Umphrey’s McGee has never played by the rules. Now, with the unveiling of their all- new Stew Art Series (aka, "S2") – an interactive fan experience where audience members "conduct" the band’s live improvisations – Umphrey’s McGee continue to offer their fiercely loyal fanbase the most innovative musical experiences available.
Look for the band to announce S2 events at various stops along their recently announced 2010 winter tour dates. Confirmed tour dates are as follows:
December 10-13 Caribbean Holidaze Runaway Bay
December 29 Vic Theatre Chicago IL
December 30-31 Aragon Ballroom Chicago IL
January 14 Orpheum Theatre Flagstaff AZ
January 15 House of Blues Las Vegas FL
January 16 Warfield Theatre San Francisco CA
January 17 Knitting Factory Reno NV
January 19 Knitting Factory Boise ID
January 20 The Depot Salt Lake City UT
January 22 Belly Up Aspen Aspen CO
January 23 Fillmore Auditorium Denver CO
February 2 Slowdown Omaha NE
February 3 Liberty Hall Lawrence KS
February 4 The Pageant St. Louis MO
February 5 War Memorial Auditorium Nashville TN
February 6 The Tabernacle Atlanta GA
February 9 WorkPlay Soundstage Birmingham AL
February 11 The Orange Peel Asheville NC
February 12 The Music Farm Charleston SC
February 13 Neighborhood Theatre Charlotte NC
February 14 Rams Head Live Baltimore MD
March 21-23 Jam in the ‘Dam The Melkweg Amsterdam
May 28-30 Summercamp Chillicothe IL
Hosted 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 will be entirely directed by S2 audience members. Check out this S2 video from the inaugural S2 event in Milwaukee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
The first few S2 events have been received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews, including recent coverage in Billboard Magazine. For S2, sold-out crowds of 50 fans submit their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever came 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."
As highly skilled improvisational musicians known for using a complex set of signals on stage to prompt spontaneous musical changes, S2 is proving to keep the band on their toes as they navigate through the audience’s prompts. S22 event), every attendee receives an autographed CD of the Stew Art Series they attend – minutes after the event has concluded. To be clear, each S2 show is a TOTALLY separate event than the scheduled concert date and will be sold as a separate ticket – getting a ticket to S2 does not get you into the show later that night (and vice versa). The S2 experiment is just that, an experiment. Keyboardist Joel Cummins explains, "The improvisational elements of our show have always been one of our favorite parts about playing together – and we think the audience feels that way, too. That’s our inspiration for the S2 series. It’s also a great way to stay on top of our chops." S2 events take place in the early evening before the respective show start times. Prices and ages vary from show to show – which should last one hour (with Q&A).
This is not the first time that Umphrey’s McGee has taken new approaches to delivering their music to the fans. Before their latest studio recording, Mantis, was released in January of this year, the group made the album available for pre-order in an interesting way. Fans were offered more free bonus content the more Mantis pre-orders were received; as the fans "unlocked" levels of content by getting more of their friends to pre-order the album. The idea was to give the fans incentive to help spread the word about the album, and to offer a totally unique music experience.