Blues Traveler

Acceleration Nation Tour

Sold Out: Blues Traveler

Blackfoot Gypsies

Fri, March 8, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Hargray Capitol Theatre

Macon, GA

$33.00 - $50.00

Blues Traveler
Blues Traveler
30 years ago, the four original members of Blues Traveler, who had known each other since their early teens -- John Popper, Chandler Kinchla, the late Bobby Sheehan and Brendan Hill -- gathered in the basement of their drummer's parents' Princeton, NJ, home and the seeds were planted for a band who has released a total of 13 studio albums, four of which have gone gold, three platinum and one six-times platinum. Over the course of its illustrious career, Blues Traveler has sold more than 10 million combined units worldwide, played over 2,000 live shows in front of more than 30 million people, and, in "Run-Around," had the longest-charting radio single in Billboard history, which earned them a Grammy® for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Their movie credits include Blues Brothers 2000, Kingpin, Wildflowers and others. A television favorite, they have been featured on Saturday Night Live, Austin City Limits, VH1's Behind the Music and they hold the record for the most appearances of any artist on The Late Show with David Letterman.

"We started this whole adventure as a team," says Brendan Hill. "We've taken every step of this as a group together, from the basement to moving to New York, getting signed, hiring a manager, to achieving all our goals."

"I'm a firm believer that rock and roll keeps you young," adds co-founding member Chan Kinchla. "Because I don't feel any different than I did when we started, even though I've got a wife, two kids and all kind of life in between. We still go back to that mentality we had as kids, smoking pot and learning to jam. We had our first epiphanies about music together. This is a real family affair."

"The way the songs have held up moves me," admits legendary frontman Popper, who has gotten down to a svelte 280 from a high of 436 after a gastric bypass 10 years ago, which he admits saved his life. "We've really got nothing but love from our audience. If something has quality, it's constantly reconsidered through the ages. And that's what we're doing this for... posterity. We've never been 25 before, so having this kind of retrospective, as songwriters, it's an opportunity for long forgotten songs get their day in court."

From the suburbs of New Jersey, Blues Traveler moved to New York in the late '80s, where they became part of a jam-band scene that packed clubs like Nightingale's, McGoverns and Kenny's Castaways, where they would share the bill with Spin Doctors and Phish. Represented early on by Bill Graham and son David, Blues Traveler's live reputation led to a deal with A&M Records, for whom they released their self-titled debut, which produced songs like the hit "But Anyway," "Gina" and "100 Years," eventually going gold simultaneously with the album Four. The following year came Travelers & Thieves, also now gold, with songs like "What's For Breakfast." The subsequent gold release Save His Soul followed in 1993, with songs like "N.Y. Prophesie," whose lyrics were actually co-written by John's Hungarian father, Robert. The recording, and resulting tour, was marked by Popper having to sing from a wheelchair, the result of a motorcycle accident that almost took his life and destroyed the band, which led to a deeper investment from A&M to help support the band during a mettle-testing period in their career.

The band's Four, released in 1994, was a watershed moment for the group, eventually selling more than six million albums on the strength of the singles "Run-Around" and "Hook."

"The fact we had that success in the middle of our career, rather than early on, was beneficial because it opened doors to a whole new audience that we continue to court today," says Hill.

The band's next album, the now-platinum Straight on till Morning, released in 1997, produced the memorable "Carolina Blues," a longtime staple of Blues Traveler's live show. After that, tragedy struck when bassist Bobby Sheehan was found dead in New Orleans on August 20, 1999, at the age of 31. It was a wake-up call for Popper, who vowed to lose his extra weight after help from friends like Howard Stern and Roseanne Barr. Deciding to soldier on, the group brought in Chan's brother Tad to replace Sheehan on bass and, at the same time, enlisted keyboardist Ben Wilson.

"I kind of vicariously grew up around the band," says Tad, four years younger than his older brother. "I saw all the trials and tribulations moving forward, and then lightning striking."

"They wanted to bring in someone who could be part of the band," recalls Wilson. "They wanted keyboard to play a little bit more of a part of the sound. Apparently, Bobby had always wanted to have a keyboard player in the band. So adding me was a bit of a nod to him."

The transition took place in 2001 on the aptly named studio album Bridge, the band's last for major label group Interscope Geffen A&M, on songs like "Back in the Day" and "Girl Inside My Head."

"That was us looking back," admits Popper. "It was the end of an era. We wanted to call it 'Bridge Out of Brooklyn' as an homage to Bobby, but we decided to talk about where the bridge was going rather than where it was coming from."

Truth Be Told, recorded in Ojai and Santa Barbara, CA, followed in 2003 on the Sanctuary label and proved a fun experience for the band as they explored their more pop side on songs like Tad's "Let Her and Let Go" and "Unable to Get Free," both represented on this compilation.

Bastardos, produced by former Wilco member Jay Bennett for the Vanguard label, featured "Amber Awaits," Popper's ode to one of several New England Patriots cheerleaders with whom he fell in love while on a USO Tour of Iraq and Afghanistan. North Hollywood Shootout, recorded in 2008 and released on Verve Forecast, produces a pair of tracks for the collection, Chan Kinchla's Led Zeppelin-esque "Remember It" and Wilson's "You, Me and Everything."

Currently putting the finishing touches on their tenth studio album -- the first to feature outside songwriters in addition to the band members' contributions -- the group is taking the opportunity of their milestone to not just look behind, but ahead.

"We intend to keep going as long as they pay us," laughs Popper, resplendent in bathrobe, Simpsons pajamas and Samurai sword dangling from a belt loop. "We're going to be in everybody's face this year. I feel like I'm in my prime. I was convinced I'd be dead at 37."

