Matt Jackfert Published

Joel Cummins of Umphrey's McGee Talks New Woodlands Festival, Piano Workouts & Debussy


“It’s a place that’s kind of our second home at this point.” That’s what pianist Joel Cummins says about Charleston, SC, the location of a new music festival, the Woodlands Festival. The event is being put together by Joel’s band, Umphrey’s McGee themselves, for its inagural run this November 7th, 8th and 9th. He says the location looks to be on a beautiful 6000-acre nature preserve, and, says talent will abound with a lineup that has the likes of Big Something, The Empire Strikes Brass, Zach Deputy, and of course, Umphrey’s McGee. You can still find tickets, including single-day passes here

Joel is clearly passionate about Charleston and the Woodlands festival as you’ll hear in the interview. He also discusses his love of Claude Debussy piano pieces (as well as Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin), which he often features on his solo piano shows. “I think it’s just so important to pass that on to listeners,” he says. Joel also discusses how Impressionist music like Debussy’s that fits into the what the Umphrey’s sound is. Umphrey’s even quotes Mozart and Grieg in their songs “Der Bluten Kat” and “Thin Air” respectively as discussed below.


Joel’s a pretty cool guy.

Joel also talks about his new book, The Realist’s Guide to a Successful Music Career, which is about… a realist’s guide to a successful music career. It features discussions with some of the greats of music: Huey Lewis, Susan Tedeschi, Victor Wooten, Ivan Neville, Taylor Hicks, Chuck Leavell (music director for the Rolling Stones), and more. You can purchase a copy online here. He’s also a pretty cool guy, so check out the interview below…