
quickly intercut with odd time signature outbursts
hard on the heels of a perfectly executed classic beatle song!
followed by an irish jig?)
and then you realize you're on stage with them!
and the energy of two thousand 20-year-old kids
(the equivalent of 8,000 five-year-olds)
screaming at you!

most of the kids had at best a vague idea or none
as to who the strange older guy with the glowing tangerine
guitar was and fewer still had any idea of his history (yawn...)
but nonetheless I played for them and they screamed back
an explosion of appreciative frenzy.

next thing I knew I was on a tour bus full of the same people
drinking joking smoking eating playing loud music
through a volcano of some sort.
and this movable feast lasted into the night until the next city.
12 men in a bus.

the um production team (kevin, adam, bob, robbie, don, vince)
made the perfect compliment to the band.
as though they all went to school at notre dame or something.
hey wait...they did!
that would explain the biggest of the four nights:
Saint Paddy's Day in South Bend, Indiana.
home of the Fighting Irish!

by that point I felt like an old comfortable shoe
with jake, joel, kris, andy, brendan, and ryan:
such cool people, like a coca cola with lots of ice.
and terrific players.

then an aftershow bash just in time to meet
their fathers mothers grandparents uncles girlfriends college buddies,
and two old carpet salesmen who just happened to wander in.

what a beautiful thing it was!
let's do it some more.


  1. Adrian,

    Not everyone in the audience was 20 years old and had little idea who you were. Hey, between my husband and me, we were the energy equivalent of 16 five-year-olds all by ourselves! And we came because of you. I loved the show and had a great time. See you in May at Blueberry Hill.

    Rhea and Roy
    The happy (old) people in the front row

  2. Adrian,

    I think you would be surprised how many of the UM fan base went to see these shows JUST BECAUSE you were there. I have long been a fan of your work with the Trio, older stuff in Crim, your time with the Heads, and your various sit-ins with some AMAZING artists. It was my pleasure watching you learn, grow, and contribute to 4 nights of fun and great great music.

    It was also a pleasure to meet some of your fans (which made for an interesting mix of older and younger folks.) who all seemed to, for the most part, enjoy Umphrey's and what they brought to the table.

    I hope to see you again, with the band, as a guest spot on an album or just cause you've come to chicago with the Trio. It's always a pleasure to see such excellent musicianship.


  3. Adrian - I'm glad to hear you had as great a time as the fans did! I'm new here, but I've already become fascinated with your blog and the stories it contains.

    I can see you are a very modest guy, but I think you've very much overlooked how much chatter there was on the UM fan message boards in the weeks leading up to your appearances with the band. The UM scene is full of people with musical knowledge coming out their ears (although I myself am not one of these), and these people were very vocal about how awesome the shows with you were going to be.

    Me and a friend made the 5 hour drive to Detroit simply because we wanted to see another show with you. I know you brought plenty of others who otherwise may not have come.

    Thanks for making the weekend spectacular! I can assure you that the UM fanbase would be ecstatic to hear you were coming around for another minitour one day.

  4. You talked a while back about making money from music, and how you hadn't seen a cent from iTunes, and I was thinking about how much I like that aspect of the internet, that artists can contact many people directly - and really, it's valued added, we get to hear your voice and feel more connected to the art we love. My friend Jim Woodring has a blog now, and I met Bruce Bickford at his house at Halloween - I think someone is helping Bruce get set up with a computer, he's not really a high tech kind of guy. Anyway, you must read David Byrne's blog (duh!) but here is a link to a little bit of talk about distribution.

    Ha, I played Elephant Talk for my 12-year-old son the other day. :)

  5. i like um

    i'm sure i've heard their name mentioned before, but never really sat up and listened to them.
    now that i've checked out the ump3's (wow), i left their website with an order of music and joyful anticipation of hearing more.
    they are in madison, wisconsin tonight.
    a little too soon for me to make it to this one, but already looking forward to future shows - hopefully with you as honorable guest again.

  6. it was eye-opening for me to see a college audience enjoying radical music. I love the way UM music changes shape so quickly and often (ADD music) and was impressed not only with their individual abilities (all superb players) but also with their group work ethic. (they know 300 songs!) they set up a small practice area for the whole band backstage and play together before each set. onstage they have talkback mics so they can communicate with each other without the audience hearing. what a great idea.
    everyone treated me like the king of crimson, which isn't always the case. I responded by sharpening my wit, re-telling my best road tales, and generally joining in on the fun as one of the guys. there is talk of doing more together (possibly a bill-sharing with the AB power trio.) I hope it goes well beyond talk.

  7. Adrian...i was just remembering the your of the midwest with you and it brought a smile to my face...i was not only honored to share the stage with you and play music together, but i thank you more for the friendship, laughs, and vodka garlic potatoes...hopefully we will be smiling, laughing, and jamming together again soon....take care friend....Ryan Stasik