Not unlike the rest of the country and the world, improv-rock gurus Umphrey’s McGee have found themselves with an empty-for-now itinerary and, in isolation, the strange daily balance of making sense of it all and making use of the extra time. Today, UM released “Easter In Quarantine.” Penned and recorded by Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss, mixed, and mastered in the course of just over two weeks, “Easter In Quarantine” is a haunting, moody reflection that encapsulates the zeitgeist of this surreal experience we’re all having. “Easter In Quarantine” can be streamed and purchased here.
“Gazing out the window on a chilly, gray day and what lands in my inbox but an unknown track titled ‘Easter in Quarantine,’” remembers Umphrey’s manager and the man behind this single’s artwork, Kevin Browning. “Setting down my coffee, I picked up my headphones and hit play on Jake’s latest delivery. The heartbeat of the kick drum and somber piano melody immediately gave me chills. Sparse and emotive, it perfectly captured the mood that morning.” A swirling Hammond organ ramps into a simple ride cymbal and kick drum rhythm before Bayliss’s first lines enter amidst a chilling reverb. “Empty pockets, frozen feet. Noone’s walking down the street.” “Jake had set the mood, the vibe was there, and the subject matter was all too apparent in the moment,” says Browning. “And as Brendan does, he perfectly channeled the sentiments that we’re all experiencing during these bizarre times.”
The song’s refrain of “looking for a way to wait it out” and “looking for a way to make it out alive” gives way to an uplifting tag, promising “I’ll see you when I see you, on the other side.” The song closes with something atypical for Umphrey’s McGee, a saxophone solo. Played by Jake Cinninger—along with the rest of the instrumentation on “Easter In Quarantine”—the outro leaves listeners with maybe a little more hope than they started the song with.
“It is said a lot right now and it’s as true as ever: We are all in this together. The feelings of missing one another, of longing for more human connection, are palpable in all of us. We have constructed lives by building a community together, it’s what we know. This pause of unknown length in the middle of that is a new reality which resonates with each of us now,” says the band in a collective statement. “Music has always been an irreplaceable part of us, and it’s the way we will continue to get through it, together. And we here at Umphrey’s can’t wait to see you on the other side of this crazy moment in history.”
More About Umphrey’s McGee: The music of Umphrey’s McGee unfolds like an unpredictable conversation between longtime friends. Its six participants—Brendan Bayliss [guitar, vocals], Jake Cinninger [guitar, vocals], Joel Cummins [keyboards, piano, vocals], Andy Farag [percussion], Kris Myers [drums, vocals], and Ryan Stasik [bass]—know just how to communicate with each other on stage and in the studio. A call of progressive guitar wizardry might elicit a response of soft acoustic balladry, or a funk groove could be answered by explosive percussion. At any moment, heavy guitars can give way to heavier blues as the boys uncover the elusive nexus between jaw-dropping instrumental virtuosity and airtight songcraft.
Umphrey’s McGee is a touring powerhouse, performing 85+ shows per year, headlining annual shows across the US including Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado and the Beacon Theatre in New York. Umphrey’s is a constant US festival staple, with performances at major events including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Rothbury, and Bonnaroo, as well as international festivals Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) and Byron Bay Blues Festival (Australia). The band hosts their own festival in Illinois, Summer Camp Music Festival, where they perform three nights and have hosted the likes of Primus, Jane’s Addiction, Thievery Corporation, and Willie Nelson, to name a few. Umphrey’s McGee has also hosted and headlined Jam in the Dam (2005, 2006, 2008, and 2010), a three-night mini-festival at the Melkweg in Amsterdam.