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Jam Band Blues Traveler Jams At HOB


January 31st, 2018


Princeton, New Jersey-founded Blues Traveler played to a very enthusiastic standing-room only crowd at Cleveland's House of Blues on Tuesday night.

Chardon-born frontman John Popper, an absolute  wizard on the harmonica, donned his Hohner and took the mostly middle-aged, surprisingly-female audience on a tour of the band's thirty year career.  First gaining momentum on the local Princeton scene in the late 1980s, the band blew up with their fourth album, four, in 1994.  That album's two biggest hits, "Runaround" and "Hook," gave them instant success.  Since that time, the quartet has morphed into a jam band, gaining a following the likes of the Grateful Dead or the Dave Matthews Band.

Openers Los Colognes played a forty-five minute set of  melodic if not uninteresting Americana.  After a short reset, Popper and company took the stage.  Remaining largely intact since the band's 1987 inception (bass player Bobby Sheehan died in 1999), this group oozes both fun and confidence under the stage lights.  Popper has slimmed down since the band's '90s halcyon days, but his attitude and fervor on the mouth harp have only increased.  Guitar slinger Chan Kinchla was ever-so animated throughout the two-plus hour set; drummer Brendan Hill tore up the skins from the back of the dimly-lit stage, "new guys" Tad Kinchla on bass  and Ben Wilson on keys fit in nicely with the old timers.  Even though they've been regulars since the late 1990s.

Like any good jam band, each night's set is a surprise.  Stalwart hits like "Runaround" will make an appearance somewhere within the evening's offerings and, not surprising, showed up about halfway through the set.  A pleasant surprise was a sparkling cover of Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," with Popper replacing the fiddle parts with his harmonica.  

Review and Photos by Brian Lumley

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