Umphrey's McGee

After 18-plus years of performing more than 100 concerts annually, releasing nine studio albums and selling more than 4.2 million tracks online, Umphrey’s McGee might be forgiven if they chose to rest on their laurels. But then that wouldn’t be consistent with the work ethic demonstrated by the band, which consistently attempts to raise the bar, setting and achieving new goals since forming on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, in 1997.

After releasing their eighth studio album, Similar Skin, the first for their own indie label, Nothing Too Fancy (N2F) Music (distributed by RED), the group continued to push the envelope and test the limits. The London Session, was a dream come true for the members having been recorded at the legendary Studio Two at historic Abbey Road. The stealth recording session yielded 10 tracks in a single day, proving once again, the prolific UM waits for no one.

As a follow up to The London Session, the envelope pushing continues with the November 11th release of ZONKEY. Umphrey’s McGee has been arranging and performing original mashups live for over eight years. It was only a matter of when, not if, some of those innovative concoctions would find their way into a studio. An album of 12 unique mashups, conceived and arranged by the band, ZONKEY is as seamless as it bizarre, playful as it is razor sharp. Bits and pieces of classic songs are culled from 40-plus years of popular music from 70s Reggae to 80s Pop to 90s Metal and everywhere in between. From Radiohead mashed with Beck, The Weeknd with Fleetwood Mac,
Talking Heads with Bob Marley, Metallica with Gorillaz . . . nothing is off limits.

The original Umphrey’s McGee played a mix of originals and cover songs, waiting just eight months to release their debut album, the cheekily titled Greatest Hits Volume III. Their initial
“proper” recording, Local Band Does OK, came out in 2002, followed shortly afterward by an appearance at the first-ever Bonnaroo in Tennessee, selling more albums than any other band on the bill. The 2007 double album, Live at the Murat, earned a four-star review in Rolling Stone and a
Jammy for Best Live Album.

Despite attempts at categorizing UM, the band has devoted its craft to making their devoted followers feel as if they are part of something larger, through such technology-fueled innovations
as fan-curated sets, the immersive high-end audio offering, “Headphones & Snowcones,” where the pristine sound of the live soundboard mix is piped wirelessly through high-end personal
monitor systems and headphones, as well as making every live show since 2005 available via their live music portal UM were also the first group to launch its own single-artist
streaming service.

Finding themselves in London for three shows at the Brooklyn Bowl in June 2014, the idea of recording at Abbey Road was first proposed by Umphrey’s producer Manny Sanchez, a notion, as
Bayliss told Rolling Stone that seemed as likely as “being asked to give a sermon at the Vatican.”
“It wasn’t a goal,” he explains, “because it never seemed like a possibility.” But never to be bound by what seems possible, UM secured a coveted day at the world’s most famous recording studio and dove in headfirst.

Twelve hours after first setting foot in Abbey Road Studios, just before midnight, Umphrey’s McGee left the historic room with their own new album, The London Session, what Rolling Stone
dubs “a historical primer, an evolution story inside 51 minutes.”
This November 11th, prepare to get Zonkey’d. An album unlike any previous Umphrey’s McGee effort, this unique take on the mash-up concept is yet another example that there aren’t many places Umphrey’s McGee won’t take you.

Umphrey’s McGee are more than just a rock band – through nearly two decades, they have proven to be on the cutting-edge of both music and technology, super-serving their fans through a
community that stretches from the campus of Notre Dame to the hallowed halls of Abbey Road.

Redefining the possibilities of modern music, The Russ Liquid Test fuses the raw vitality of classic funk and the inventive sound design of electronic production. Songwriter/producer and renowned brass specialist Russell Scott heads up the New Orleans-based band. Guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Deven Trusclair round things out, with each providing a distinct musical background deeply rooted in the New Orleans jazz scene. Their debut EP 1984 featured an eclectic array of guest collaborators such as Mr. Lif and Ivan Neville—successfully creating an auditory canvas to forge The Russ Liquid Test’s irresistibly soulful future-vintage stylings.

A kinetic energy infuses each track on 1984. Giving way to a mixture of funk/jazz/electro, The Russ Liquid Test evokes a kaleidoscope of textures, senses, and moods. Featuring Ivan Neville on keyboards and the Funky Meters’ Russell Batiste Jr. on drums, the effervescent and synth-heavy title track “speaks about the current state of America from the perspective of an outsider,” as described by Scott. Lead single “Honesty,” meanwhile, finds The Russ Liquid Test slipping into a woozy psychedelia, offset by a brilliantly structured dichotomy introduced in its second-line-inspired groove.

At the heart of The Russ Liquid Test is an improv-driven musicality that began with Scott’s taking up classical piano. After spending several years playing in a jazz quintet on cruise ships and touring with psychedelic ska band Uprite Dub Orchestra, his one-of-a-kind artistry was unveiled in the genre-busting musical performance group MarchFourth Marching Band. Capable of playing the trumpet and saxophone, Scott quickly began experimenting with electronic music, eventually adopting the moniker of Russ Liquid. As his full-length debut, 2013’s Foreign Frequency showcased a forward-thinking mentality and fearless vision, anchored by an incomparable knowledge of music as a whole. “I wanted new colors to paint with,” says Scott of his foray into electronic music. “I kind of look at the electronic world as this whole other color palette, compared to the traditional sounds we’ve been working with for the past however many years.”

While on tour with Gramatik in 2014, Scott crossed paths with Block and discovered the duo’s shared musical tastes and philosophies. A South Florida native, Block grew playing guitar in his local Pentecostal church. “I wasn’t religious, I just wanted to play at that church because the music there was amazing,” says Block. He later relocated to New Orleans, pursuing his dream of becoming a full-time musician. The guitarist’s legendary endeavors reached fellow purveyors of soul/funk/R&B, ranging from Pretty Lights to New Orleans icon Dr. John. Capable of collaborating and working as a solo artist without missing a beat, Block released his 2014 debut You Can Only Go Up From Here on Gramatik’s independent label Lowtemp.

In the making of 1984, The Russ Liquid Test compounded their potent chemistry by bringing in a lineup of equally impassioned musicians. “Coming from a background of playing in bands and then getting into electronic music, I’d really missed having that interaction with other musicians,” says Scott. “The most rewarding thing for me is being able to bounce ideas off other people, so that the music ends up having more than just one person’s vibe to it. Ultimately it lets you give the audience even more to connect with.”

The studio workhorses have already begun working on a sophomore EP. The Russ Liquid Test also presents a joyful sense of synergy in their high-powered live shows, with recent appearances including Shambhala Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, Summer Camp, and Sonic Bloom, among others. No matter the setting, a clear multidimensionality can always be heard in The Russ Liquid Test’s projects. “We want to make people feel good but also give them something to reflect with,” says Scott. “It’s not about just making party music or music that’s more introspective—it’s for the full gamut of human expression, and we want it to be just as dynamic as life itself.”



Upcoming Events
Crystal Ballroom