This month Jeff Kempka offers some insight into Umphreaks.com.
Way back when, Pete Fikis created a site known as ficusfiles for the
Chicago area jam band scene. The site was used to host upcoming show
dates, setlists, pictures, reviews and the like for bands coming through
the Chicago area. Furthur on down the road, in 1999, Pete featured
Umphrey’s McGee on ficusfiles. It was at this time that Pete realized
Umphrey’s McGee was something special and that he wanted to create a site
for the fans. He wanted a site for pictures, lyrics, song histories,
reviews and such. At this point, Pete took it upon himself to create a
website with all of that information and more.
Fast forward to mid-2000 and the site had become a popular place for
Umphrey’s fans, AKA umphreaks. It was at this time that Jeff Kempka found
a deal on domain registrations and registered the domain umphreaks.com.
The Umphrey’s fan site was then moved out from under ficusfiles and the
site was born. Shortly after the site was brought under the moniker Umphreaks.com, there was a message board added to
the site which came to be known as ‘The Bort’. The Bort was put in place
to take over for the message board that was on Umphreys.com at
the time. It was an instant success, and has continued to be the focal
point of Umphreaks.com ever since.
In early November of 2002, it was decided that the entire look of the site
should be changed. A crew of umphreaks worked hard on the site, getting
information transferred into the new format, adding content and making the
overall experience better for the sites visitors. On December 11, 2002,
the new and improved Umphreaks.com was launched. The site had an
entirely new look, new Bort script, new photo sharing gallery, a live chat
room, and new lyrics updates along with many song histories. Since then,
the web team has kept the site up to date with fresh content and photos
from new shows (many times within hours of a shows end). The Bort has
also been used by Kevin Browing (Umphrey’s McGee FOH Engineer) and Adam
Budney (Umphrey’s McGee Lighting Director) as a way to send out up to the
minute setlist updates from the show. When Umphrey’s shows are webcast,
there are many who join in the live chat room and have as close to a
‘virtual show’ as you can have. Watch and hear the show on the screen, as
well as talk to 50 umphreaks online at the same time!
Umphreaks.com is a portal for the fans of Umphrey’s McGee to
communicate online. It’s also a good place for new fans to meet up with
some of the old, find out which shows are ‘must haves’ on tape or CDR,
find a ride to the next show, or just make a few friends who are into
similar music. In the future we’re hoping to expand our community of
umphreaks as more people begin to appreciate and love the music and the
community that surrounds our favorite band, Umphrey’s McGee!