the four members were high school
classmates in Princeton, New Jersey, Blues Traveler came of age
after graduating and jointly moving to New York City. Everyone but
Kinchla attended the New School for Social Research's jazz studies
program, but their real education came in the city's clubs, as they
climbed their way up from playing open-mic nights to become one of the
Big Apple's biggest attractions.
John Popper had his epiphany: Why shouldn't all
these improv-based bands get together for a formal tour? "I just
figured that by joining together we would all be able to get out of
the clubs and theaters and play some big places," Popper says
today. And so was born the H.O.R.D.E. tour, beginning humbly in 1992,
with eight East Coast dates each averaging 7,500 fans. Five years
later, it is a certified smash, having featured the
Brothers, The Black Crowes,
along with the original crop of bands, most of whom have gone on to
huge, popular success.
On July 1, 1997, A&M Records released the sixth
record from Blues Traveler titled "Straight
On Till Morning." Unlike prior recording efforts, the band was able to
spend a considerable amount of time preparing for this record. There
was a month of writing and rehearsing in Seattle, there were five more
weeks of collaboration in upstate New York, and then there was a month
of pre-production. From the swamp boogie howl of the lead single,
"Carolina Blues," to the hauntingly hooky "Canadian
Rose", the depth of writing and solid performances ooze from
every note on "Straight
On Till Morning."
"We've always been conscious that the live
vehicle is a totally different mode of expression from capturing a
performance in the studio," says guitarist Chan Kinchla.
"We've always loved doing both. But the ability to really make
things work in a vacuum, like you have to do when recording, is
something we worked very hard at."
Since signing to A&M in 1989, the band has
toured tirelessly and built a solid following on the road. Without
much support from the radio community or the other normally
conventional record selling vehicles, Blues Traveler emerged as
a word of mouth phenomenon due to the simple fact that fans connected
to the band's mood and music. Averaging more than 250 shows a year,
the quartet would play clubs, street fairs, the upper roadway on the
Brooklyn Bridge, benefits, nitrous parties, and basically anywhere
there was a working electrical outlet.
Often playing for ten people, the band would return
to a town and find that the audience had grown exponentially to a
hundred or even a thousand. In their travels across the United States,
the band are one of the few touring artists who have brought music to
each and every state. In 1992, after all of the big summer touring
headliners had passed on Blues Traveler as a support act, lead
singer John Popper started the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, which grew into
the #4 grossing US tour of the 1996 summer.
On their fourth studio record, the band was finally
commercially acknowledged as A&M broke two Top 10 singles,
"Run-around" and "Hook," and sold more than six
million copies of the 1994 release "Four." Never a
"critics darling," Blues Traveler were finally added
to the playlists of KROQ and MTV because they became too popular to
If one were to try and describe the band in one
word, it would be "honest." Often, they're too honest,
revealing secrets which sometimes shock those who are entertained with
these revelations. John Popper has often told interviewers that,
"The reason the band hasn't been featured more prominently in our
recent videos is because of the circumference of my ass."
The bottom line is that on the road and in the
studio, Blues Traveler have honestly loved playing together
since they all attended high school together in Princeton, NJ. Leaving
themselves no choice, the band literally got into the van and went on
the road after graduation.
Hits include: "Run-Around",
"Carolina Blues", "Hook", "But Anyway",
"Most Precarious", "Conquer Me".