Umphrey’s McGee New York Musical Gumbo

Nine shows in four days, from the Apple Store to the Brooklyn Bowl? Umphrey's McGee aren't your average band...

From Tuesday, September 6th to Friday, September 9th, Umphrey’s McGee played eight full sets at Brooklyn Bowl (a bowling alley-concert venue hybrid) and one at the Apple Store in SoHo to promote their new album, ‘Death By Stereo’. While the Chicago-based band has played in New York many times since their formation at Notre Dame in 1997, this concert series carries special importance for the fans here.

“They run with the Jam-Band crowd, which isn’t very popular in New York.” says 23-year-old David Del Sol. He hopes that these shows bring a larger fan base to the metropolitan area so he can see them more often.

While the band certainly uses long improvisational sections, many fans disagree with labelling them as a “jam-band”. David Carvell from New City, New York prefers, “prog-rock,” while Zach Munday from Long Island calls their sound “musical gumbo.”

You can see what he means with their first song, ‘Jazz Odyssey.’ Joel Cummins opens their first song with electronic sounds from his keyboards, before Kris Myers brings in drums with Andy Farag providing additional percussion. The intricate guitar riffs and virtuoso solos by Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger on top of Ryan Stasik’s pounding bass line have a dark, heavy metal feel before quickly moving into a lighter, Trey Anastasio-like style. They change again moments later, now sounding reminiscent of early Aerosmith.

What’s remarkable is that after nine full sets in four days, Umphrey’s McGee hasn’t repeated a single track. If their original songs, like the funky ‘Push the Pig,’ and the heavy metal, ‘Wizard Burial Ground,’ didn’t prove their musical range, their cover songs hammer it home. Tonight, they play Van Halen’s, ‘Hot for the Teacher,’ The Who’s ‘Eminence Front,’ and ‘Waterfalls,” from TLC.

In between these songs is the improvisation, which the band calls ‘Jimmy Stewarts.’ Bayliss acts a sort of conductor for the band, using hand signs and facial expressions to direct changes. Friday afternoon at the Apple Store, Bayliss went backstage during a Jimmy Stewart based on Miles Davis’s ‘Who Knows?’ to conduct the band using Apple’s Facetime software.

The sudden changes in style and tempo can leave someone unfamiliar with their style feeling a little lost. But the sold-out crowd here doesn’t seem to mind, and are always dancing along right with them. For many of them, it’s their favourite part about Umphrey’s McGee.

“It’s fist-bumping, head-banging combined with the hips-shakin’,” says Rachel Kurland, a 39-year-old New Yorker that has abandoned her bowing game to dance.

On Tuesday, Umphrey’s McGee played with Bob Weir, a founding memeber of The Grateful Dead, and Biz Markie on Thursday. It would have been nice to see a special guest for Friday night’s finale, but the fans don’t seem to mind.

“Tonight takes the cake as far as song selection and improv goes,” says Conor Seery, who roadtripped from Colorado to see all of their New York performances. “They always have a smile by the end of the show.”

At the end of the night, it was the fans who were smiling the most.

Their new album is due out Tuesday, September 13th. This show, and all other Umphrey’s McGee concerts can be downloaded.8/10
Images by Brian Spady, provided by Umphrey’s McGee and Shore Fire media.


Photography “process piece” – Helado stand in Drew Hamilton Houses

Please ignore the time stamps in the lower right corner. A student that used the camera before me decided to change the language into some form of Chinese characters, and I was unable to figure out how to them off.


Photo Assignment #1: 08/17/2011 BoomBox Concert @ Bowery Ballroom, New York City

All photos by Ryan Neal

Responses to Tips for Social Media.

1. Effective ways for journalists to use social media: With twitter, you can quickly and easily aggregate information. Rather than sift through dozens of blogs, websites, and newspapers/magazines, you can follow the publications and journalists you are interested in and keep up to date. You can even separate the data into different lists to get data on specific topics. Important things will get retweeted, and you can share information you find important with your followers. It is also a quick and easy way to develop a readership and continually provide them with new content. In the case of breaking news, twitter can be used effectively to provide up to the minute details. 

