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Boulder faves Blues Traveler back with new album
by Kat Metcalfe
Campus Press, Boulder, CO
Aug 26th, 1994

Blues Traveler has survived a motorcycle injury, six months in New York and two shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre since its last album was released.

Recorded in Bearsville, the famous studio Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan recorded at, Blues Traveler's new album, four, promises to be another masterpiece.

For the first time, the band entered the studio unprepared.

"On the last two albums, we had a kind of theme or concept we had in mind before going in to record any of it," says Blues Traveler guitarist Chan Kinchla. "We thought that either consciously or sub-consciously colored the way the music came out." The band's last two albums, Save His Soul and Travelers and Thieves, featured a more somber tone than their latest. While both records focused on survival and loss, four has a more optimistic feel.

"We wanted to concentrate solely on the songs themselves, individually," Kinchla says.

The resulting record is packed with energy and a little more of the feel of Blues Traveler's live shows.

"We wanted to capture the dynamic that the four of us get while playing together," says Kinchla. "Because we've played together so long, we know what the other person is going to play intuitively, so we pretty much just react off each other without even thinking. It just happens naturally, and that dynamic is what makes our live shows so fun."

And Blues Traveler's live shows are fun. The four musicians often surprise their audience by blending one song into the next without gasping for air or sliding into a cover tune before returning to their original number.

When the band performs, it's as if the four read each other's minds. Blues Traveler is a tight-knit band, and it's been a task finding a producer who could click with the group.

Save His Soul was self-produced, but for this album the band looked to Steve Thompson and Mike Barbiero. "It's kind of tough to have someone come in from the outside and get so intimately involved in creating your music. When we've just met him a week before it always makes us uncomfortable," Kinchla says. "But with these guys, we had built a relationship. We were very comfortable with working with them."

Thompson and Barbiero had done some mixing on Save His Soul.

Recording at Bearsville was a comforting experience for Blues Traveler.

"Being in New York City would be a little distracting for us, as New York City is by nature, but being at Bearsville we could all come home, (to New York City) chill out, party with friends and blow off a little steam," Kinchla says. The band will be coming to a TV screen near you soon, with a video in the works for its second single. Even though Blues Traveler did two videos for their last album, neither received much MTV play. Blues Traveler is hoping its next effort will earn them more exposure.

"If it's done well, it's a nice way to enhance the expression of a song," says Kinchla. "But primarily we're interested in the music, so the video comes second."