Photograph by Shervin Lainez
When I first heard the music of Umphrey’s McGee, it was on a radio station that failed to identify the band, leaving me to assume I’d just heard one of the best Rush tunes since “A Farewell to Kings.” Imagine my surprise when I plugged a few of the lyrics into Google later that day and discovered I’d been grooving on a progressive jazz-rock fusion band from South Bend, Indiana named Umphrey’s McGee, which I previously assumed from the name to be just another folkie Americana group with too much banjo and not enough cowbell. Now that they’ve been around for over 20 years, with more than 2000 concerts to their credit, they’ve evolved into a Grateful Dead–like cult-rock road show that matches an immersive high-tech presentation with an old-fashioned gospel revival. Their most recent two studio albums were released several months apart, It’s Not Us followed by It’s You. NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED
- Friday, March 13, 2020, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
Featuring former members of Super Groupie and Viva Apollo, Creature Canyon describes its music as “Irish-American fiddle folk punk that’s like Foo Fighters meets Flogging Molly, with a dash of Frank Turner and NOFX.” Their debut full-length Life I Know — recorded with engineer Bryan Zullo at Studio West, Pacific Beat, and Steele Studios — was promoted with a single for the title track that was named a 91X Local Break song. The track, mixed and mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer and producer Alan Sanderson (Rolling Stones, etc.), was also shot as a video by director Mitchell Harris. They won a $2000 second-place prize at the 2017 San Diego County Fair’s battle-of-the bands contest, and a seven-song EP was released the following year, Did You Want That. They’re working on a new album produced by Private Island frontman Christian Lum, mixed and engineered by Mike Schuppan (Foster the People, Young the Giant). The bill includes the Jacks, founded by the late Beat Farmers guitarist Buddy Blue, which has featured at various times Jack Pinney (Iron Butterfly), Chris Sullivan (the Penetrators), and Mighty Joe Longa (Joey Harris and the Mentals).
- Saturday, March 14, 2020, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$20 - $35
Specializing in Americana-meets-Northern Soul, stirred up with old-school folk, Delta Spirit was essentially born when two members of Noise Ratchet came across singer Matt Vasquez busking at a local trolley station. They first garnered attention while touring with Tokyo Police Club, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and their Monarchy Music labelmates Cold War Kids. The group’s rootsy debut EP ranked number nine on the Best of ‘07 list at the influential music blog Daytrotter. and they scored a minor radio hit with “Trashcan,” though their onstage penchant for things like playing trash can lids as instruments during that track sometimes baffled audiences expecting FM radio rock. They recorded an album in Julian, later picked up by Rounder Records, and made their network TV debut in 2008 on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Their two-song set on Jimmy Kimmel Live can be viewed on YouTube, as can an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman, and they played the 2011 Coachella music fest. The band hasn’t released a new full-length since their fourth album in 2014, Into the Wide, which reached number 70 on the Billboard 200 chart, their highest U.S. rank to date. The scarcity of new material may be why they’re calling this the Not Dead Yet tour.
Escondido guitarist Jimmy Patton won Best Unsigned Guitarist in the Nation at the 2001 Guitarmageddon, a Guitar Center sponsored competition. He is renowned for his ability to play two separate guitars at the same time, playing both melody and accompaniment parts simultaneously. Patton has performed at music festivals in Hawaii and Colombia and has opened for Stanley Jordan and Terrance Blanchard. Aside from his busy performance schedule and recording albums for local label Pacific Records, the Chula Vista High alum — a married father of a grade school-age son — is equally active with recording, arranging, and producing albums for other world-music artists. Patton frequently plays Latin jazz, blues, reggae, and funk at venues such as My Yard Live, Orfila Winery, and the Belching Beaver. He also has an acoustic duo with percussionist Enrique Platas, which was personally invited to tour Colombia by that country’s government. They perform every other Friday at Cocina del Charro in San Marcos.
- Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 8 p.m.
2501 Kettner Boulevard,
$8 - $10
Formed in 2007, Americana fiddle rockers Lexington Field have recorded and performed their own takes on classic traditional tunes like “The Old Black Rum,” “Pretty Irish Girl,” “The Wild Rover,” and “Molly Malone,” as well as creating original songs such as “My Dream” and “City That We Love.” Asked about the band’s worst gig, singer-guitarist Beau Gray recalls the time they played a Firehouse Foundation Benefit Concert in 2010. “It was one of our first shows with Vince [drums] and Casey [bass] in the band, and our fiddle player Cami couldn’t make the show. We put a sloppy mess of a set together, and clumsily made it through an agonizing 30 minutes. Another musician from one of the other bands told us right after our performance, ‘Nice set,’ and Casey immediately responded, ‘Want to get beat up?’ It was so bad, but we did recover, and realized Cami wasn’t allowed to miss any more shows.” Cami Smith ended up taking a three-year hiatus, though she’d returned by the time they debuted a new holiday single last December, “Christmas at the Pub.” The bill includes the Downs Family (mixing traditional Irish folk tunes with genres like bluegrass, polka, punk, and blues) and Action Andy & the Hi-Tones.