Great Moments From Bayliss and Cinninger’s Acoustic Holiday Show
Umphrey's McGee guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger will play their 11th Annual Acoustic Holiday Show this December 7 at Chicago's Park West. The show is known as the most relaxed and unique gig of the year and normally produces moments and performances that attendees will only see on that one night. Brendan and Jake relax on a giant couch set up in front of a fully-decorated Christmas tree. There is no extravagant light show or production, just a couple of acoustic guitars, intimate lighting and a myriad of guest spots. It is truly as close as one could get to a campfire show with their favorite musicians.
In addition, unlike most every other Umphrey's show, this show isn't made available for download via UMLive, so in order to experience it, you certainly have to be there. Video, however, is allowed, and that allows us to present a few great moments from The Annual Acoustic Holiday Show.
"Great American" > "Susanah" > "Great American" with Allie Kral
In 2010, Brendan Bayliss and Yonder Mountain String Band's Jeff Austin released the debut album for their newest project, 30db. Those songs slowly but surely made their way into the Umphrey's rotation, and "Susanah" quickly became a favorite in the acoustic setting. The Holiday Show version featured intro and outro segments of the UM original "Great American" along with violin from special guest, Cornmeal's Allie Kral. Bobby Brown (piano) and Mike Rackey (pedal steel guitar) also joined in sporadicly throughout this show as well as UM percussionist Andy Farag.
Quite possibly the crowning moment of the Acoustic Holiday Show, this creative spin on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" truly encapsulates the spirit of the show as a whole. Jake twists the lyrics around to form "Santa Odyssey," the story of Santa Claus running into some trouble on Christmas night. If you're familiar with Bowie's original lyrics, you know that this song takes a dark turn at the end, further adding to the hilarity. Bayliss also manages to work in some "Can't You See" at the end, also with Christmas-themed lyrics.
"Hajimemashite" with Joel Cummins
The sit-ins at Acoustic Holiday are always unique and tastefully done. This one is high up on that list, as Joel Cummins joined Brendan and Jake to form a trio and perform the Umphrey's original "Hajimemashite." Dating back to 1998 (maybe even earlier), "Haji" is one of the most versatile compositions in the Umphrey's songbook, lending itself to various interpretations and lineups. Here, the acoustic guitars combined with the soft touch of the piano leads to a show-stealing version of one of the most powerful tunes in one of the largest catalogs in live music.
The medley from 2008's show also features an inventive and unique performance, as Bayliss and Cinninger rolled through a medley of "Greensleeves," "Carol of the Bells" and "Christmas Time is Here." You can listen to the nearly 9-minute performance (long by Acoustic Holiday show standards) above.
"August" > "Goodbye Blue Sky" > "August"
This set-closing stanza from last year's show offered a unique take on the Umphrey's original "August" that featured a jam of Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Sky" along with "Hysteria" (Def Leppard) teases. Although Brendan didn't sing "Goodbye Blue Sky," the crowd certainly helped out, belting out the chorus line as the duo played through it. A creative detour back into the end of "August" closed the set and one of the stronger Acoustic Holiday shows in its 10-year history.
"Christmas Time Is Here" with Chicago Children's Choir
In the end, this show is all about the kids. This year, the show will benefit The People's Music School, which helps provide music education to kids in Chicago area hospitals. In 2010, Bayliss and Cinninger lent a hand to The Chicago Children's Choir and even invited the kids up on stage towards the end of the set to perform "Christmas Time Is Here" with Andy Farag helping out on drums.