Wednesday, February 14, 2007

ROCKIN' with Umphrey's McGee at Downing Creek Studios

This beautiful new (December, 2006) on-the-road-to-find-out poster for jam-band Umphrey's McGee at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago was designed by Jeff Wood and printed by Jeff at Drowning Creek Studios in Georgia. Drowning Creek is one of the most honored and distinguished design and print studios in all of rock & roll.

Though UM's approach to their live performances has much in common with Phish and the Grateful Dead (ever-changing setlists, constant improvisation, two sets per night, open-taping policy), they're really much more influenced musically by progressive rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis as well as heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden. They also identify the Beatles, the Monkees (!!), and Led Zeppelin as primary influences.

The band was formed at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN in December, 1997, and came to considerable prominence by playing major festivals between 2002 - 2006 such as Bonnaroo in rural Manchester, TN. The band's odd name is taken from a relative of guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss.

Judy Gex, manager of Drowning Creek and life-partner with her sweetie Jeff Wood, says to appreciate Jeff's work you have to travel far in your imagination . . . "eyeball it, then let go and see what happens in your mind," she put it. "That's pretty much how Jeff goes about it himself. It's a 'deep-vision thing,' and has a lot to do with Native American thinking."

"In describing Umphrey's McGee, Jeff and I use the phrase 'aggressive progressive jazz fusion' crossed with Metallica," Judy continued in speaking with me earlier this week. "There are lots of timing changes and long, extended, but not noodly jams. They also do a GREAT job--along with a couple of members of the Disco Biscuits--in playing Pink Floyd and Beatles cover sets. They call that incarnation 'the Brain Damaged Eggmen.' Anybody who'd like to check out Umphrey's for the first time should go to the podcasts available for free on iTunes."

To see more of Drowning Creek's incredible body of work, go to Trust me, it will enlarge your credulity for what's possible to achieve in a rock concert poster.

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