Blues Traveler is a jam band formed in Princeton, New Jersey in 1987 and primarily known for its two 90s hits "Run Around" and "Hook" (both from the album Four) and for appearing on Roseanne as Dan's best friend.
Principal Members (Founding members in italic, most recent in bold):
- John Popper - lead vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar
- Chan Kinchla - electric/acoustic guitars
- Brendan Hill - drums
- Bobby Sheehan - bass (1987-1999; died of a drug overdose)
- Tad Kinchla - bass (1999-present)
- Ben Wilson - keyboards (2000-present)
- 1990 - Blues Traveler
- 1991 - Travelers and Thieves
- 1993 - Save His Soul
- 1994 - Four
- 1997 - Straight On Till Morning (final album with Bobby Sheehan)
- 2001 - Bridge (first album with Tad Kinchla and Ben Wilson)
- 2003 - Truth Be Told
- 2005 - ¡Bastardos!
- 2007 - Cover Yourself (new arrangements of previously released songs)
- 2008 - North Hollywood Shootout
- 2012 - Suzie Cracks the Whip
- 2015 - Blow Up the Moon
- 2018 - Hurry Up & Hang Around
- 1992 - On Tour Forever (EP, packaged with Travelers and Thieves)
- 1996 - Live from the Fall (double album)
- 2002 - Live: What You and I Have Been Through
- 2004 - Live on the Rocks
- 2006 - ¡Bastardos en Vivo! (EP)
This band provides examples of:
- Based on a True Story: The song "Closing Down the Park" is about the Tompkins Square Park riot of August 1988.
- The Cameo: All of the tracks of Blow Up The Moon is essentially collaborations with cameos from Hanson, Rome Ramirez, 3OH!3, JC Chasez, Jewel, and The Plain White Ts among others.
- Epic Rocking: It comes with the territory as a jam band. "Crystal Flame," "Alone," "Sweet Pain," "Mountain Cry," "Whoops," and "Make My Way."
- Grief Song: "Pretty Angry."
- Iconic Item:
- While performing onstage in his pre-weight-loss days, John Popper wore a set of custom-made belts either slung across his chest or hung around his neck. They had pockets to hold harmonicas in every possible key, so he could easily switch one for another mid-song. The belts no longer fit properly after he lost the weight, so he started carrying his harmonicas in a black attache case.
- He often wears a broad-brimmed hat whose band is made of flattened harmonica plates during shows.
- Large and in Charge: John Popper was one of the heaviest singers on the scene during his day, eventually tipping the scales at over three hundred pounds. Health issues (diabetes and a heart attack) eventually led him to have gastric bypass surgery, which allowed him to lose a great deal of weight.
- Misery Builds Character: Although "blues" was part of their name, they were always quick to point out that they'd never actually "paid their dues" the way most blues artists did back in the day.Popper: We're five white kids from the suburbs whose parents supported us while we were starting out, so let's not insult the term.
- Mixed Metaphor: The second and third verses of "Run-Around" are constant strings of these.
- Motor Mouth: The third verse of "Hook" is nearly 200 words long. It still takes less than a minute.
- Off to See the Wizard: Blues Traveler parodied this story in the video for "Runaround": The Dorothy stand-in and her buddies can't get into the club where the band is performing, and when they manage to sneak in backstage they discover that the band are in the Wizard role, performing offstage while younger, slimmer performers mime playing to their work onstage.
- Run for the Border: "Get Out of Denver" is a local variant.
- Shout-Out: The first line in "Regarding Steven" is one to "Sympathy for the Devil". Throughout the latter song, Satan says, "Hope you guess my name"; the first line in "Regarding Steven" is "Well, I guessed your name and I'm sure you know mine..."
- This Is a Song: "Hook" is entirely about itself, describing how the hook brings you back, confessing that he doesn't mean any of what he is singing, and how the lyrics affect the listener, among other things.