Last Friday, Umphrey’s McGee wrapped-up a two-night run at Urbana, IL’s The Canopy Club. The group opened its set with “Dump City” and “August,” before segueing into the first performance of a new song named “Keefer.” As keyboardist Joel Cummins explains on the group’s official blog, the band wrote and recorded the new song in honor of Chris Keefer, a friend and fan of the group who had recently passed away.
“We heard the news about the passing of our friend, fan and wonderful human being, Chris Keefer, on early Friday morning,” Cummins wrote. “It hit us like a ton of bricks and caught us all by surprise. There really aren’t words that can capture the feeling of losing a good soul like Chris. I’ll never forget arriving in Jamaica for the first time to find a hand-written note from Chris, detailing how much he was looking forward to the weekend and that we would have dinner one of those nights. There were many notes, trinkets and interactions that followed this, and many more that happened with each of the guys in the band. Getting to spend some quality time at that dinner in Jamaica with Chris and his equally sweet wife Susan is something I’ll never forget. When you were in his presence, you were moved by his smile, his unassuming wit and the twinkle in his eye – you got how much zest for life this man had, and that he wanted to share it with you. Why is it that the good ones always seem to go early? Chris was one of my favorite people to look down and see on the rail. Always engaged, always having a good time and always there for the love of the music.”
Friday’s performance also featured appearances by Strange Arrangement keyboardist Joe Hettinga on “Cemetery Walk II” and former Umphrey’s McGee Lighting Designer Adam Budney on vocals for a show-closing version of Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun.”