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Columns > John Zinkand - Improvise

Published: 2007/04/22
by John Zinkand

Its Smart to be D.U.M.B

Umphreys McGee and the Disco Biscuits have announced they will be joining forces this summer. This is not surprising considering the multiple collaborations these two bands have had in the past. Aside from occurrences such as co-bills with Biscuits off shoot band Conspirator, Umphreys McGee has most recently and notably joined forces with the Biscuits as The Brain Damaged Eggmen performing sets of music by the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Both bands have an ardent following in their particular region of the country, so it makes sense for them to join forces this summer for a handful of dates in the south. The short tour together will be of mostly larger venues and is being called D.U.M.B. (get it? *D*isco *U*mphreys *M*cGee *B*iscuits?), but the only thing dumb about it is the name.

Many fans of either band might wonder why the two even collaborate. The Disco Biscuits sound is more about layers, grooves, and a general trancey feel. Their extended jams can be long and hypnotic and often send the listener on a swirling rhythmic voyage of movement, light, and dance. Umphreys McGee, on the other hand, is about complex compositions, instrumental mastery, aggressive playing, meshing multiple musical styles, and stop on a dime technical execution. Because of the vast differences in musical style and approach, the two bands have limited fan crossover. So why would they team up?
One answer is because the people in the two bands get along and have become friends. If the two bands are in the same town on a given night, then some sort of collaboration is to be expected. Out of these collaborations and time to hang out together, The Brain Damaged Eggmen emerged. This band is made up of a combination of members from both bands and first played the music of the Beatles and Pink Floyd together on Jam Cruise IV. After an incredible experience like playing Beatles and Floyd tunes together on the open seas during Jam Cruise, Im sure the guys in the bands developed quite a strong bond. And since then their collaborations show no sign of slowing.
The fact that the two bands styles are different is yet another good reason for them to join forces. By playing music to the others fan base, each band can hope to pick up at least a few new fans during the tour. Also, the bands will be exposed to one another and will influence the other musically for a few nights in a row. Another major reason it makes sense for the bands to team up this summer is the bottom line. Both bands have solid followings, but neither have big enough followings to play the larger summer shed/amphitheater venues on their own quite yet. By teaming together they will already be able to play some of those larger venues this summer. Umphreys and Bisco will also gain more exposure in the southeast where bands like Widespread Panic and Govt Mule currently attract the lions share of the regions jam music fans. They can expect to establish themselves a much firmer footing in this area by developing a larger fan base to build on in the future.
And if that werent enough, their grand finale will be to co-headline the first annual Trancegression Festival in Colorado in mid-July. This is yet another smart idea by the two bands to join forces, have a great time, and hopefully turn a nice profit. The festival line-up looks to be an eclectic mix of trance, hip-hop, and jam music styles, so it should be able to attract a varied fan base. Every band playing this festival could benefit by performing their music to people who have never heard it before and should inevitably walk away with new fans. At most music festivals, music lovers can look forward to the sit-ins and guest appearances as one of the main attractions. Hopefully Trancegression is similar since the collaborations of the varied musical styles offered could be unique and interesting.
Being D.U.M.B was probably the smartest idea Umphreys McGee and the Disco Biscuits ever had. The benefits are great. The two bands are friends, so they will get to spend some quality time hanging out and playing music together at a few dates this summer. Both bands get to play in front of a slightly different audience, so each has the potential of gaining new fans. The two bands will definitely influence each other musically and sit-ins and collaborations are a given, so they will be stretching themselves into new musical territory. Finally, by joining forces for a short tour and a new festival, both have the potential to make more money by playing to bigger crowds and developing future fans in different markets. The marketing savvy of these up and coming jammers is impressive, and hopefully the gamble of being D.U.M.B. together will payoff big – and prove to be a very smart move.

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