Umphrey's McGee

The music of Umphrey’s McGee unfolds like an unpredictable conversation between longtime friends. Its six
participants—Brendan Bayliss [guitar, vocals], Jake Cinninger [guitar, vocals], Joel Cummins [keyboards, piano,
vocals], Andy Farag [percussion], Kris Myers [drums, vocals], and Ryan Stasik [bass]—know just how to
communicate with each other on stage and in the studio. A call of progressive guitar wizardry might elicit a
response of soft acoustic balladry, or a funk groove could be answered by explosive percussion. At any moment,
heavy guitars can give way to heavier blues as the boys uncover the elusive nexus between jaw-dropping
instrumental virtuosity and airtight songcraft.
The conversation continues on their eleventh full-length album, it’s not us [Nothing Too Fancy Music]—out January
12, 2018.
“It represents the band, because it basically runs the gamut from prog rock to dance,” says Brendan. “We’ve
mastered our ADD here. The record really shows that.”
“No matter what you’re into, there’s something on it’s not us that should speak to you,” agrees Joel. “This is a
statement album for Umphrey’s McGee. The sound is as fresh as ever. The songs are strong as they’ve ever been.
We’re always pushing forward.”
It is also how the band is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. Instead of retreading the catalog, they turn up with a
pile of new tunes.
“It’d be easy to play the hits from our first five or ten years,” continues Joel. “We’ve never been a band to rest on
our laurels though. New music is key to our continued development. We’re known as a strong live band, but we
take so much pride in our writing. This album distinguishes us because the focus is on that writing.”
Appropriately, this idea gestated on a sunny May afternoon at Wrigley Field. Six months before The Cubs won their
first World Series since 1908, Brendan took in a game on a rare day off.
“I can pinpoint the actual a-ha moment,” Brendan goes on. “My wife was out. My kids were at daycare. I walked to
Wrigley, bought a standing room ticket, and enjoyed the game. Halfway through it, I thought to myself, ‘If we can
get into the studio by the end of the year, we can have a brand new record.’ That’s where it all started.”
Bringing things full circle, Umphrey’s McGee entered I.V. Labs Studio in Chicago ready (and maybe a little
hungover) a week after that historic game seven. For the first time since recording Local Band Does O.K. in 2002,
five of the six members roomed together in a rental condo with Brendan staying a stone’s throw away at home.
“We would wake up, bounce ideas off each other, and go to the studio together,” recalls Joel. “We did all of this as a
unit. There was something really special about our group ethos coming together for this project. We decided to go
in for a week, live, eat, and breathe Umphrey’s McGee. It’s the most fun we’ve had in the studio. It really was a blast.
Having that camaraderie was really cool.”
That camaraderie shines through in their inimitable interplay, which finds them at the pinnacle of their craft and
groove as a band. That chemistry defines the approach—which sees Umphrey’s McGee hone their songwriting to
its sharpest point to date.
“I feel like we’re getting better and better at writing succinct, concise musical pieces,” Brendan elaborates. “When
we started out, we were trying to figure out how to fill time. We didn’t have much of a catalog, so we had to extend
things and repeat parts in order to make up space. Since our catalog is so big now, we don’t feel the need to make
everything ten minutes long. We’ve really trimmed the fat. Everything seems to be the right length.”
It is definitely the case with the first single “The Silent Type.” Powered by a bombastic beat, funkified rhythms,
fiery fretwork, and a chantable refrain, this anthem introduces it’s not us with a bright and brilliant bang.
“It’s super simple,” explains Brendan. “This character is in the wrong place at the wrong time making the wrong
decisions. Everybody has to deal with temptation. That’s a part of life. This guy goes out, and he blows it after a girl
offers him a cigarette. You see it all the time.”
“Half Delayed” builds from airy guitar into an iridescent refrain that serves as “a reminder to stop and smell the
roses.” Meanwhile, the bass strut, anthemic beat production, and percussive wallop of “Looks” could be the love
child of Nine Inch Nails and Talking Heads. Then, the metallic shredfest outro of “Remind Me” bleeds effortlessly
into the gorgeous acoustic love song “You & You Alone.”
“We called the record it’s not us, because it’s really not about us,” adds Joel. “This is for the fans.”
Over 2,200 gigs and 5 million tracks sold later, they’ve enjoyed countless milestones. 2002 saw them perform at
the first-ever Bonnaroo and sell more CDs than any other act on the bill. They became the “first group to launch its
own single artist streaming service” with UMLive.net, which houses recordings of every gig since 2005. The service
has since grown and now lives on through Nugs.net, which is used by the likes of Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and
more. They recorded ten tracks in one day at Abbey Road for The London Session in 2015. Notably, 2016’s ZONKEY
mashed-up the strangest of bedfellows into a critically acclaimed collection that unites Radiohead and Beck, The
Weeknd and Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads and Bob Marley, Metallica and Gorillaz, and more.
That adventurousness extends to their legendary audience immersion experiences. From their initial bar gigs in
1998 to three-nights playing to packed crowds at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2017, the group have
simultaneously remained intensely committed to their fans. Beyond intimate backstage encounters and ski trips
with their most diehard fans, Umphrey’s McGee instituted the groundbreaking “Headphones & Snowcones”
program, granting fans access to professional headphones and a soundboard-quality mix at shows. At their
UMBowl, they empowered the audience to vote on the setlist in real-time and choose favorite improv themes via
text message. In 2017, they stepped into another realm altogether by integrating themselves into the VR Platform
Endless Riff.
With the album on the horizon, a headline tour and a three-night Beacon Theatre residency in NYC plotted to
celebrate the anniversary in January, it’s not us kicks off a new era for Umphrey’s McGee and their ever-growing
audience.
“There’s something uniquely Umphrey’s McGee that could never be mistaken for another band,” Joel concludes. “I
hope it makes people think a little bit or shed a tear or two. Maybe, you smile or laugh. Life is hard. We still believe
music can heal and motivate.”
“We’re here,” Brendan leaves off. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re starting to find our identity. I think if you give
it a chance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Southern Avenue is a Memphis street that runs from the easternmost part of the city limits all the way to Soulsville, the original home of Stax Records. Southern Avenue is also the name of a fiery young Memphis quintet that embodies its home city's soul, blues and gospel traditions, while adding a youthful spirit and dynamic energy all their own. "If Memphis music is a genre, this is it!" proclaims American Blues Scene, and Rock 103FM calls Southern Avenue, "The most-talked-about band in Memphis."

