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Published: 2006/01/03

Nothing Too Fancy for Umphreys and Keller

On last summers BIG Summer Classic, Umphreys McGee and Keller Williams formed an instant bond, collaborating often throughout the traveling multi-band festival. So its no surprise that the two-groups decided to continue their collaborations through New Years Eve with two-joint performances at Chicagos Aragon Ballroom. On both December 30 and 31, Williams also joined the hometown heroes during their headlining set , beginning Friday during a jam leading out of Utopian Fir. Williams then added guitar and vocals to Women Wine and Song, which arrived complete with a tease of the Grateful Deads Scarlet Begonias. The one-man jamband later returned near the start of set two to lend vocals and guitar to Play This. As another treat, Umphreys closed out its show with the debut reading of David Bowies Fame.

A night later, Williams appeared again early on , joining Umphreys McGee during its first set for Turn In Difference. For its second set Umphreys McGee also expanded to a horn section which included trumpeter Michael Mavridoglou, saxophonist Chris Near on saxophone and trombonist Brent Sanders for a selection of numbers including Bridgeless and Last Man Swerving. Paris Delane also joined Umphreys McGee and its horn section for a medley which included One Nation Under a Groove,’ ‘Kiss, Need You Tonight, Amazing Grace and Stairway to Heaven. Umphreys McGees third set then morphed into something of a family affair with Williams and the evenings horn section augmenting the Chicago sextet on Nothing Too Fancy, which slipped into Auld Lang Syne at midnight. Auxiliary players continued to dot the groups set before the evenings cast of characters emerged for a set closing version of Partyin Peeps. As an encore treat, Umphreys McGee also offered a dub version of Pink Floyds Breathe and a Michelle Hannigan-augmented of Great Gig in the Sky, soon after inviting all of the evenings guests onstage for a show closing version of Ray Charles Night Time is the Right Time. Both Umphreys McGee and Keller Williams will return to the live arena on January 7 as part of Jam Cruise, where further collaborations will likely ensue.

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