In addition to job hunting, learning more about possible companies you would like to work for, and building professional connections, LinkedIn is great for searching for sources. Not only can you search for specific people that work in a certain job, you can search for previous jobs. People that used to work at a certain place may have looser lips than people that currently work there. Also, they may feel more comfortable talking through LinkedIn that other social media.Facebook pages are a great way to outwardly display your work to rest of the world without worrying about who sees it. With impressions, you can get an understanding of how many people are reading your work and what sort of reactions they have to it. This can provide great information for future stories.

2. 10 Sample Tweets sent After Aug. 4th
  1. Yah me too RT @alexanderabnos Wow, I just slept a lot. Thinking of it as building equity for the upcoming 10 months with #cuj12
  2. @mbloudoff and I wanna go to a Met’s game before @columbiajourngets too crazy. Any other #cuj12 down? Tickets are pretty cheap
  3. hope some #cuj12 students pay extra attention to 12:30-14:00 of 1st video in @sree online social media lecture
  4. I have a free ticket to see @thisisBoomBox @ the Bowery Ballroom the 17th. Would love a new #cuj12 friend to join. Anyone down?
  5. @rhprocter Why is that? Oh well, done for the day. To the bar! Come join me #cuj12 All work no play makes ryan a dull boy
  6. why do some #cuj12 Students feel the need to constantly tweet facts they hear during lectures, and then retweet those facts to eachother?
  7. Speaker talked about maps. Download one 4 your smartphome instead so you can check it w/o looking like a tourist. Many are free.#cuj12
  8. @SergeyNow @rhprocter across the street @ M to M… better coffee and food, much cheaper, and no lines during break! #cheapeats #cuj12
  9. Thank you @StoryCorps for the amazing and inspirational… presentation? Doesn’t seem like the right word… at #cuj12 today
  10. Feels like I couldn’t be more connected! Tweeting, soundclouding, vimeo-ing, wordpressing and LinkedIn. #cuj12
3. 5 Journalists I have started following after August 4th. 
  1. d3wic (Dewi Cooke) – A recent graduate of Columbia’s Journalism program, she tweeted an amazing list of must-do things in NYC as a student before we leave.
  2. rhprocter (Richard Procter) – Another recent graduate of the J-school that created a helpful blog of tips and advice for the incoming class of 2012.
  3. BGrueskin (Bill Grueskin) – First of all, I wanted his insight into business journalism, which I am ignorant about, but I also heard a rumor that he was leaving the J-School, and I wanted to know what was going on because at one point I was scheduled to be in his class.
  4. JoshElliottABC (Josh Elliott) – He gave an amazing talk at open house, and an even better one at the opening day, and his personal biography matches mine in several uncanny ways.
  5. ReporterLeslie (Leslie Albrecht) – She covers the Upper West Side for DNAinfo, an area we will be occasionally covering in RW1, as well as the area I go to school and live.
4. Now that I am in J-school, I’m going to un-tag even more photos to make my page even more “adult” and professional. When I get the time go through and delete college acquaintances that I no longer remember who they are, and assign the rest of my friends to lists, and create new ones for colleagues, family, etc. I have always been pretty good with privacy settings, but I will double check everything. I am also going to get more strict about editing what is posted on my wall. Finally, I want to create a Facebook Journalism page and post some of my previously published work as well as future work.

Law Assignment

1. Elements of defamation, whether it be slander or libel:

  1. Statement must be false. In the U.S. it is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove a statement is false.
  2. It must be a statement of fact, not opinion.
  3. It must be published and made available to someone else, and this includes text messages and email. If it is said or written directly to the person it is about, it cannot be considered defamation.
  4. Must be about a specific person or identity, and that includes a company.
  5. It must be defamatory/negative in a social sense. That is, it is not considered defamation to “rat out” a criminal, even though it damages that person’s reputation, because stopping the crime is considered positive to society.
  6. It must cause harm, a.k.a damage someone’s reputation.
2. No, you should never assume a false identity when accessing electronic information, even if someone with access to that information gives you their login and password. It is never allowable. 
3. There is no strict rule for how much time you should give your sources. You want to give them as much time as you can given the circumstances. If it is a simple fact that they should know off the top of their head, then there is no need to give them time at all. If it is a complex fact where some research is needed, then giving them time to get back to you is reasonable.
4. There is no rule about reading back quotes to a source. Some do it, others do not. If you tell them that you will, then you should. If you feel like doing it for accuracy, then feel free, but the best policy is to do it right at the end of the interview.

