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Published: 2005/03/15

Banjos, Kazoos, and New Songs In The Jimmy Stews – Umphrey’s McRolls Through The South

Last week Umphrey’s McGee returned south yet again for five shows and a festival appearance, and their week featured some guest spots and a sneak peek at some material that should see its way into their repertoire before soon.
Monday the band was joined by Noam Pikelny (Leftover Salmon) who lent banjo to the encore pairing of ‘Bad Poker’ and ‘Bright Lights’ at Nashville’s Exit Inn. Tuesday at Knoxville’s Blue Cats, the show featured not any sit-ins, but a second set pairing of ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘War Pigs’ which preluded the fan favorite, ‘Uncle Wally.’ They also offered a version of ‘Billie Jean,’ and they placed ‘Plunger’ (from Anchor Drops) into the middle of ‘Pay The Snucka’ to close their fiery second set. Wednesday the band also delivered impressive covers of Pat Metheny (‘Last Train Home’) and Billy Joel (a ferocious rendition of, ‘The Stranger’). Thursday night the band moved on to The Georgia Theater in Athens, where they were joined in the second set by Rev. Jeff Mosier (Ear Reverents, Wayside Riders, ARU, Blueground Undergrass) for an extended take on, ‘Nothing Too Fancy,’ and Mosier re-emerged for the encore of The Beatles’, ‘Baby You’re a Rich Man.’ The Georgia Theater show also included note-perfect readings of Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts 1>5)’ and Return To Forever’s, ‘Senor Mouse.’ Meanwhile the band also has been offering snippets of new material during their improvisational section called ‘Jimmy Stewart.’

Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse has become a sort of home away from home for the band, as they came less than fifty tickets away from selling out the venue for the third time in eight months. The band offered several of their own old gems, including the show-opening, ‘Q-Bert.’ However, during the second set, Karl Engleman (Mother Vinegar, Ravioli Riot) moved quickly onto the stage during, ‘All Things Ninja,’ to offer a kazoo solo – pulling multiple kazoos out of his clothing to offer different sounds as he moved through his solo. The band’s weekend ended with a sunset set on Langerado’s Sunset stage, which included another one of the band’s more recent songs, the Supertramp/Little Feat flavored, ‘Women, Wine and Song.’
After this weekend’s Amsterjam, the band will resume stateside touring Saturday, March 26 at the site of their most recent New Year’s Show, Chicago’s Riviera Theater.Report by Rob Turner

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