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Blues Traveler performs live at the Riviera
by Prema Chandrathil
Columbia Chronicle, Chicago, IL
May 15th, 2001



Back after a 10-month hiatus from the Chicago venues, Blues Traveler is back on spring tour. They came to Chicago and played at the Riviera Theatre on May 15. Opening act for the group was Pete Yorn, a folk rocker from New Jersey.
Blues Traveler's set featured a change from their past concerts. They moved away from their jam-band routine and played a shorter, less improvised show, pulling back from solos. The group still played their blues-based blend of tight arrangements, but was loose enough to allow a few solos primarily by John Popper and Chan Kinchla.
Not surprisingly the group opened with the sentimental "Back in the Day", which touched on Bobby Sheehan's death. They then followed with "Believe Me".
Blues Traveler featured songs from their past albums, Straight on Till Morning, Live from the Fall, four and their new album Bridge, which is available for purchase now.
This new album showcases newcomer bassist Tad Kinchla, the younger brother of guitarist Chan Kinchla. After Sheehan died from a drug overdose in 1999, the remaining members took time deciding who would replace him. The decision to bring in Tad was made by Popper and Chan Kinchla. Another new addition to the band was keyboardist Ben Wilson.
The addition of Kinchla and Wilson changed the band's appearance and overall outlook. Yet one of the biggest changes was made by Popper. About two years ago, Popper followed in Carnie Wilson's footsteps and got his stomach stapled. On stage, the trimmed-down Popper looked as if he lost about 100 pounds.
The concert sounded tight as the band stuck to their studio sound, keeping their songs short. Popper's harmonica playing and guitarist Kinchla were the driving forces behind the band, giving the audience something to groove to.
Though the show was not sold out, those who came were treated to two and a half hours of groove-infused rock, plus an entertaining solo from Popper who played guitar behind his back and with his teeth.
Like Blues Traveler, they are still better musicians than writers. The band will appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on June 5th.