Hoopla

Blues Traveler still traveling: Performing Friday at Meskwaki Casino

BLUES TRAVELER

Blues Traveler will return to Eastern Iowa on Friday night (7/13) to jam out in the Meskwaki Casino event center in Tama.
BLUES TRAVELER Blues Traveler will return to Eastern Iowa on Friday night (7/13) to jam out in the Meskwaki Casino event center in Tama.

It would be easy for Blues Traveler to rest on its laurels and just perform select songs from its 12-album canon. “Hook” and “Run-Around” are some of the jam band’s hits.

“We could just play the familiar material but that’s not Blues Traveler,” bassist Tad Kinchla said by phone from Toledo, Ohio. “We’re not one of those nostalgia bands. We love making new material and the cool thing with our base is that our die-hard fans really want to hear what we come up with today — so we’re giving them what they want.

The band’s forthcoming album, “Hurry Up & Hang Around,” is slated for an October release. Expect Blues Traveler to preview some of the new songs when it performs Friday (7/13) at the Meskwaki Veterans Convention Center in the Tama casino complex.

“We like to play the new material,” Kinchla said. “But we like to balance it out. It’s fun going with the fresh stuff, and then there (are) songs our fans know well. We’re in a good place right now. We’re still going strong. A lot of bands that we started out with aren’t and then there are the bands from back in the day, who are still doing it like we are.”

Blues Traveler formed in Princeton, N.J., in 1987. Chris Barron of the late Spin Doctors and Trey Anastasio of Phish were part of the Princeton music scene a generation ago.

“We’re all good friends,” Kinchla said. “All three bands had some really nice success. The cool thing for us is that there is no end in sight. I think part of the reason we’re rolling on is because we’re so connected. We’re all friends. We all see Chris (Barron) quite a bit.”

Blues Traveler has lost just one member, when bassist Bobby Sheehan suffered a fatal overdose in 1999. The surviving members of the band — vocalist and multi-instrumentalist John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla and drummer Brendan Hill — knew Sheehan would like his pals to continue as a unit.

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They held an audition, but it was evident that Chan Kinchla’s brother was the perfect fit to replace Sheehan.

“We’re all so close,” Tad Kinchla said. “I love playing with my brother, and Brendan and John are the greatest.”

Quite a few of the band’s fans go back to the group’s early days.

“We have people come up to us all the time after shows and tell us stories about what it was like to catch Blues Traveler back in the day,” Kinchla said. “We’re reminded that we did things differently and the fans appreciated it because this band has always been so fan-friendly.”

Just before Blues Traveler’s breakthrough release “Four” hit the charts 24 years ago, band members hung out with fans before and after shows and allowed followers to tape each event, which they continued after they experienced success.

“It was like something out of the Grateful Dead world,” Kinchla said. “The philosophy has always been, ‘Why not let the fans have fun?’ Going to a show should be a fun experience. ...”

“I get so excited before every show. It really is awesome that we can do this for a living,” he said. “I’ve seen the world because of Blues Traveler and I get to go back to certain places again and again like Iowa, where we have an amazing base of loyal fans,” Kinchla said.

Get OUt!

WHAT: Blues Traveler

WHERE: Meskwaki Veterans Convention Center, Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, 1504 305th St., Tama

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (7/13)

TICKETS: $37 to $42, Meskwaki.com/live-entertainment/buy-tickets/

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BAND’S WEBSITE: Bluestraveler.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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