Their self-titled debut album is a breath of fresh air with its own unique blend of gospel- tinged R&B vocals, roots/blues-based guitar work and soul-inspired songwriting. And Southern Avenue’s upcoming release on the fabled Stax label is a testament to the young combo's talent and vision.

Southern Avenue features five young but seasoned musicians who came from diverse musical and personal backgrounds to create music that spans their wide-ranging musical interests, while showcasing the powerful chemistry that the group has honed through stage and studio experience.

Southern Avenue encompasses Memphis-born, church-bred sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson, respectively a soulful, charismatic singer and a subtle, powerful drummer; guitarist Ori Naftaly, an Israeli-born blues disciple who first came to America as an acclaimed solo artist; versatile jazz-inspired bassist Daniel McKee; and the band's newest addition, keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax's legendary music academy.

The band members' diverse skills come together organically on Southern Avenue, scheduled for release on February 24, 2017 via Stax Records, a division of Concord Music Group. Produced by Kevin Houston (North Mississippi Allstars, Lucero, Patty Griffin), the 10-song album features guest appearances from Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and trumpeter Marc Franklin of the Bo-Keys. But it's Southern Avenue's own potent musical chemistry that drives such sublimely soulful originals as "Don't Give Up," "What Did I Do," "It's Gonna Be Alright," "Love Me Right" and "Wildflower." The band also pays tribute to its roots with an incandescent reading of Ann Peebles' Memphis soul classic "Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love."

The seeds for Southern Avenue's birth were planted when Ori Naftaly, who'd grown up in Israel with a deeply rooted passion for American blues and funk, came to Memphis in 2013 to compete in the prestigious International Blues Challenge. That experience led to Naftaly moving permanently to Memphis and successfully touring the United States with his own band.

Although his talents were embraced by American audiences, Naftaly felt constrained in his own band, feeling the need to include a more expansive, collaborative musical vision. That opportunity arrived when he met Memphis native Tierinii Jackson, who'd gotten her start singing in church, before performing in a series of cover bands and theatrical projects.

According to Ori, "When I saw Tierinii perform, I thought, 'This is why I came to America.' I met her and we clicked. At our first rehearsal, she told me that her sister was a drummer, and she thought it would be great to have her in the band. We had such a good vibe, and suddenly I didn't care so much about my solo thing."

"I initially clicked with Ori really well, but it was his project," Tierinii remembers. "Then he came to me and said 'I want this band to be a collaboration, I want this to be our vision and our music.' So we started writing together, and that's when I realized that we were really the same, musically."

"We started over," Naftaly continues. "We threw out most of the songs I'd been playing in my solo band, and Tierinii and I wrote a whole new set, and we became Southern Avenue. The more we played together, the closer we got, and the more we became a family. We started getting a different kind of crowd, and from there things escalated quickly."

"Ori said, 'My band is done, this is y'all's band,'" Tierinii recalls. "We all quit our other gigs and started focusing on this, working and writing and living together in a way that you don't experience when you're playing somebody else's music. Now we're playing songs that we wrote ourselves and we're playing them from our hearts. That is when I realized that we had something special."

Despite not having a record deal, Southern Avenue quickly found success touring in America and Europe. They won additional attention playing some prestigious festivals and competing in the International Blues Challenge, in which they represented Memphis. Less than a year after the band's formation, they were signed to the resurgent Stax label.

"I feel like being on Stax is a responsibility," says Tierinii. "I grew up in Memphis, seeing the name Stax everywhere. It was a constant presence, and now it's up to us to live up to that. I feel like this band can be a platform to do a lot of positive things for the city of Memphis. I want to change the world, but Memphis is home."

Tierinii views Southern Avenue as "a perfect soundtrack to our first year together. We wrote these songs in our first nine months of being a band. We'd all done so many things and come from so many different places, but the music represents all of us.

"It's been a real crash course," she continues. "We haven't been a band for very long, but what we have feels very special, and it's made us a strong unit. I think that we represent something that people need to see right now."

"This band has already made our dreams come true," Ori concludes. "I've waited all my life to be in a band like this, and it's amazing to me that I get to play with these people every night. Our goal is to keep doing this for a long time and leave our mark. We're trying to build a legacy."

$40/$55 (ADVANCE) $45/$60 (DAY OF SHOW)

Tickets

This event will have a general admission standing room only floor and a reserved seated Loge and Balcony. Reserved Loge and Balcony tickets will NOT have access to the general admission floor.

18 & over unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
 

 

Who’s Going

Upcoming Events
The Capitol Theatre