About Umphrey's McGee
Umphrey's McGee is an American jam band originally from South Bend, Indiana. The band experiments with many musical styles, including rock, metal, funk, jazz, blues, reggae, electronic, and folk. They have toured regularly and released several albums.
Formed by students at the University of Notre Dame in December 1997, members were guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss, bassist Ryan Stasik, keyboardist Joel Cummins, and drummer Mike Mirro. Umphrey's McGee combined members of Tashi Station and Stomper Bob, two Notre Dame rock bands. Early concerts consisted of both originals and cover songs, including Guns N' Roses' "Patience" and Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts theme "Linus and Lucy," as well as songs by Phish, moe., and Grateful Dead.
According to Cummins, "The origins are of an actual person. Brendan Bayliss, our other lead singer and guitar player has a cousin ... and his name is actually Humphrey Magee but it's not possessive with the apostrophe s ..."
In mid-1998, after 8 months together, the band released their debut album, Greatest Hits Vol. III. Having a released studio disc allowed them to more readily book live performances. Though long out of print, the album contains songs that remain staples of Umphrey's live sets, such as "Divisions", "Phil's Farm", "FF", and "All in Time".
Shortly after the release of the album, the band added a fifth member, percussionist Andy Farag. Farag's father became the band's agent. A second pressing of Greatest Hits Vol. III featured Farag in the album's inner sleeve and credits. By the end of the year, Umphrey's McGee, along with peers Ali Baba's Tahini, were one of the most popular bands in the South Bend/Notre Dame area. They began performing outside the area at colleges and house parties, allowing listeners to tape and trade their music freely. In 1998, the band released their first live album, Songs for Older Women.
Guitarist Jake Cinninger was added to the band in September 2000. Cinninger deepened the Umphrey's sound, and also contributed a large repertoire of original music, much of which comprised the bulk of the catalog from his previous band, Ali Baba's Tahini. The band also adopted several songs written by Karl Engelmann, Ali Baba's Tahini frontman. . Shortly after Cinninger's arrival, the band released another live album, One Fat Sucka, which contained live performances recorded in the summer and fall of 2000.
In 2001, the band began practicing intense improvisational exercises. One of their first productive sessions took place in the "Jimmy Stewart Ballroom" of a hotel, prompting the band to call their onstage improvisational excursions "Jimmy Stewarts". This form of improvisation differs in approach from the methods used by many of their jam band peers.
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