Umphrey's McGee Announces this Fall's First S2 Event in Memphis

Umphrey’s McGee’s Stew Art Series (aka, “S2”) has received national media attention and high praise from fans for its innovations in band/fan collaboration and use of interactive technology. Today Umphrey’s McGee announces the first of four Fall 2010 installments at Minglewood Hall in Memphis on Friday, September 24th.

Doors will open at 4:00 pm, with the S2 to start at 4:30 pm. Following the S2, there will be a meet and greet with the band, as well as snacks and drinks available. Tickets are $99 and go on sale this Friday the 17th at Noon ET at Patrons will need a separate ticket to attend that evening’s regularly scheduled show.

Presented as individual events before that evening’s already schedule show, Umphrey’s Stew Art Series is a crowd-sourced improvisation experiment, in which all the music performed by the group on stage is entirely directed by S2 audience members. Check out this S2 video from the inaugural S2 event in Milwaukee.

S2 events have been received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews. For S2, sold-out crowds of 50 fans submit their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever comes to mind), to the Umphrey's Mozes mobile interface. The suggestions are then filtered by the band’s long time Sound Caresser Kevin Browning and projected on a screen for the band to digest and turn into the next phase of the jam. The band’s music varies stylistically with suggestions ranging from “an afternoon bus ride in Jamaica” to “drinking pina coladas…in a hurricane”. As one elated fan commented after a show, “S2 was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. It’s always been a dream of mine to meet the band, and the opportunity to participate in leading the Jam for the band was a dream come true as well.” Stay tuned to for confirmation on S2 fall events.

Umphrey’s McGee’s current list of fall tour dates is as follows:

Thursday, September 23 Valarium Knoxville TN
Friday, September 24 Minglewood Hall Memphis TN featuring an S2 event
Saturday, September 25 The Diamond Ballroom Oklahoma City OK
Sunday, September 26 George's Majestic Lounge Fayetteville AR
Tuesday, September 28 El Rey Theatre Albuquerque NM
Wednesday, September 29 Orpheum Theatre Flagstaff AZ
Friday, October 1 The Depot Salt Lake City UT
Saturday, October 2 Knitting Factory Spokane WA
Sunday, October 3 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Speedway Meadows San Francisco CA
Wednesday, October 6 Arcata Theatre Arcata CA
Thursday, October 7 McDonald Theatre Eugene OR
Friday, October 8 The Showbox Seattle WA
Saturday, October 9 The Wilma Theatre Missoula MT
Thursday, October 21 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale PA
Friday, October 22 Kalamazoo State Theatre Kalamazoo MI
Saturday, October 23 House of Blues - Cleveland Cleveland OH
Sunday, October 24 Bluebird Nightclub Bloomington IN
Wednesday, October 27 People's Court Des Moines IA
Thursday, October 28 - Friday, October 29 Canopy Club Urbana IL
Saturday, October 30 - Sunday, October 31 The Pageant St. Louis MO
Wednesday, November 3 - Thursday, November 4 Higher Ground Ballroom South Burlington VT
Friday, November 5 - Saturday, November 6 9:30 Club Washington D.C.
Tuesday, November 9 Jefferson Theater Charlottesville VA
Wednesday, November 10 Legends at Appalachian State University Boone NC
Thursday, November 11 - Friday, November 12 Bear Creek Music & Art Fest Live Oak, FL
Wednesday, December 29, Thursday, December 30, and Friday, December 31 Riviera Theatre Chicago IL
Thursday, January 20 - Monday, January 24 Mayan Holidaze Puerto Morelos MEX

Umphreys McGee Embrace Change

Change.  It has been the ringing theme across America throughout the last six months, not only politically but socially.  Our country has finally come to the conclusion that "business as usual" can no longer work, seen most prominently by the economic turmoil facing the nation today.


umOne area reeling from its own such financial crisis is the music recording industry.  Sales from physical albums have massively plunged over the last decade, due mostly in part to the rise of the digital age.  There are too many options via the internet for people to get their music for free or cheap, making the purchase of CDs virtually too expensive or unnecessary.


Record company executives have been scrambling to figure out ways to make money off of their artists, and some are beginning to try new revenue streams in hopes of making their products profitable again.  Yet many still seem to be relying on tired methods of heavy marketing, and fighting digital retailers such as iTunes.


Artists have taken note, with some prominent names deciding that they no longer necessarily need distribution labels to sell their music.  There is a fundamental shift taking place in the music industry, one that now seems long overdue.  A change in approach has become evident, and no group this year has embraced such change more than the progressive rock outfit Umphreys McGee.


The popular touring band from Chicago started off 2009 fresh with a brand new studio release called Mantis.  Musically it was their most bold, complex, and well-produced album to date.  But what really made this project so special was the means by which they chose to market it.  The campaign consisted of a grassroots-type effort of giving fans more music through their pre-ordering system.  What it came down to was the more orders that got placed then the more fans would get out of it.  Levels of digital bonus content would be "unlocked" if more folks purchased orders for the new album.


In addition to the ordering campaign, the group incorporated a new technology into the disc itself that worked like a "key" to getting even more bonus material from the internet.  Using this PUSH product, users only needed to insert the disc into their home computers, which would then direct them to a website where they could download more content such as photos, liner notes, and live songs.


And the strategy worked.  Fans old and new excitedly purchased the new album, landing the release on the coveted Billboard Top 200 for that week.  This is from a band that went from modest CD sales to #62 on that chart.


umUmphreys McGee did not stop there when reworking their image.  Shortly after the release of Mantis, the band hit the road in support of the album.  They are no strangers to large tours, but decided to also alter the way they approach touring.  First they brought along famed lighting engineer Jeff Waful to set up a new light rig and wow fans with a more visual experience.


Second, they are considering changing the two-set format that most jam bands use in performances to one longer set with an extended encore.  This will give fans the same amount music, but will inevitably cut production costs with shorter overall venue use.


As if the experience of the show is not enough, fans can also purchase downloadable copies of each performance through their partnership with Live Downloads at  The concerts can be purchased as MP3s or the higher quality FLAC files.  The band will also soon be delivering shows in a new HDMP3 format, which will give listeners lossless audio files that are compatible with standard MP3 players, thus providing much better quality overall sound.


The band has those who want the whole live music experience, but cannot be there in person, covered too.  On a recent string of shows the band partnered with iClips to allow fans the opportunity to stream live shows as they happen.  For a modest fee of $5 anyone could get a virtual experience of a live Umphreys McGee concert.


umThese revolutionary methods are working off the mantra, the more you give the more you get.  And because of this thinking, the band is experiencing their most successful year of their career.  By embracing change the group is laying the groundwork not only for their future, but the future of those who follow.


As artists and recording companies look for ways to survive in a suffering industry, Umphreys McGee may be the ones to lead the charge of new methods of not only sustainable, but profitable growth.