Cinninger’s musical roots trace to Niles upbringing

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Niles has always been Jake Cinninger's home for creativity.
At age 13, he had a studio in the back of his parents house. The small town atmosphere was an ideal location for writing music, Cinninger said.
Cinninger has since traded in the slowed down, small-town pace of Niles for the always-on-the-go lifestyle as guitarist and vocalist in the Chicago-based rock band Umphrey's McGee.
Cinninger's roots still lie in the “simple blue-collar lifestyle” he had growing up near the terminals in Niles. The home of his parents, Craig and Julie, sat on a dead end road in town and provided Cinninger with plenty of room for tearing around the outdoors.
The guitar was not the first instrument Cinninger picked up. He said it started with the drums and eventually moved through other instruments, including the bass guitar, before finally settling on his current instrument of choice. It wasn't all about the multi-track recordings in the homemade studio, though. Cinninger said he was also part of the band at school.
After graduating from Niles High School in 1994, Cinninger started playing shows in South Bend,Ind. bars like Heartland, Madison Oyster Bar and Mickey's Pub with the three-piece group Alibab's Tahini.
To excel in the music business he had to head for the big city and in the fall of 2000, he packed up and joined Umphrey's McGee. The band also includes guitarist and vocalist Brendan Bayliss, keyboardist and vocalist Joel Cummins, bassist Ryan Stasik, drummer Kris Myers and percussionist Andy Farag.
Cinninger said the band's sound is an array of styles all mixed together, but solidly based on rock ‘n roll.
Umphrey's McGee released their third studio album, ‘Safety In Numbers', in April.
Cinninger said the band entered the studio to record their latest release shortly after a close friend of the group, Bryan Schultz, was killed by drunk a driver following a 2004 New Year's Eve show.
Following the song ‘Rocker' that reflects Umphrey's tone of the tragic loss, is Cinninger's tune ‘Liquid'. Cinninger said the song, which begins with an intensely sped up click-clock effect that gives the feeling of time whizzing by, was written while thinking of childhood memories.
Success for Umphrey's has not been limited to the studio. The group has made its mark on the road and has traditionally played at least 150 shows a year, including some popular summer festivals like Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn. and the Chillicothe, Ill. weekend event, Summer Camp.
Getting around has gotten a lot easier, though, as Umphrey's has progressed past the stage of uncomfortable travel.
Progressing up the musical ladder has also provided the group with opportunities to perform at some of the nation's most historic musical venue, including CBGBs in New York.
But, Umphrey's last trip along the west coast, and particularly the pair of shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco, has been Cinninger's favorite to date, he said.
Cinninger said he always preferred working in the studio. The rigor of the road, he added, was harder than grinding out an album.
For now, Umphrey's will spend the summer shooting across the country. The group will end up back in Chicago the weekend of August 4 for Lollapalooza.
But, the real homecoming will be Friday, September 8, when Cinninger and Umphrey's return to South Bend for a show at St. Patrick's Park. One concert that may cause a little hustle and bustle.