The members of Umphrey's McGee, founded some 16 years ago at Notre Dame University, certainly felt some pain watching this year's national college football championship game, when their alma mater lost handily to Alabama.
Fortunately, says keyboardist Joel Cummins, they didn't have to endure the entire defeat.
"I was on JamCruise," remembers Cummins, 38, "so I watched the first half and at that point I waked about 200 feet and got to see Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood play. So the evening turned out a lot better for me than for most Notre Dame fans."
Things, in fact, remain quite good for Umphrey's McGee, one of the leading groups on the jam-band circuit. Right now the sextet is gearing up to record its seventh new album, a follow-up to 2011's "Death By Stereo." Cummins says the group is eyeballing May and June to get back into guitarist Jake Cinninger's studio in Niles, Mich., where it will go through ideas it worked on during a pre-production session in October and possibly revisit some older songs that have been part of the band's ever-changing live sets but never committed to tape.
"I think it's going to be leaning towards a very rock 'n' roll record," Cummins predicts. "We have a lot of big riffs, a lot of hooks, a lot of changes. Some of it feels a little bit progressive, and some of it is a little more straightahead. But we're really honing in on what we feel is, like, THE Umphrey's McGee sound, and I think this (album) will get us another step closer to that."
Umphrey's McGee and Greensky Bluegrass perform Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50-$30. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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