"We're brothers," concludes Chan. "We're not done. We've got a few more swings left, some more damage to do. I'm sure we bug the shit out of one another at times, but it's an honor to play onstage with these guys. They are awesome musicians. You have to keep touch with that. And never forget it."

Still alive and kicking, Blues Traveler prepares for the next 25 years, with a comprehensive overview of the first, in one deluxe package.
Blackfoot Gypsies
Blackfoot Gypsies
The Blackfoot Gypsies have unleashed a set of original roadhouse rockin' tunes with To the Top, on Plowboy Records. The Nashville, Tennessee based powerhouse quartet demonstrate raucous energy and soul on this collection delivering their take on white-knuckled rock'n'roll.

Across the 15 tracks of To the Top, the Blackfoot Gypsies fuse their influences -- swamp blues cool, downhome hillbilly funk and homegrown punk panache -- into a lean, mean machine invoking such classic musical malcontents as the Rolling Stones, the Faces and Mott the Hoople, while sparking and spitting 21st-century fire. It's the type of record that could only come from a band that learned to rock the old-fashioned way -- one sweaty, full-throttle live performance at a time.

The band's brew of rock, hillbilly and blues began in 2010 when Oregon native, guitarist and singer Matthew Paige moved to Nashville and hooked up with drummer and Music City native Zach Murphy. The pair wanted to form a full band, but the urge to rock could not wait.

"We were doing just what we wanted to do," Paige says, "but making enough noise to fill out the sound was a challenge. I started playing through two amps to make the most sound."

The pair spent the next two years building a reputation through raucous live performances and two self-released EPs, Blackfoot Gypsies (2010) and Dandee Cheeseball (2011), and their first LP, On the Loose (2012). Hard touring followed the album's release as the duo bashed across the US through hard-won club dates. After three years, they were ready to expand their sound.

"There's really only so much you can do with a two-piece," Murphy says. "You have to do everything in extreme. I think we were too much for some people -- just a violent onslaught of noise."

They soon completed their expanded line-up when bass player Dylan Whitlow and harmonica master extraordinaire Ollie Dogg arrived within weeks of each other. Whitlow, a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania native and a veteran of several Nashville rock bands, had crossed paths with Paige and Murphy before, but Nashville native Ollie Dogg was new to the rock 'n' roll scene. He was a longtime veteran of Nashville's blues community and a regular at many blues jams, but joining a band full time was a new experience.

"My cousin told me about the band," Ollie Dogg says. "I met them a couple of weeks later, and played with them. They just told me to be loose. That's how I like to play, loose -- just take it and make it work. I've been playing with them ever since."

With the line-up complete, they entered the studio and laid down ten tracks of butt-shakin' country-blues rock. Released in April 2015 by Plowboy Records, Handle It delivered a mix of juke joint blues, front porch pickin' and snotty-nosed rock 'n' roll, positioning the group as inheritors of a fine pedigree, from Bo Diddley to the Black Crowes. Long nights tearing up the road followed as the band shared bills with the Alabama Shakes, Drivin' N' Cryin', the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Trampled by Turtles and many others. They toured throughout the US and wowed European audiences on their first international tour.

After sharpening their sound through hundreds of live performances, the band headed for Electric Kite Studio in Madison, Tennessee. Working with engineer Matt Stager and armed with 15 original tunes, the Blackfoot Gypsies self- produced their new album, To the Top. They also recruited some notable musical assistance from some of Nashville's finest musicians, including backup vocals from red-hot country queen Margo Price, Spencer Cullum, Jr. (Steelism) on steel guitar, Micah Hulscher on piano, Alexis Saski on background vocals, Taylor Powell and Shannon Pollard assisting on drums, and Paul Thacker, Diego Vasquez and Joe Hunter supplying horn section support. The album was mixed by Joe Funderburk at Creative Workshop.

To the Top wastes no time making it perfectly clear that the Blackfoot Gypsies are locked and loaded to rock. The album opens with a powerful statement of purpose in a trio of pedal-to-the-metal rockers. "I'm So Blue," "Everybody's Watching" and "Promise to Keep" all roar with an explosive energy worthy of the early ' 70s Rolling Stones or the Faces, while demonstrating that the Blackfoot Gypsies wear their inspirations on their sleeves without falling into the trap of pointless imitation.

The band slows things down a bit with "Potatoes and Whiskey," a rough -- cut slice of honky-tonk featuring Margo Price on backing vocals. Next they hop on a sanctified express train for the balling-the-jack anthem "I Had a Vision," followed by the Big Easy groove of "Back to New Orleans," a song perfect for second-line dancing anytime or anyplace.

Hitting their stride midway through the record, the Blackfoot Gypsies alternate rockers ("Lying Through Your Teeth," "I Wanna Be Famous," "She Was Mine" and "Warning") with songs demonstrating the band's versatility, with the hillbilly swing of "Velvet Low Down Blues," the Dylan-esque country ruckus of "Woman Woman" and the sublime juke joint jam of "I Got the Blues."

Wrapping up with the primal kick and Bo Diddley beat of "Gypsy Queen" and the lightly glam-seasoned back-to-basics haymaker "Why Should I Cry," the disc is a complex and masterful blend of rock, blues and hillbilly stomp sure to please the most discriminating palate and send the most reluctant feet to the dance floor.
Venue Information:
Hargray Capitol Theatre
382 Second Street
Macon, GA, 31201
http://www.hargraycapitoltheatre.com/