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Traveler keeps it short
by Sarah Rodman
Boston Herald, Boston, MA
May 11th, 2001



Sometimes restrictions are a good thing.

While Avalon's practice of kicking out the rock fans by 10 p.m. so they can double dip with the disco crowd is often irksome, last night's curfew kept Blues Traveler to a concise - by their standards - two-hour set.

The oft-meandering quintet, fronted by the spectacularly slimmed-down John Popper, played 18 songs in a set that veered from the impossibly tasty to the gratingly shrill.

The infusion of new blood - necessitated by the 1999 overdose death of bassist Bobby Sheehan - has refreshed Blues Traveler and the new players were responsible for some of the night's best moments, many of which came from their new album Bridge.

Keyboardist Ben Wilson livened up everything. His smoky organ swells, cascading piano arpeggios and, on "You Lost Me There," his dirty clavinet funk made for an engaging counterpart to Popper's ubiquitous harmonica soloing.

Tad Kinchla proved his entry into the band wasn't nepotism on the part of older brother Chan, BT's guitarist. The younger Kinchla's fleet bass lines, ranging from the Les Claypool slap funk of encore "Mother Funker" to the wobbly angles of "Rage," locked in with Brendan Hill's rocking and refined grooves for a bottom end that kept the crowd's bottom ends in motion.

The elder Kinchla was in typically good humor as he effortlessly fired off scorching solos and laid the surging rhythms of the roiling "All Hands."

But it was clearly Popper who is a new man. Playing his guitar behind his head, leaning down for harmonica feedback, moving with ease and singing soaring choruses on "Back in the Day" and "Run-Around" with gusto, Popper was in excellent form.