Auld Lang Syne Set 2: Joel Cummins, George Porter Jr., Robert Walter…
Here’s another look back at 2013.
JOEL CUMMINS – UMPHREY’s McGEE
What will you remember most about 2013?
What will I remember most about 2013? God I can barely remember 2013 as it is. Let me go through the year. Let me start with moments from each month.
So January of 2013 I went on Jam Cruise, which I think was my favorite Jam Cruise so far. I had some great friends on here and Jefferson [Waful] of course was making his documentary that has since come out. We had a lot of fun with that. We taped a bunch of stuff that we didn’t use actually too but um getting to see that was definitely a highlight and as we just said playing The Beacon was a dream come true. I mean there are little moments along the way. It’s very rare that we actually see progress. You go to a town and you might have a 100 or 200 more people than the last time and so we’re making these really gradual steps. It’s never been like this for us. I prefer it that way because it’s been a much easier thing to adjust to along the way on a ton of levels. So that was one of those things where we could look back to the beginning and be like we’ve come a long way and this is really special and kind of take that moment in. You recognize that you see so many of the fans and so many people that have come back that are like, ‘I’ve been seeing you guys in New York since you were at The Wetlands or The Bowery Ballroom or Irving Plaza.’ They’ve all seen us over these years, and then to finally get there after working so hard to build New York. So that was a huge achievement.
Lets see in February it mostly seems like cold snowy. I don’t know if there was anything that really stands out for me.
March, we got to do my second West Coast tour since I moved to the West Coast so it was really cool a two-night stand in L.A., which kind of my new adopted hometown. So March was cool and on a non-musical note,one cool thing that happened for me in March definitely a highlight of the year, my Dad flew out to Phoenix the day we played a festival called McDowell Mountain. So I went rented a car and planned this little trip with my dad, this golfing, spring training, and Vegas trip. I went and picked my dad up at the airport and brought him to the festival and so we hung out all day and listened to music. Then he got to watch us play and it was fun for him because my parents come to tons of shows in the Chicago and the Midwest and they’ve been to lots of New Year’s shows and Summer Camp. They’re like on show 150. So it was good to do that with my Dad and stay with some friends and do spring training and play golf with him and go to Vegas. That was really cool special thing so that was highlight in March.
April I went back to Thailand with my wife and went to a beach called The Koh Panang which was fantastic. You can probably imagine when I’m not playing shows I’m not exactly looking to rage all night. I try to get that done on Jam Cruise. We actually went intentionally when there was not a full moon party, but it still an amazing island. We went to Tokyo and visited our friend whose also in the Jam Cruise video, a good friend of ours that lives over there.
May I would say Summer Camp again, always a yearly highlight getting to go back there. It felt like we really crushed it. Epic rainstorms though. Lots of festivals got dumped on.
So June. Well I’ll give you a Digital Tape Machine highlight. We got to play Electric Forest, which is a fantastic festival too. It’s one that my wife works at and so I got to kind of go and hang out with her and friends and sit in with other bands and play with DTM. Yeah, I’m a big fan of that event. I don’t know if Umphrey’s will ever play it but its one of those they have a great piece of land up there. It’s super cool, just kind of cultural and artistic thing as well.
What did we do in July? We just played at the beginning of the month. We played Summer Fest in Milwaukee. What else did we do? Well, I remember that week being fun. Ryan [Stasik] of course became a father in July so that was a highlight for all of us. We’re all really happy for him.
August we had the STUMP tour [with STS9], and every night was fantastic. I mean we did it in 2008 and we weren’t sure how it was gonna go. Attendance-wise it went great. As far as the band vibes, we totally got along with these guys. With these guys we can pull out a little bit of the prankster. We’re not serious people and we hope we brought a little bit of that out of them. So we’re all boys now sitting in with each other and just messing around in the day and it felt like a big family on the road and that’s definitely part of the challenge of doing the tour. All the people. If the crew and the musicians are cool people, it just makes the whole experience a more positive and rewarding one. So the particular highlight for me was the Chicago show because we ended up with the most perfect day. I mean it was like 82 in the day and like 70 at show time and to get that in Chicago…you can have insane storms and there is no protection on Northerly Island so 8,000 people there, our biggest headlining show to date. Just a perfect night. That was really satisfying.
