MANCHESTER, NH – Much has changed about Blues Traveler since those formative days as a high school garage band back in Princeton, NJ, – most evident when you hear “Blow Up the Moon,” for the first time, the band’s 12th studio album, released in 2015.
For this album, John Popper and his merry jam band have collaborated with a number of artists for an unexpected mix of genres and sounds. But it’s what hasn’t changed that makes this release so notable – Popper’s soaring vocals, Blues Travelers’ brand of musicianship – and that harmonica – a free musical spirit that runs through each and every track.
Bassist Tad Kinchla says the making of “Blow Up the Moon” was an exercise that stretched the boundaries of the Blues Travelers rock solid catalog, and is the vehicle that will continue to propel them into wherever the future goes, musically speaking.
They are in it for the long haul, which means they’ve hit the road once again for several months this summer, including a one-night stop at the Palace Theatre on July 15.
“It wasn’t like we had these bands or styles set from the get go,” says Kinchla in a recent phone interview. “It came about organically, really as a timing thing. We were going to go in and do an album with some songs we had, and then we thought why not do some collaborations. So we set out to see how many other people we can do this with. It was really a matter of coordinating schedules, more than anything.”
And the list of collaborators is impressive – former N’Sync member JC Chasez and 3Oh!3 (pronounced three-oh-three), Plain White T’s, Hanson, Rome Ramirez & Dirty Heads, Jewel, Thompson Square, Bowling for Soup, New Hollow, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Secondhand Serenade.
“It’s a very eclectic group of people, and schedule wise it worked out, I do think that songwriting process was cool for us and the other bands – it was an open-minded experiment, and it allowed us to appreciate the different types of music out there – not necessarily music in our wheelhouse, but I think we bring something to it, style-wise, and it works,” Kinchla says.
The band is looking forward to playing the Palace, which will be a night of nostalgia with a twist for longtime fans.
“That’s the mantra, to incorporate a little off every album. We’ll try to push the new songs out, to see how they fly, but there are some that are always a ‘must-play’ like ‘Run-Around,’ ‘Hook,’ ‘But Anyway,’ and other songs that at various points were fan favorites,” Kinchla says. “We’d probably be booed at the encore if we didn’t play ‘Run-Around’ or ‘Hook,’ but the bulk of what’s cool is that we have this rotation, going on 16 years now, where each band member is doing the set in a different rotation, so every night is a different set. It keeps us motivated and on our toes.”
That they are still together, and still touring, is a testament to the bond the band mates have, says Kinchla. Coming out of the 1990s music scene, Blues Traveler really solidified its reputation as a top jam band back when live shows were everything, he says.
“With the record industry totally changing, it’s nice to have a band that’s sort of grandfathered into a culture of people who go to concerts. We get more joy out of playing than anything at this point. We’re not so focused on having radio songs,” says Kinchla. “We sit in a very happy spot. We like playing and we’re able to get out and play and people still come.”
Now that all the Blues Travelers are also dads, work ethic and a good night’s sleep are also part of the mix, says Kinchla, a father of twin toddlers.
“Yes,we have all reproduced, John most recently – he has an 8-month old, baby girl. Parenthood changes your perspective, and it’s not just a big party any more. I’m on a schedule where I get up at 6 a.m., so it gets hard when we tour. We’ll do a weekend of gigs playing at 10-11 p.m., and the next day we fly, and then play at 10-11 again, and we’ll get pretty tired by the end of a day,” Kinchla says. “My body rhythm doesn’t let me do what we used to do.”
As for the future, Blues Traveler will keep on doing what it’s been doing, Kinchla says.
“We don’t really have a far out game plan. We’re just here, and we are still playing all these years later. I think we’re very happy and comfortable touring and playing. There’s a great amount of joy in it,” Kinchla says. “We know we’re lucky to be in this position to play, and it’s full steam ahead for now.”
VIP tickets with meet and greet for the July 15 Blues Traveler show are $107.50. Reserved seating is available for $70.50, $50.50, $40.50. Click here.