Blues Traveler’s new album and tour aim to please fans

Staying powerful is a tough thing to do in the music industry. One-hit wonders come and go, and most bands with pop hits in 1994 are not still touring sold-out venues and festivals today. Blues Traveler, however, is an exception.

With eight albums on the market and a near non-stop touring effort for years, Blues Traveler’s fan base is as loyal as it is disparate.

This fall, Blues Traveler finds itself on the road again. They already played at the Austin City Limits Festival, which brought in 75,000 people. Now, they’re working their way up the East Coast, with Washington, D.C., as one of the many cities on the list of tour locations.

The fall tour is promoting the band’s most recent album, ?Bastardos! (Vanguard Records, 2005), which has an innovative flavor, proving that the band is still having fun and not afraid to try something different. While the vocals are still undeniably those of lead John Popper (as well as the harmonica playing), ?Bastardos! also brings influences from an array of other music genres.

In an interview with The Hatchet, Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla described the array of influences found in the new album. In referencing a lot of other music types, the band is “happy to try new things so that the whole album doesn’t sound like similar songs,” he said.

One of the most unique songs on the new album is “She and I,” complete with an entire section of horns and an amazing bass line. Kinhcla described the song as sounding “like an old Chicago tune. And it’s working that way and it’s kind of cool.” The new album explores facets of music Blues Traveler has never explored on a reordered album before.

If you haven’t picked up the new record and still want to see the band live, fear not. Expect a mix of new tunes as well as old favorites at the upcoming show.

“We hit every album that the band’s done . every night,” Kinchla said.

Although Blues Traveler may play “Hook” and “Run-around” perhaps more frequently than they would like, the band still keeps a good attitude about it.

“I think you have to step out of the realm of ‘we’ve played it so much’ and think more like ‘are there people who haven’t seen us that are coming to the show? Will that pull them in and allow them to enjoy the rest of the show?'” Kinchla said. Because these old tunes frequently attract audiences, the band is pleased to play them to keep the new fans happy.

The band has also been known to do famous covers, from Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” to the Charles Daniel Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” When choosing covers, Blues Traveler does not focus on particular artists. Instead, Kinchla explains that they are always aiming to “pick songs that are recognizable to others.” By playing well-known covers, the band is able to connect with audience members who may not know their entire repertoire of songs, which helps their tours be incredibly successful.

So in the next few days, take out that old copy of Four from 1994, download some new hits from ?Bastardos! from iTunes, and get ready to hear a band that has longevity, unlike most of their peers from the early ’90s. n

Blues Traveler will be playing Oct. 11 at the 9:30 Club at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $25 and are available at http://www.tickets.com or the 9:30 box office.

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