No other summer tour has such wide parameters. "We're the
least exclusionary tour out there," says Chan Kinchla of the
band Blues Traveler, the host and headliner of the H.O.R.D.E.
Festival, which brings its traveling circus to Great Woods
"A lot of festivals lean to an alternative-rock edge or a
skate-punk edge or a women's edge," adds Kinchla. "But
we're all over the map."
The H.O.R.D.E., which stands for Horizons of Rock Developing
Everywhere, has lived up to its name. Tomorrow's show includes
main stage acts Blues Traveler, Barenaked Ladies, Paula Cole, Ben
Harper, and Alana Davis; second-stage acts Government Mule, Marcy
Playground, Catatonia, the Jim Kelly Band, and Jiggle the Handle;
and even a third stage, manned by New York's Mosaic and Chris
Barron of the Spin Doctors. All 19,900 tickets have been sold.
The H.O.R.D.E. started out as a neo-hippie festival eight years
ago (Blues Traveler was joined by Phish, Widespread Panic, the
Spin Doctors, and the Aquarium Rescue Unit), but has expanded
ever since. Neil Young, Beck, and Primus played it last summer
(the only year that Blues Traveler was absent), and this season
even featured the Smashing Pumpkins on four Midwest dates.
"The Pumpkins were looking to do something different. Their
manager didn't want to do it, but the band did," says
Kinchla. "We had first met them at the Bridge School benefit
that Neil Young does every year in California."
This year, the H.O.R.D.E. also lucked out by booking Barenaked
Ladies, who are red-hot at the moment. "We've been lucky
that way," says Kinchla. "In the past, we've also had
the Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, and 311 just as they were
What also distinguishes the H.O.R.D.E. is the amount of
inter-band jamming that takes place during the day. The main
stage is referred to as "the Blues Traveler workshop
stage," where Traveler has jammed with everyone from Warren
Haynes of Government Mule to the Klezmer All-Stars from New
Orleans. "We called it Klezmania," says Kinchla.
"Things couldn't be better," he adds. "We didn't
know some of the bands coming in - like, Barenaked Ladies we'd
only heard about. But all the bands are getting along really
well. The Barenaked Ladies even did an impromptu rap session at
the third stage, which is in the concourse. And one day, Chris
Stills and Warren Haynes did `Ohio' together. A lot of cool
things have been happening there," he says. "I've been
up to play there and so has John Popper," Traveler's singer
and harmonica/guitar force.
"Last year we went to Europe and did our own thing, playing
at some festivals over there," Kinchla says. "But we're
glad we're back. We've been having fun this summer."
Blues Traveler is doing a bunch of new material from an album to
be released next year. Some of it lacks the harmonica focus of
the past, which has made some fans wonder what's going on.
"Harmonica, being a diatonic instrument, points the music in
a certain direction. We're still finding places where the harp
will work, but we don't want to be obligated to using it,"
Finally, what about the talk that some H.O.R.D.E. dates haven't
been as strong as others at the box office? "Well, one of
them has been in Dallas and a lot of people don't want to go out
in heat. I can't blame them," Kinchla says. "But,
overall, our ticket sales are pretty much where they've always
been. We're making plenty of money and everybody's having a good