Audio postcard/process piece – The Brownstone Lounge

Needs more work on the sound mixing!

Host Intro:
A new, upscale lounge has just opened in an unexpected place – on Frederick Douglas between 140th and 141st. The lounge brings some downtown Manhattan style to the Drew Hamilton housing project area of Harlem.
Ryan Neal reports.

Business of Journalism Assignment

Three trends that have significantly changed economic models for news organizations in the digital age:

  1. The Pew study mentioned in the article and the lecture shows that people aged 18-29 are getting more news from the Internet than Television for the first time. At the same time, this online usage is moving away from computer screens and onto mobile platforms. While this allows for more targeted advertising and faster audience building, it does not always equal increased advertising revenue. Further, there is now such an abundance of information and options of sources for readers to choose from, information has become a commodity. This has driven down the price through competition.
  1. Digital journalism also fundamentally alters the way in which stories are distributed  In the past, newspapers made money through aggregation – having many different targeted sections and bundling them together, such as sections on “sports,” “food,” and “entertainment.” This allowed newspapers to sell their content to a variety of advertisers who were looking to target different people, and charge them a higher rate on the assumption that every single page in the newspaper was being read. With digital journalism, it is easy to get an exact count on how many times a story is being read. The advertising value is decreased. At the same time, digital aggregation is very easy, as people can just get the information they want from targeted sources or aggregation sites like Drudge Report or Huffington Post. These sites cost less than content-creators, have huge benefits for the reader, and completely change the traditional “packaging” model for print news. Also, digital journalism eliminates the need for printing factories and delivery trucks, and can rely on their readers and viewers to distribute their content through social networking and email.
  1. Digital journalism also fundamentally changes the consumer’s experience. One the one hand, publishers can very quickly, easily, and cheaply gather detailed demographic information about their customers. In turn, they can sell this to advertisers at a higher rate. On the other hand, online media loses the immersive, “lean back” style that is provided by newspapers, magazines, and broadcast. They quickly jump from website to website, equaling fewer page views and less time spent on the websites, which makes the pages much less valuable to advertisers.

Three advantages that a new, digitally based news company has over a traditional print or broadcast organization:

  1. Through digital aggregation, news relevant to a specific audience can be assembled cheaply and easily. Rather than fight the concept, it can generate real value. It can quickly and cheaply generate a lot of readership, and loyalty within that readership.
  2. Digital media allows for publishers to employ readers to distribute and publicize stories. This saves a lot of expenses that were necessary for physical distribution in traditional organizations, such as delivery trucks and broadcast towers. Further, it helps to validate the journalist’s work – when their story goes viral it is quickly read by thousands of people across the globe. A journalist can create a “feedback loop” by using the comments and discussions generated by their stories as way to create new or follow-up stories.
  3. Digital platforms can be used to do things that are not possible with traditional models. Examples include engines about restaurants and whats going on around town (such as in New York Magazine), and blogs geared towards what very specific audiences want. The Dallas Morning News use of the web to cover high school football in an unprecedented way is another excellent example. These creative ideas also draw views to the main website and skyrocket page views, which in turn increase advertising revenue.

Three advantages that a traditional print or broadcast organization has over a new, digitally based news company:

  1. Traditional print and broadcast organizations are much more immersive, and digital media has been unable to recreate that. People often relax in their couch and watch a majority of a news program or read a newspaper/magazine. Websites tend to get 3-4 minutes of attention per user, per month. This greatly diminishes the value of advertisements on websites.
  2. Traditional organizations can always alter the amount of pages in print or broadcast time to accommodate advertising demands. With digital it is up to the readers how many pages are created, and therefore how many ads that can sell. Publishers must undersell their website. For example, when the Guardian broke the story on the phone hacking scandal, their web traffic doubled and sometimes tripled. But they had no way of knowing this would happen when selling ad space. They had to fill the pages with cheezy ads that only sell for a fraction of the price as normal ads.
  3. Digital Advertising is also a work in progress, and the results are not always as effective as they are in traditional media organizations. People find ads in print to be just as informative, useful, and engaging as the rest of the content, and it is well known how entertaining television ads can be. With the exception of high-volume and highly targeted sites such as facebook and google, online ads are unable to be this engaging.