September we ended the STUMP tour and then I think we had the entire month off from Umphrey’s. I think I played with Cosby Sweater in Ohio. Yeah, I think I just kind of took the month off and went home and it was nice.
Then October we were back on the road so I would say the Halloween shows were awesome this year. I feel like last year we really raised the bar with the quality of the mash ups that we did. We did Talking Heads, Bob Marley, Frank Zappa one. There was one called “Life During Exodus” that we played probably four or five times last year because it just worked. The vibes of it and switching back and forth, and for whatever reason they were better than others. I felt like we stepped it up again, we were well rehearsed and ready. If I had to pick one highlight of October, it would be that mash up of “Papa was a Rolling Stone”, Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”, LCD Soundsystem’s “I Can Change” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” That like totally captures what we’re about. It was like some quality music and also some tongue-in-cheek hilarity. We don’t really like “Blurred Lines” but we were trying to be a little bit funny with that. It was for the ladies. But yeah it turned out to be this really fun like 10-minute piece of music so that was cool.
November highlight will probably non-musical. My wife and I did a trip to St. Martin. It was this amazing discovery, on the French side. They call it the culinary capitol of the Caribbean. So hanging out in this little beach hotel and going to great restaurants. We were there for five days and that was definitely the top for me in November.
December I would go with the New Year’s run, just barely over Mayan Holidaze. Just because of Colorado and being able to do it with just great energy at these shows. Just super special to do that for the first time and I’m sure it will happen again and do some big shows or Halloween shows.
So what album or albums have you listened to the most this past year?
Definitely our new Umphrey’s McGee album, because I’m trying to critique it and make it better. So the funny thing about musicians’ creating albums is they listen to them relentlessly trying to be a perfectionist and make the arrangements right and put things in there that need to be there and take things away that don’t need to be there and then once we put the album out we never listen to it again. Once everybody else gets to listen to it, we’re done. So I’ve been listening to that a lot recently. I try not to listen to the same thing too much just to really pull inspiration from stuff.
I definitely dug White Denim’s new album Corsicana Lemonade. They’re a big favorite of mine. I definitely dug this band called Rhye. Great voice, really cool songs. I don’t know if they have a new album, but a lot of times, as opposed to listening to new albums, I’ll just pull up artists on Spotify and check out whatever their most popular songs are. Foals from the UK is a band that I really think is doing a cool job of kind of using a two guitar band for more of a dancey vibe, so I dig their stuff a lot. It’s so funny, after I do an interview I’m always like ‘Oh, how did I forget this? I’ve been listening to this all the time!’ When I’m driving I try to listen to Sirius XM a lot. I finally got that in my car. I finally got a car with a nice stereo in there too and so ill kind of mix it up Lithium, some of the BPM, Chill Zone. That’s really fun too and I love discovering music that way and I’ll listen to Jam_On once in awhile and make sure I’ve got the windows up. And then when Umphrey’s comes on I can take a picture on my phone and send it to my mom and be like ‘see mom?’ You know, things like that.
What emerging band or artists should our readers watch out for?
That’s a good question. Am I allowed to say Cosby Sweater featuring Joel Cummins?
There’s my other band Digital Tape Machine, we’ve got about seven or eight new tracks and we’re gonna put out studio versions of those.
I really dug The Revivalists. I saw their set. I thought that was super cool. I really dig Orgone. They are a fantastic band. I checked them out last year. I think I watched both their sets. They’re super fun. I love that band. There are so many good ones.
