The Blues Traveler Band
Blues Traveler is an American blues rock band formed in the late ‘80’s but peaked at the height of their musical career in the ‘90’s. They started out as a high school garage band from Princeton, New Jersey in 1987 and they have stuck together ever since (1). The band is made up of harmonocist and vocalist John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla, drummer Brendan Hill, bassist Tad Kinchla, and keyboardist Ben Wilson.
Early Band Years
After graduating high school, the tight knit group moved to the big city of New York and enrolled in the music program at The New School while Kinchla attended New York University. As their musical talents began to take shape and they continued to advance their skill in music, a strong passion ignited in them and soon they were driven to do more. After much encouragement and convincing from close friend David Gonzalez, Blues Traveler decided to start playing small local gigs along the New York club circuit.
Soon the gigs began to pick up and they were playing for local clubs and bars night after night. As they gained traction in their early music career, they began to play for larger, more popular clubs such as The Wetlands and The Nightingale, which ended up being a regular gig spot for the group. In fact, one of their popular songs “Defense and Desire” was set in the bands favorite Nightingale bar.
The group lived in an apartment together in New York with their good friend from high school, Chris Barron. John Popper and Brendan Hill founded another band with Barron called the Trucking Company. Later this band became known as The Spin Doctors with Barron as their lead (2). The two groups would often share the stage, playing non-stop concerts of multiple sets, enjoying every moment of their musical careers together as friends.
During this time, Blues Traveler in particular picked up a devoted follower, and their biggest fan, Gina-Z. Gina began to tour with them and was soon nicknamed the “band mom” as she began to work hard alongside the band to push them where they needed to go. Soon enough, she became the Blues Traveler band manager and the subject of the bands popular song, “Gina”.
The band’s fourth album title four was released in 1994 and produced by Michael Barbiero and Steve Thompson (3). This albums was the bands breakthrough album as it included some of their most well-known songs “Run-Around” and “Hook”. In fact, “Run-Around” broke the record for the most consistent weeks on charts and even was awarded a Grammy.
Soon they were the opening band for The Rolling Stones, and even appeared at Woodstock in 1994. The band was quickly popping up all over the place and even made appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Late Show with David Letterman, multiple times.
Showcasing even more of Poppers strong harmonica skills was album Blues Traveler, their first album that was released in 1990. In this early recording of the Blues Traveler music, we can see where the band got their start. The album is still available for purchase, and there is no way to experience it quite like vinyl.
This album includes 11 of their songs, including some of their most popular work with songs like “But Anyway” and “Alone”. These songs still remain some of their most popular recordings among fans and music enthusiasts today.
After years of touring and producing music, the band eventually had to take a long pause from Blues Traveler to recover from severe health issues. They still receive much recognition and praise in today’s music world, and will always go down as a revolutionary ‘90’s band.
John Popper’s Harmonica
Since the start, John Popper has been exclusively playing the Hohner Special 20 blues harp. This harmonica is a extremely popular favorite among professional artists and musicians. With it’s professional quality, moisture resistant materials, and affordable price, it doesn’t get much better than the Hohner Special 20 harmonicas.
While this harmonica will always be a fan favorite, Blues Traveler, John Popper switched to another brand of harmonicas in 2015. Since then, he has been playing his own signature harmonica produced by Fender.
The Fender John Popper Harmonica is a minimal, but timeless design. It’s matte black stainless steel cover plates with the simple ‘Fender’ logo etched in the side gives it an antique yet simple finish. The reeds are slightly crimped for enhanced projection and tone quality, and are made of stainless steel. It’s durable, moisture damage resistant, and the only harmonica John Popper will play today.