Weekend's best bet: Umphrey's McGee at Rams Head Live

If you could care less about this year's Grammys (wouldn't blame you there) or the Allen Stone show at the 8x10 isn't your thing, there's the Umphrey's McGee show at Rams Head Live on Sunday night.

I've made the mistake of calling Umphrey's a "jam band" — a label for bands I say I'm allergic to because I never got into Phish. But I have persistent friends (the same friends that drop whatever they're doing whenever Umphrey's McGee is in the area) that told me they weren't Phish-lite. I had learned my lesson after talking about the overused and frankly unfair "jam band" generalization with the Bridge, but I needed proof. So a friend (thanks, Brian) sent me here: B List: Umphrey’s McGee’s Musical Tributes

Like many of its peers, the Chicago band is known for its live covers, but this was something personal: it was a collection of Umphrey's recordings, all paying tribute to artists that recently passed away. It's a telling list (it includes covers of TLC, Pantera and Etta James to name a few), not only showing the group's tastes and influences, but also illustrating the band's confidence in its playing. Their comfort zone is like the karaoke list at Walt's Inn (read: vast, in case you've never had the joy of performing at the wonderful Canton dive), but more importantly, the covers prove the band is unafraid of complex parts, while consistently maintaining a smooth (but not "easy-listening") groove. If intricate live music impresses you, there's something to like here.

A final, cool Baltimore fact: the list includes Umphrey's performing Waylon Jennings' "Good Ol' Boys" back in 2002 at the 8x10.

The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets, $25, are available here.

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