There’s couple bands that are opening for us that I really dig, like the California Honeydrops. So I really dig the Honeydrops. The Bad Rabbits. They’re a fantastic band from Boston. They played with us a couple other times but I think they have a new album out and it super funky. Just awesome soulful tunes and I really dig them.
Another band that’s on Jam Cruise—Mike Dillon Band. They obviously have been touring a bit and obviously are not necessarily up and coming but I still feel like more of the world needs to know about them and I absolutely love Mike in that band, and just as a player and as a percussionist and a drummer. He sat in with Umphrey’s a few times and so I’m hoping we’re going to do some shows together again in 2014. And then Carly Meyers, the trombone player from that band is totally like one of my top horn players. I get so excited on the cruise whenever she’s sitting in with somebody. She just brings the energy up and super talented player and so fun to watch so that’s definitely another one.
Then there’s a 12-year-old, her name is Jaden Carlson. She has her own band. I think based out of Boulder. She sat in with us while we were playing with Josh Redman and she traded out with Brendan and then she and Jake did this duel thing that was just shredding. It was so cool. So yeah I would say definitely check her out. She plays like she’s an old black man and I don’t know how you do that as a 12 year old but she’s really special and obviously really focused on music
CHRIS PANDOLFI – INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS
What will you remember most about 2013?
I remember when John Scofield sat in with the Stringdusters at The Festy, which is our festival in Northern Virginia. And he’s my all-time improvising hero, and the Scofield Uberjam played and he sat in with us for a couple tunes and it was my most in-awe, legend-sit-in moment in my music career.
What album or albums have you listened to the most this past year?
I’d say the album I listened to the most this past year was this new album by this guy called Washed Out, called Paracosm. I actually knew his sister in Nashville and got into the Life of Leisure EP and fell in love with Paracosm.
What was your favorite show in 2013?
I saw the Scofield UberJam Band at High Sierra, and it was the best Scofield set I think I’ve ever seen.
What is an emerging band or artist our readers should watch out for in 2014?
I would say Paper Bird, this band from Denver. They’re on the rise; they’re just starting to hit it hard. Three awesome and beautiful singers and this awesome backup and great songs; really good people. I think they’ll definitely start making their rounds this year.
Any big plans for the Stringdusters for 2014?
Between the new album, The Festy and festivals in the summer and a schedule of touring, we’re gonna have another busy year ahead of us!
What will you remember most about 2013?
Well thirteen for me has always been a lucky number, and thirteen the year proved to be the same. I had a really good year; I made some good music with a lot of good players, and I hope to continue on to 2014.
What album or albums have you listened to most this year?
This year? Well I listen to a lot of the same albums every year, but I’m a big reggae fan. I listen to reggae constantly. One of my newest things is Stephen Marley’s latest, Mind Control. I listened to that a lot. I listened to the Jake Miller Band’s album quite a bit. You know, I’ve got to say that’s about it: I listen to tons of reggae.
What was your favorite show or tour in 2013?
I’d have to say, we had a great show here- and I’m judging because I see a lot of great shows here in New Orleans, and there’s been so many great ones – my favorite show, still to this day, of this year was in Lafayette Square. We had a great crowd and a great show. I love them, too. And we never headlined, but last year we headlined and we just nailed it. We had one of those days where everybody was there and they were ready to have a good time, you know what I mean? It was one of those perfect shows. I do remember that one clearly. A lot of them go by so fast, but I remember that one clearly.
What emerging band or artist should our readers watch out for in 2014?
Emerging band or artist? Well I hope it’s me! (laughs) There’s so many good ones; I saw so many great bands this year. I really dug Orgone this year, with the new singer. I dug The Monophonic. I found a lot of new stuff on Jam Cruise. As a musician I don’t go out and see a bunch of music but I catch a lot of openers and bands on bills and that was a lot of good stuff I saw.
Any big plans in the works for 2014?
Keep on keepin’ on…that’s about it.