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On the Road: John Popper is recuperating before rocking again
by Chris Jordan
Home News Tribune, Brunswick, NJ
Jul 23rd, 1999

The heart of Blues Traveler and the jam band movement is still beating.

John Popper, lead singer and ace harmonica player of Blues Traveler, is recuperating after after undergoing treatment in a Los Angeles hospital for a blocked artery earlier this month.

Reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

"It sucks when people hear rumors that you're dead," said Popper from his Quakertown, Pa., home. "I basically spent the whole time in the hospital on the phone with friends trying to convince them that I haven't died yet."

Popper had complained of chest pains for three months prior to the operation. He's resting now. In the fall, he plans to tour in support of his first solo album, Zygote, which is due Sept. 7.

"I'm feeling a lot better - a little weak," said Popper. "I had the angioplasty and since then my stamina's been crappy. But the important thing is that there's no damage done to my heart - it's all reversible now."

"I had a 95 percent blockage, so needless to say I'm on a diet and I've quit smoking," the beefy Popper said.

Popper will head into the studio in late December or early January to record a new Blues Traveler album. A tour with the band is scheduled for next summer.

There will not be a H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons Of Rock Developing Everywhere) tour any time in the near future, Popper said.

"I don't see it coming back anytime soon," Popper said. "I think I'm a much better songwriter than I am promoter, and who would want the job of promoter - it's a miserable business."

Popper and David Frey, Blues Traveler's manager, founded the H.O.R.D.E. tour in 1992. The festival spearheaded the jam-band movement, which includes groups such as Phish and the Dave Matthews Band.

The 1998 version of the festival was met with lean crowds in some cities, and the opening date in Minnesota was cancelled because of poor ticket sales.

"H.O.R.D.E. tour was definitely on the wane, anyway," Popper said. "I think all festival tours are being replaced by radio station-sponsored festivals because they can buy the acts off with free air time. That's really what everybody wants."

Popper would rather spend his extra time on his solo project.

"(The solo project) was a trade off for H.O.R.D.E.," Popper said. "I basically have enough time and patience in my life to do Blues Traveler and one other thing. Until now, it had been H.O.R.D.E."

The solo album features Dave Matthews Band drummer Carter Beauford and Princeton-native and long-time Popper friend Crugie Riccio.