With harmonica in hand, Blues Traveler traces three decades of jams

Blues Traveler Photos by Andy Argyrakis

Believe it or not, Blues Traveler’s been in business for thirty years, and even if the group’s commercial apex came pretty early on, that hasn’t stopped John Popper and company from attracting a dedicated, multi-generational audience on the road. With or without the anniversary aspect of its current tour, the band that blends blues, southern rock, psychedelic sounds and jams would’ve probably sold out the House Of Blues anyway, and while they’ll always have tourists popping up to hear the hits, there were many more lifers ready to revisit several key places along the journey.

The “Hook” hit makers kept it grooving late into the night to visit at least a slice of all the main albums, yet made the wise decision to position their interpretations in the present and keep Blues Traveler on the path towards additional longevity.

The lengthy look back may have kicked off closer to the H.O.R.D.E. Festival founders’ New Jersey origins (“Dropping Some NYC”), but lit up the Chicago crowd from the very first breath into the leader’s signature harmonica. Along with Popper, the longstanding line-up consisted of guitarist Chan Kinchla, drummer Brendan Hill, bassist Tad Kinchla and keyboard player Ben Wilson, though late bassist Bobby Sheehan was also represented on stage in a framed photograph and he was surely smiling down, no matter if it was the newer “Things Are Looking Up” or the prime timer “Stand.”

Blues TravelerIn keeping with that throwback to Blues Traveler’s more than six-times platinum breakthrough album “Four,” “Run-Around” appeared quite early in the set giving everyone a common entry point to sing-a-long. Though the guys have probably played the certified smash more than any other track, they poured just as much heart into it as say the recently unveiled “All Fall Down” or the older “Defense & Desire,” which were just a few of the several surrounded by flavorful instrumental extensions.

Dusting off The Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” gave the guys another chance to let loose, as did their own “But Anyway,” which also climbed pretty far up the charts, but was expanded well beyond its three or four-minute core. In fact, the “Hook” hit makers kept it grooving late into the night to visit at least a slice of all the main albums, yet made the wise decision to position their interpretations in the present and keep Blues Traveler on the path towards additional longevity.


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For additional information on Blues Traveler, visit BluesTraveler.com.

For a list of upcoming shows at House Of Blues, visit HouseOfBlues.com/Chicago.