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Mourning for Sheehan Surfaces on Blues Traveler's Bridge
by Gary Graff
WallOfSound.com, National
May 8th, 2001

Blues Traveler guitarist Chan Kinchla says there was a time after bassist Bobby Sheehan's unexpected death in August 1999 when the group doubted it would continue. But those emotions were apparently short-lived.

"Initially, right afterwards, you're pretty confused, and there were a lot of conflicting ideas," Kinchla recalls. "By the time we got back together, you realize after the funeral and that process - something like that makes you realize how special friends like that are. It makes you appreciate what you have. It was very clear we still loved to play together and were very close, and there's a large family of people around the band. To have that fall apart, we felt, would be the last thing Bobby wanted and certainly nothing we wanted. So it was very clear to us we wanted to continue."

Bridge, Blues Traveler's first album in four years, finds Kinchla, frontman John Popper, and drummer Brendan Hill joined by Kinchla's brother Tad on bass and keyboardist Ben Wilson, which Chan Kinchla calls a nod to the late Sheehan's stated desire to bring an additional player into the fold.

"We were very clear that if we were going to do this, we wanted this to grow with the new players and not just be a re-creation of what we were in the past," the guitarist says. Not surprisingly, however, many of Bridge's songs ruminate on Sheehan's passing - most directly "Pretty Angry," which is dedicated to Sheehan's younger brother, Johnny. "Johnny's been a close friend and tight with us for years, from the beginning," Kinchla notes. "He's our surrogate younger brother. We feel a special kind of bond with him, a special kind of understanding of his grief, which is even beyond ours. John wrote ["Pretty Angry"] a couple of day's after Bob's death, when he was down in New Orleans at Bob's house, helping the family clean up. That was coming right out of he initial grief - [but] we wanted the song to not just be a self-serving kind of expression of our grief but to take it to another level, where people could just put their own situations into it and have it resonate in the same way it does to us."

Blues Traveler plans to tour in support of Bridge throughout the spring and summer, including an amphitheater tour with a number of other bands yet to be named.

Gary Graff