The soulful, fun, and seemingly effortless performance by The Understorey’s Jess McCumons will always pull you in for more.
Having a desire to create a musical tapestry and landscape, Matt and Jess McCumons started as a duo and then joined with dedicated and talented Michigan musicians Dave Wak (Drums), Billy King (Electric Guitar), Josef Deas (Keys, Bass), and Jenny Jones (BGVs). Since the band released its debut album, ‘Tending Embers’ in June 2013, they have performed at The Ark, Otus Supply, Arts Beats & Eats, The Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF), the Ann Arbor Art Fair, Hollerfest, Water Hill Music Festival, Tip of the Mitt Paddlefest, the St. Joseph Art and Wine Festival, Black Crystal Café, Johnny’s Speakeasy, Wolverine State Brewing, Chelsea Alehouse, and Woodruffs (now defunct).
MATT & JESS MCCUMONS
Taking hints, inspiration, and style from Aretha Franklin, Alison Krauss, Brandi Carlile, and Janis Joplin (just to name a few); Jess McCumons has impressed all those who listen. Leaning on well-rounded and talented husband, Matt McCumons, the duo continues to push out of musical categories and boundaries by incorporating folk, rock, gospel, blues, and jazz into their original tracks. Making waves in their home state of Michigan, Matt and Jess started out singing together on their wedding day.
Award-winning singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, MI who picked up his first guitar at age 10, recorded his first album of elvis songs with his brother at age 11, and started writing his own songs at 12. Billy's style can be described as catchy folk/rock, searing blues, direct and thoughtful lyrics, and his songwriting is easygoing and pleasant, with pretty, slow melodies and comfortable structure.
Josef is an incredibly talented string bass and keyboards player. You can find Josef either helping to record amazing sounds at Big Sky Recording, or performing with a never ending list of world renowned and Detroit-based musicians including but not limited to Shigeto, Thornetta Davis, Marcus Elliot, Elzhi, Heather Schwartz, Chuck Newsome, Sarah Price, Jesse Kramer, Kasan Belgrave, Ben Rolston, Ingrid Racine, Michael Malis, Ian Finkelstein, Charles Trees, and Kris Kurzawa to name a few.
Ann Arbor, Michigan native and singer/songwriter Jennifer Jones holds down the background vocal symmetry for Jess. She also works with a number of southeastern Michigan artists including but not limited to The Ragbirds, Al Bettis, and Sarah Price providing band management services such as publicity, booking, social media, and marketing.
Holding down the percussion section and all around mood for the crew is seasoned drummer, David Wak. Dave has actually performed in quite a few bands over the years, but found his home with The Understorey. Aside from Matt & Jess, Dave is the longest standing member of the crew.
"There’s the obvious care and attention the band puts into its music, an engaging blend of folk, rock, and soul..."
- Bob Needham, Pulp - Arts Around Ann Arbor
"The band is at its best a precise tight R&B unit that allows Jess and Jenny to shine.....but it's a well oiled machine that drives the vocals to the forefront - with special force in the band's powerful encore performance of its song 'Fat Birdie.'"
- Chris Berggren, Ann Arbor Observer, February 2014
"Folk-country duo The Understorey comprises husband and wife Matt and Jess McCumons. With Jess on vocals and Matt on guitar, the Michiganders craft a mainstream-style lo-fi sound in the vein of Amos Lee or Brandi Carlile. Jess, a classically trained vocalist, contributes a surprisingly powerful soulful voice, while Matt provides sparse, simple and propulsive accompaniment. Among their influences, the two list as many folk rockers (Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty) as R&B belters (Aretha Franklin, Etta James). Although The Understorey has not yet released any recordings, several tracks are available for download via the group's website, and the two have toured throughout Michigan."
- The Onion, September 15, 2011