Each day this week we’ve been presenting a different version of the Umphrey’s McGee classic Hajimemashite to show the evolution of the tune over the years. We started with a studio take recorded by Brendan Bayliss and Ryan Stasik’s pre-UM band Tashi Station on Monday and continued yesterday with a version from Umphrey’s first live album Songs For Older Women. Today, we present our first of two Haj videos, with this one coming from the group’s only performance in Japan at the 2006 Fuji Rock Festival.
[Photo from stage during Hajimemashite]
When guitarist Jake Cinninger joined the band in 2000, Haj was one of the tunes that underwent a major transformation. “It opened [Hajimemashite] wide open. We now had something to add at the end, after an emotional buildup. Jake came in and took it to the next level,” said Bayliss. The Japanese phrase Hajimemashite translates roughly to “pleased to meet you.” The title was contributed by Stasik after spending time studying in Japan and early versions featured another contribution from Ryan. Brendan explained, “The original version featured Ryan on vocals. He would speak in Japanese and I would translate…that was the original verse idea that we decided to scrap.”
At the end of July ’06 Umphrey’s made their first (and to date only) trip to Japan for the Fuji Rock Festival. The crowd welcomed the sextet with open arms and in the video below you could see how into it the audience was. “It was cooler than you think it was. To be that far away from home and have that many people getting down, it was a moment that I think we’ll all cherish forever,” Bayliss commented.