Umphreys Delivers A Special Christmas Box’ and Horns Aplenty
Umphreys McGee wrapped up its All Roads Lead To Chicago three night stand at the Aragon Ballroom on New Years Eve with three sets and a stellar horn section. Joining the group on the 31st were Jeff Coffin and Chris Neal on saxophone, Michael ‘Mad Dog’ Mavridoglou on trumpet and Brent Sanders on trombone. Umphreys added the brass-infusion to a number of its selections in the second and third sets, including: Wife Soup, Higgins, Partyin’ Peeps and a debut take on Steely Dans My Old School. Opener Taj Mahal also appeared with the horns on Blind Willie Johnsons You’ll Need Somebody On Your Bond and later returned for She Caught the Katy.
The two prior Chicago also dates drew in additional guest musicians along with new covers. The North Mississippi Allstars opened on the 29th and all three members appeared with UM, as Cody Dickinson added washboard to Mullet (Over), Chris Chew replaced bass Ryan Stasik for Push the Pig (Stasik moved to keys) and Luther Dickinson emerged during the encore for versions of I Want You (She’s So Heavy) and Glory. On the 30th after Los Lobos opening set (during which Umphreys guitarist Jake Cinninger joined the group for Not Fade Away and Bertha) David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin contributed guitar and sax to Thin Air. Jeff Coffin also appeared that night, during an encore that began with In the Kitchen carried into a Third Stone from the Sun jam and concluded with a first-ever cover of Supertramps Bloody Well Right. Other breakouts over the run included versions of Genesis Abacab (December 29), Neil Youngs Cinnamon Girl (December 30), John Lennons Instant Karma with drummer Kris Myers on vocals (December 30) and ‘A Special Christmas Box’ (December 31). The final tune, which opened the encore on New Years Eve, was drawn from a Saturday Night Live short film where Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg sang about giving their girlfriends a ‘dick in a box’ for Christmas.