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An Interview with Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey's McGee Live at Red Rocks

In anticipation of their triumphant return to Colorado for a 3-night run at Red Rocks, we had a chance to sit down with Umphrey’s McGee lead singer and guitarist Brendan Bayliss, keyboard wizard Joel Cummins, and longtime band sound-caresser and manager Kevin Browning.

Umphrey’s enters their 21st year touring the nation and is known for pushing the boundaries in the jam scene and innovating creative ways to engage with fans. They gave us the inside scoop on their relationship with cannabis, their two new limited-run cannabis vape pens “Day Nurse” and “Night Nurse” (available exclusively at Lightshade in Colorado), and how both Denver-based MedPharm and Lightshade got involved.

So, you’ve got 3 days at Red Rocks coming up. What makes performing at Red Rocks different from other venues?

``Red Rocks is simply the most incredible place for music in our country, for both the musicians and the fans. It’s awe-inspiring, just the coolest place to stand on a stage and let the music flow.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

Cannabis has been legal here in Colorado for a long time. Does that make your shows feel different when compared to other states that haven’t legalized adult-use, for example compared to when you perform in Indiana?

``They definitely smell different!``

— Brendan Bayliss | Lead Singer/Guitarist Umphrey’s McGee

``I think the fans can relax and enjoy themselves a little more when they know security is not trying to bust them. So, in a way it just makes the shows a little more fun for everyone.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey's McGee Live at Red Rocks

What role does cannabis play in your music, in all aspects from songwriting to performing?

``It’s always been a source of inspiration; it can help you to lock yourself into a zone and be focused or get lost in the woods.``

— Brendan Bayliss | Lead Singer/Guitarist Umphrey’s McGee

``It’s definitely a boon in both creativity and focus. There aren’t many things in life that can simultaneously allow you to relax and focus. So, it’s nice to have as an option for those who want to get on the path.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

When did cannabis first become a part of your lives, and how were you introduced to it? What were your initial reactions?

``I was in a forest in South Bend in what is now the Eddy Street Commons. I didn’t think it was working so I took a bunch of hits. I was suddenly 50 yards to the left in a bush. I also thought the traffic helicopters knew what we were up to. So I went into a Notre Dame football game and promptly burned the roof of my mouth on some hot chocolate. It was kind of intense. But I grew to love it.``

— Brendan Bayliss | Lead Singer/Guitarist Umphrey’s McGee

``I went to see Bob Dylan at The Chicago Theatre as a sophomore in high school. I and my band mates at the time had a dugout with a metal bat that we fired up in a car in a parking garage. I got a couple good hits but didn’t really understand what I was doing and blew the cherry out on the third try.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey's McGee Live at Red Rocks

You’re doing something new with the Day Nurse and Night Nurse pens. What made you decide to take a step beyond being cannabis fans to creating and promoting an actual cannabis product?

``It’s a very natural concept for us to do something with cannabis. We’ve made a Nothing Too Fancy Pale Ale and a couple other short run beer projects in the past, and we know many of our fans enjoy cannabis as well as beer. Day Nurse & Night Nurse are of course two much-loved Umphrey’s McGee songs, the naming process made lots of sense to us.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

``The stigma that has long surrounded cannabis in the U.S. has finally, and sensibly, began to lift. We’ve discussed it for years and feel like the conditions are finally right, there is no putting this genie back in the bottle. American lawmakers seem to have finally realized that maybe having access to taxed and regulated marijuana won’t result society crashing down up us.``

— Kevin Browning | Sound-Caresser/Manager

And what can fans expect from the new, limited-edition Day Nurse and Night Nurse vapes?

``With the Day Nurse vape you have the energizing, uplifting experience of a sativa blend and the Night Nurse indica oil will be more of a deep, relaxing buzz. You’ve got two great options depending on which direction you’d like to go.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

``Everything you need and nothing you don’t. We feel great about the two profiles we’ve put together with “the nurses,” one for your daytime go get ‘em needs and another for your dial it down desires.``

— Kevin Browning | Sound-Caresser/Manager

Why did you decide to partner with MedPharm/Batch?

``Tim has been an acquaintance of ours for many years and has always been someone who wanted to reach out and help, whether it was needing backline keyboards or an entirely new venue for a show. So, when he approached us with this idea, we were of course intrigued.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

``My father has forever instilled in me that when you do something, do it right the first time. We’ve passed on a handful partnerships when we didn’t feel the confident about the operation from soup to nuts. With MedPharm/Batch, we saw a partner as detail oriented and self-contained as UM. From an in-house chemist to ensure the highest possible quality to a killer design team and everything in between, this felt like the fit we’d been waiting for.``

— Kevin Browning | Sound-Caresser/Manager

Why did you partner with Lightshade?

``Lightshade was a natural extension of the MedPharm/Batch partnership. Their quality reputation as one of Colorado’s most trusted dispensaries mirrored our desire to keep the expectations high. Killer service, knowledgeable staff and an eye towards community and philanthropic support feels like a good for The Nurses.``

— Kevin Browning | Sound-Caresser/Manager

Do you have a favorite strain?

``My personal favorites include Cali Star, Chocolope, Strawberry Cough & Green Crack. They’re all very similar in that they are motivational, uplifting and delightfully tasty strains as well as being consistent.``

— Brendan Bayliss | Lead Singer/Guitarist Umphrey’s McGee

How about a favorite way to consume?

``Pax 2 or 3 with flower because you can specific with your flavor profile and it’s a healthier option than combustion for a singer. The different settings vary from pure vape to smoke and in between.``

— Brendan Bayliss | Lead Singer/Guitarist Umphrey’s McGee

``I still prefer flower when possible. The taste and the buzz are unparalleled, especially with all of the industry advancements over the years.``

— Joel Cummins | Keyboards Umphrey’s McGee

Any additional comments you’d like to make to the Umphree’s fans out there?

``I’m just pleased to see the evolution on the thinking of cannabis in our society. Legalization is an idea that overdue. The fact that you can pick up an AR-15 and a case of Bourbon on the way home but could land in jail for “having a little grass in your pocket” (as my mom would say), doesn’t strike me as particularly sensical. Like any cognitive or conscious altering substance, it needs to be treated with caution, respect & moderation but let’s make sure we’re talking apples to apples. Legalization is a criminal justice issue, a racial issue and a class issue and while so many problems in our society are exceedingly complex to solve, this doesn’t isn’t one of them. I’m pleased to see we’re making some progress in this country and approaching the issue with a little more common sense.``

— Kevin Browning | Sound-Caresser/Manager

Umphrees McGee & Lightshade Dispensary

Click here to find out more about the limited-run Umphree’s McGee Day Nurse and Night Nurse vape pens. Don’t hit snooze on this one- these will go fast, and once they’re gone, they’re gone for good!

ORDER ONLINE