A woman before the show asked me if I have ever seen Blues Traveler perform. I answered that I have been following the band since the 90’s (read about the last time I saw them at Red RocksAmphitheatre by clicking here.) She laughed and told me, “You know what that means? … Your old.” But I wasn’t the only old guy at the show in the crowd. Blues Traveler performed outside a hotel in downtown Baltimore for the Natural Product Expo East that is one of the biggest natural products tradeshows of the country. The community benefit concert packed 500 backpacks filled with natural and organic snacks for local kids in need. For more information about the expo, click here.
The audience was overjoyed to see a band that has been performing for over thirty years. The band’s front man John Popper is notably one of the best harmonica players in the world. Popper, dressed an oversized shirt and his famous black fedora, repeatedly told the crowd they were “frigging awesome.” Guitar player Chan Kinchla got the crowd to cheer and wave their arms along to the music. Much to Popper’s delight, the audience displayed jazz hands at his repeated requests.
The first song I recognized was Save His Soul from their third album. Although they played mostly material from their latest album Hurry Up & Hang Around, a few covers and hits were sprinkled into the setlist. The band did an amazing version of Charlie Daniel’s The Devil Went Down to Georgia with Kinchla playing his guitar in place of the infamous fiddle solo. It put a smile on everyone’s face when John Popper sang, “Well, my name’s Johnny/And it might be a sin. But I’ll take your bet/And you’re gonna regret/’Cause I’m the best there’s ever been.”
During the long jam in the middle of the song Dropping Some NYC from their first album, Popper took a smoke break behind the stage (you know the band is doing a long extended jam when the lead singer can take a smoke break and the guitar player can join him). After a few more tunes from their new album, their biggest hit Run Around was played. When Popper belted out, “But I know whatever the waitress brings/ I shall drink it and always be full.” The audience repeated, “Yeah drink it and always be full.”
Popper dedicated Ode from the Aspect from the new album to the fans. He said it was about time I thank you for what all you have done for us. It always amazes me how Popper’s voice gets overshadowed by his harmonica playing (he held one note during the song for almost as long as his smoke break).
When the band was introduced, keyboardist Ben Wilson played the theme song to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Guitarist Kinchla took over vocals on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Last Dance with Mary Jane with an amazing harmonica solo by Popper. They played Hook, another one of their biggest hits, to the audiences delight. The band closed with John Lennon’s Imagine as Popper threw harmonicas to the women in front of the stage.
See you at the next show. I’ll be behind the stage taking a break during the extended jam.