Blues Traveler, the first band to bring the entire audience to
its feet dancing, revives a hyperactive form of 1960's blues-rock
that doesn't have much to do with the blues. In Blues Traveler's
songs, every instrument -- drums, bass, guitar harmonica -- crams
as many notes as possible into every run.
The band doesn't mesh like the Grateful Dead, one of its models;
instrumental parts constantly stumble over one another behind
John Popper's harmonica solos, which zip up and down the scale
frantically but never arrive anywhere. Yet the band never lacks
energy, and for its fans, Blues Traveler evokes the kind of
communal enthusiasm -- translated into eager, free-form dancing
-- that goes with the mythic 1960's. "Take a little trip
with me," one lyric suggested. Blues Traveler also made the
inevitable neo-Woodstock gesture when Mr. Popper played a
solo-harmonica version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
But unlike the 1969 Jimi Hendrix guitar solo, which shrieked like
air-raid sirens and bombing victims, Mr. Popper's solo only
showed off his lung power. Hendrix's own performances are running
on videotape in the Surreal Field.