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Interview:
Umphrey's McGee at Fillmore Detroit, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Umphrey's McGee is a band name that gets your attention.



So does the music.



Since forming at Notre Dame University more than 22 years ago, the group has built a reputation with a wildly eclectic repertoire built on jamming, invention and innovation. No two shows are the same — especially when performed back to back — and oddball covers are frequent occurrences.



The group's latest recording project, meanwhile, is a set of four new songs released one at a time, with the funky "Suxity," just out as of Jan. 16.



• Keyboardist Joel Cummins says by phone the group also likes the idea of single song releases. "It's good to continue to put new music in front of people, I think. The album is certainly a form we'll keep using, but for the meantime we had some songs we wanted to record and felt like that would give us a little bit of breath of fresh air going into the new year and a big new tour."



• Cummins, 45, says the four latest tracks will sound different from each other, as well. "That's kind of been a hallmark for us, variety and a kind of idiosyncratic style and approach. That's certainly reflected on ('Suxity'). And 'Ride On Pony,' which came before, is certainly the closest thing to a country ballad that we've ever done, something a little bit outside our comfort zone. Jake (Cinninger, guitarist) writes songs that go all over the place, which we all love."



• "Ride On Pony" has, in fact, been compared to a Bob Seger song, which Cummins says is no surprise. "Jake is a huge Bob Seger fan. Over the years we've covered a couple different Seger tunes. We've done 'Hollywood Nights,' 'Night Moves.' He's somebody we all really dig, and Jake having (Niles) Michigan roots kind of speaks for itself."



• Cover songs, according to Cummins, serve a couple of different purposes for Umphrey's. "Sometimes it's just because we want to play them. Some are because we feel it would be a good thing to mix with our music. Some of them we feel are more of a musical education thing — we want our fan base to be familiar with a certain artist or piece of music. It just depends on what we're looking for on any given night."



• Cummins says settling into one venue for back-to-back shows is one of the band's favorite things to do. "It really gives you an opportunity to stretch out a little bit — we do that anyway, I guess, but it’s more of a relaxed vibe when you're in the same place for a couple of nights. I know the Fillmore in Detroit has become one of our fan base's favorite indoor venues. It's a spectacular spot to perform a show and take in a show."



Umphrey's McGee performs Friday and Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $25-$39.50 at 313-061-5451 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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