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Concert Thu Dec 12 2013

Review: Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger Acoustic Holiday Show


(Photos by Brianna Kelly)

Christmas spirit was all-aglow in Park West on Saturday night for the 11th Annual Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger Acoustic Holiday Show. The halls were decked from the venue's entrance to the stage. People in red and green, some donning festive hats and gaudy sweaters, eagerly filed in to find a spot and post up for the sold-out show that benefited The People's Music School.

The stage was converted into a makeshift family room, complete with all of the comforts of home. The two guitarists from local jam band Umphrey's McGee, Brendan and Jake, sat next to each other on a couch as they strummed away on their acoustic guitars. The atmosphere was very intimate, which paired nicely with the stripped-down tone of the performance.

They kicked off the show with a slew of unplugged Umphrey's originals. Some already featured acoustic guitars, like the melodious "The Pequod," and others did not, like the usually bass-heavy "Puppet Strings."


One of the most special things about a show that takes two incredibly high-energy musicians and puts them in a laid back setting is how comfortable they are with the audience. The banter was a lot of fun because they talked more openly about their songs than usual. It was basically like a behind the scenes peek at the main creative geniuses of Umphrey's.

Before they played "Passing," Brendan announced it was one of his favorite songs he's written with Jake. The crowd was able to get a sense of which songs they had collaborated on together, especially which ones they were most proud of.

The show seemed to get progressively more exciting with each song. "Cut the Cable" was a crowd favorite because it's only been played several times since Umphrey's debuted it a year ago. But, what followed was even more special.

While segueing into the next tune, Brendan told the crowd this was the first song he learned how to play on guitar. He then dedicated it to the extended Umphrey's family. The crowd was captivated from the first few, very distinguishable chords of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."

Throughout the show, Brendan and Jake were able to show off their skills on multiple instruments. That, too, was a rare sight, compared to many of their regular shows.

Brendan busted out the mandolin for a "Great American" sandwich, in between a Pearl Jam cover and "No Comment." He also played a piano solo to Dave Matthews Band's "Christmas Song."

After that, Jake came back onto the stage with the special guest, Umphrey's McGee drummer Kris Myers. Jake said the drum kit on stage was his son's and in order to borrow it, he had to bribe him with milk and cookies.

They jumped right in and continued with a hearty mix of originals and covers, many of which seldom make an appearance on Umphrey's set lists. They started with "Gulf Stream," featuring Kris on drums, Jake on guitar and Brendan on piano.


After a couple more songs, Jake picked up the bass and the trio played "Hangover," which really added a new dynamic to the performance. A lot of people who were seated at tables on the floor got up, started dancing and shouting the lyrics "all night long." Brendan also made a nice little alter to a string of lyrics and sang "get loose at the Park West."

Brendan told the crowd they would play Kris's favorite song, the only one request he had for his appearance. Much to the delight of the crowd, it was a song that's usually saved for very special shows. "Front Porch," which was one of Umphrey's very first songs that has stood the test of 15 years, served as the perfect ending to the set.

The announcement of raffle winners, spanning from restaurant gift cards to music festival tickets, gave the guys a quick break before the encore. Then Brendan, Jake and Kris came back onto the stage to spread some more Christmas cheer.


Jake on drums and Kris pretending to be Robert De Niro in a spoken-word rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Then came a special rendition of Black Sabbath's "Black Santa" with Christmas lyrics, which Brendan dedicated to his sister for getting him into the metal band at a very young age. He also pointed to a member of the audience who was wearing a Green Bay Santa hat and said, "Please have the Packer fan in the front row removed," as the rest of the crowd, including his date, cheered.

To finish off the night, Brendan, Jake and Kris debuted a new cover that they've never performed before, Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Breaking the Girl," and one last original, "No Diablo," which is another one of Umphrey's newer songs.

The show was definitely for diehard Umphrey's fans who wanted to see a few of their favorite musicians in a different light. The payoff was huge, as it was a diverse and beautiful night of music.

Set List:
Soul Food I > Puppet String > Dim Sun > The Pequod, Passing, Uncommon > Puppet Strings, Bad Poker, Cut the Cable, Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), Great American > Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town (Pearl Jam) > Great American > No Comment > Great American*, Christmas Song (DMB) $, Gulf Stream $$, On Your Way Down (Little Feat) %, Hajimemashite %, Hangover %#, Crazy Fingers (Grateful Dead) %, Front Porch %#

Santa Claus is Coming to Town ***** Jake on drums, Kris as Robert DeNiro on vox, Black Santa (Black Sabbath w/ alternate lyrics about Santa) %&, Breaking the Girl (RHCP) %#, No Diablo $$

*BB on Mando
$BB solo piano
$$ BB on piano w/ Kris on drums
% w/ Kris on drums
# Jake on bass
& BB on bass

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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