It was like Black Friday all over again at the USTORM Umphrey's McGee Garage Sale, held just prior to Brendan and Jake's 8th Annual Holiday Show. The Garage Sale was an opportunity for Umphreaks to pick up some vintage merch. It was also a good way for Umphrey's to clear out the warehouse, and help the kids at the same time. Hundreds of posters and t-shirts were flying off the tables for as little as $5. Santa Ryan Stasik was on hand for good girls and boys to take a photo on his lap.
It was obvious throughout the evening that this event was totally for the children. The entertainment was primarily for adults, but the spirit was one of giving and helping. To start off the musical part of the night, the Albany Park Children's Choir sang a couple Christmas carols and Brendan and Jake took the stage, seated on a big stuffed couch, and played So This Is Christmas, with the Children's Choir singing back-up. This definitely put everyone in the holiday spirit. The USTORM folks presented the children with a $3000 check, which I'm sure was just a down payment on more charitable giving to come.
USTORM is a non-profit organization aimed at raising funds to help needy children and young adults improve their lives by providing access to various music and art educational programs: "United So Together Our Reach Multiplies." Founded in Chicago by Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's McGee, Barry Brown of Jack Straw, Mike LeMaistre of Jam Productions and Kevin Kostelecky of The Store 'Til 4, USTORM has donated over $55,000 to various music and art educational schools and programs.
The evening was so full of interesting and noteworthy events, I'm going to put them in bullet form, because otherwise this would turn into one long run-on paragraph. Also, I didn't take any notes, and afterward, Kevin Browning told me that the recording wouldn't be available on the UMLive network, so I'm trying to remember them on the fly here.
The Umphrey’s tune Sweetness came early in the set, with a Led Zep Over the Hills and Far Away tease.
Brendan convinced Jake to sing Eric Clapton's Bellbottom Blues, which he said Jake didn't normally like to perform, but was "taking one for the team" tonight.
Throughout the evening, both Jake and Brendan played the bass. Brendan also pulled out the mandolin that his mother got him for Christmas two years ago. He asked someone to get a picture (which I did) to prove to his mom that he's using it. He said next he wants a banjo.
Andy Farag sat in on the drums/percussion for many songs. He was sporting a new beard. Jake said that Andy was his favorite band member because he's generally quiet, but when he says something, it's usually profound. He called him, "silent but deadly."
Brendan moved over to the piano and played the UM tune, Morning Song, as well as the John Lennon song, Jealous Guy, commemorating the 30th anniversary of his murder.
Allie Kral from Cornmeal and Mike Rackey on pedal steel guitar came on stage and did Great American > Susanah > Great American.
Jake sat down at the piano and played a little, then returned to the couch and they played the CSN&Y tune, Teach Your Children.
The acoustic version of In the Kitchen was a big highlight of the evening. Everyone was singing along. It was definitely "cold in the kitchen" in Chicago last night with about six inches of snow on the ground.
During the show, the musicians were passing around a bottle of Jameson's Irish Whiskey. Even Allie took a belt.
First encore song, was HaveYourself a Merry Little Christmas, sung by Michelle Hallman. Man, this lady really has some pipes!
The next encore was a Kink’s cover tune, Ape Man, which according to Phantasy Tour, hasn’t been played since February 2002.
The final encore song was Steely Dan's Dirty Work, which included Ryan Stasik on bass and Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet.
All in all it was a really fun evening. And, based on the crowd's and the musician's enthusiasm, there will be a 9th Annual Brendan and Jake's Holiday show.
Setlist, thanks to ohkeepahblog.com :
So This Is Christmas$#, Sweetness* > Passing, Resolution&, Bell Bottom Blues, Turn and Dub^, A Second^@, Nothing Too Fancy^ > Mellow Mood#^, Morning Song**, Christmas Time is Here**, Jealous Guy**, Bad Poker^, Great American^%+ > Susanah^%+! > Great American^%+, Dirty Old Town^^%+^%%, End of the Road^+, "Rocking chair speaks slowly as Sinatra sings the blues?"&&^!!, Teach Your Children^@@, Bullhead City^@@, In the Kitchen^
Encore: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas@@, Ape Man, Dirty Work$$**
Notes: $ With the Kids Choir # Jake on Bass * Over The Hills and Far Away teases & Carol of the Bells and Deck the Halls teases ^ Andy Farag on perc/drums @ Karl Engleman cover ** Brendan on piano % Allie Krall on fiddle + Mike Rackey on steel pedal ! Barry Brown on piano ^^ The Pogues cover %% Brendan on mandolin && Jake on piano !! Brendan on bass @@ Michelle Hallman on vocals $$ Jen Hartswick on trumpet, Ryan Stasik on bass