by Dave Sharp on Jun 17th, 2012
[Editor's note: this is a guest post from David Wright, a writer in Nashville, Tenn. Check out more of David's writing at www.dhwright.com]
Leaning back in a pair of shaded wooden chairs outside the press tent at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., guitarist Jake Cinninger and bassist Ryan Stasik of Umphrey’s McGee feel completely at home. In 2002, to promote their first studio recording Local Band Does OK, the band signed up to play Bonnaroo. Since then, they have returned off and on again for seven out of the festival’s eleven years. “Festival’s are a great way to connect with fan’s, especially Bonnaroo,” says Ryan. In the distance, the pulsing trance dial tone of a performance on The What Stage can be heard underway.
Umphrey’s have been the band leaders of a festival circuit that has always thrived on eclectic acts uniting in one place to share music and entertainment. When the music industry went digital, bands like Umphrey’s accepted this new found volatility with a focus to define themselves as a live band. To them, value is in the performance.
With services such as iTunes, Spotify, Grooveshark and more offering streaming options for free music, Umphrey’s are relying on their live performance to gain live audiences over new listeners. “For us, coming to these festival’s is a great chance to put your self in front of an audience that may not have been able to see you otherwise,”says Jake.
Using social media applications, the band has begun to interact with fans right up to the moment of a performance. Receiving advice about songs, solos, and lighting effects from fans, with the most voted on ideas put into the show.
The band loves not only Bonnaroo and music festivals like it — though some say none compare — but they also love the south. The guys say there is a charm that exists here unlike anywhere in the world. “Nine times out of ten I would choose Nashville over LA..,” Ryan says. It can also be known he married a southern women.
Later in the year, the band will be playing at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for the bands first time. Check out the band’s website for more information about tickets to that show and discover details about how you can contribute to the next Umphrey’s McGee performance.