Today we look back to February 22, 2007…

UM in the SE

Umphreys McGee kicked off the southeast portion of its winter 2007 tour at Fort Lauderdales Culture Room with a show that gave nods to its past, and one that featured exploratory versions of several band chestnuts. Each set was a sandwich, with the first existing inside of Ocean Billy (from last years Safety In Numbers) and the second framed around Nothing Too Fancy (from 2004s _Anchor Drops_the live recording _ Local Band Does O.K._).

The first set also featured extended takes on Karl Engelmanns Syncopated Strangers and a fan favorite jam launch pad Der Bluten Kat. The band resurrected Water, a rarely-performed song from their Local Band Does Ok (2003) release. The roots of ‘Water’ go back to the previous decade when Ali Babas Tahini (a trio formed by Engelmann, Steve Krojniewski and current Umphreys guitarist Jake Cinninger formed in 1998) and Umphreys McGee were beginning to dominate the South Bend, Indiana music scene.

The band later offered some foreshadowing with their encore of King Crimsons Red,’ a possible nod to the four Midwest dates with King Crimson member Adrian Belew that lie ahead in mid-March.

Tonight, Outformation (featuring the blistering southern guitar of Sam Holt) will open for Umphreys McGee at the State Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida – as they will in Charleston Friday and Charlotte Saturday. Umphreys McGee’s other upcoming dates include a performance at the Georgia Theater in Athens, Georgia on February 28, and at Asheville, North Carolinas Orange Peel March 1 with Engelmann’s current band Mother Vinegar opening.

It was also recently announced that Umphrey’s McGee guitarist and chief vocalist Brendan Bayliss will perform with Cinninger as an acoustic duo at the Chicago History Museum on March 9. Report by Robert Turner

Brenna and the Bomb Squad

The Bomb Squad has confirmed a series of dates with its new vocalist, Brenna Gethers. Gethers, who garnered national attention in 2006 when she was named a finalist on American Idol, debuted with the group late last year and already has already started recording with the band. The Bomb Squad spring tour will start out on March 22nd with a performance at Toads Place in New Haven, after which the band will travel to the Midwest and then head back to its native New England.

Split Lip Rayfield’s Kirk Rundstrom Passes Away at 38

Last February, Split Lip Rayfield announced that it would cancel its upcoming tour because guitarist Kirk Rundstrom had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Earlier today, Rundstrom passed away at his home in Wichita, Kansas as a result of the disease. Rundstrom, who described the bands music in a 2005 interview as aggressive acoustic rock and roll with bluegrass instruments, performed both guitar and dobro with the group. Split Lip Rayfield began as a trio with Rundstrom, Eric Mardis on banjo and Jeff Eaton on one-string bass, while Wayne Gottstine joined on vocals and mandolin the following year.

On its website the band writes, Anybody who knew Kirk knew that he had more zest than all of us. He truly had an ethereal spirit. We have been proud and impressed with the way he went out on his own terms. It wasnt easy, it wasnt fair and it sure as hell isnt right but he was an inspiration. We love him and will miss him.

Chick and Bela

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are currently off until the group starts touring again in early March (including an appearance at Langerado). However, the groups namesake remains active, as he just started a tour with one of his heroes and influences, keyboard player Chick Corea. On Friday night at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Fleck and Corea will resume a brief tour that will take them up to New England (Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford, MA on February 26) and back down the east coast to Florida where they will wrap things up on March 4 at the University of Florida.

Galactic’s Lundi Gras Late Night

Today we began the news with Galactic and so too we end it. Reports are just now filtered in regarding the groups Lundi Gras show at Tipitina’s on Monday night. The band performed three sets with multiple guest musicians, wrapping up the action close to 7AM on Mardi Gras morning. Early on, Galactic performed two songs with the Morning 40 Federation, learning two of the fellow New Orleans groups originals: Dumpsterjuice and Washing Machine. A bit later in the nearly two hour first set, Ivan Neville stepped up for Hell Below, Funky Miracle and Cardova. Second set highlights included a version of Church with Jason Mingledorff, followed by Hamp’s Hump with Mingledorff as well as drummer Kyle Sharamitaro, who sat in for an extended duel with Galactic’s Stanton Moore. The climactic sunrise set offered a Sweetback with the guest duo of Bonerama guitarist Burt Cotton and Vince Herman on washboard, along with a notable passage from Black Eyed Pea into Trampled Under Foot and once again into Black Eyed Pea, before the fitting close with Quiet Please. Galactics next show is on March 8 at the Orlando House of Blues. Additional reporting by Michael Carmody