Umphrey’s McGee raises a toast to Colorado music fans

Chicago jammers Umphrey's McGee plays an intimate, sold-out show at the Boulder Theater on Thursday night and will return to Colorado's famed Red Rocks on Friday night. (Courtesy photo)
Chicago jammers Umphrey’s McGee plays an intimate, sold-out show at the Boulder Theater on Thursday night and will return to Colorado’s famed Red Rocks on Friday night. (Courtesy photo)

By Sonia Amodeo

Amid a seemingly relentless tour schedule that’s been going on since 1997, Umphrey’s McGee is back in town and ready to play an intimate show for Boulder on Thursday night.

Though the crew comes through town nearly every summer, the shows usually sell out, and Umphrey’s gig at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., is no exception. If you couldn’t snag a ticket to the Boulder show, the band will perform Friday at Red Rocks, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison.

And since Umphrey’s isn’t shy in professing its fondness of Boulder, the group stopped by Boulder Beer, 2880 Wilderness Place on Wednesday night to head a launch party for its collaboration with the brewery (along with Florida’s Cigar City Brewing) to unveil a custom pale ale, Nothing Too Fancy.

“We designed it to be drinkable all day, every day,” guitarist and vocalist Brendan Bayliss said in a Boulder Beer release.

Nothing Too Fancy was released in May to select cities and now craft fans can find the sessionable beer packaged and tapped at Boulder Beer.

Keyboardist Joel Cummins says Umphrey's McGee is
Keyboardist Joel Cummins says Umphrey’s McGee is “gonna make it count” when they play the Boulder Theater. (Courtesy photo)

Colorado fans are looking forward to hearing the shredding solos, melodic improvs and hard-hitting beats of the prog-rock jam band, so we caught up with keyboardist Joel Cummins to talk about the upcoming show.

What are you excited for most about this upcoming Boulder Theater show?

Cummins: “The Boulder Theater is one of the smaller rooms we play these days, though the energy is always crazy in there. I really enjoy how amped up the fans get for us to play a smaller room before the big show at Red Rocks. It’s also very cool that the theater is right in the heart of the town, you can certainly feel the energy Boulder has to offer.”

What is your favorite thing about playing in Boulder?

“Boulder is hands-down one of the coolest places to be in our country with the beauty of the Flatirons, the town and the outstanding people it attracts. There are so many favorite things I have about Boulder I don’t think I can really decide. But playing at the base of the Rocky Mountains is such a rare treat.”

Is there a special energy, culture, or sense of community that you’ve noticed from Boulder fans in comparison to fans from other places?

“Coloradans, in general, love music — which makes playing shows that much more of a cool experience here. The locals are, in general, very educated but also down to earth. You don’t get those two together very often.”

How are shows you play in Boulder different than other shows?

“As far as our preparation, it’s not much different than when we put on a show elsewhere, but the mindset is certainly that people are going to get down very hard whenever the show starts, so we hit the stage running on full cylinders. We usually have an hour-long sound check and then about a 30-minute warm up before the show. It’s a great way to make sure all the details of the music are taken care of.”

Is there anything special or new that fans should look forward to at this show?

“We typically choose setlists the day of the show that we are playing. I would expect that the smaller Boulder show could get a rarity or two as these are some of our most die-hard fans.”

You guys are always touring, and it’s pretty much always packed. What do you think keeps people coming back to see you year after year?

“Undoubtedly, the variety and our willingness to take risks on stage is what keeps people coming back. A lot of bands out there play a very similar, if not the same, show every single night. We strive for the opposite, so much so that we’ll even look back at the past couple years of Colorado shows and try not to repeat songs that we’ve played here recently.”

Anything else you want readers to know about you or the upcoming show?

“The Boulder/Red Rocks combo for a two-night run is one of my favorites of the year. It’s also the 10th anniversary of our first performance at Red Rocks. We’re gonna make it count.”

If you go

What: Umphrey’s McGee

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, July 2

Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder

Tickets: $49.50-$55, SOLD OUT


When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 3.

Where: Red Rocks Ampitheatre, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison

Tickets: $39.50-$45


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