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05-11-2001Bridge releases with a bang; Summer tour plans solidifying; John Popper upcoming guest appearances

With the release of their sixth studio album, Blues Traveler took a whirlwind tour of New York City on Tuesday, playing no fewer than four venues in a 12-hour window. John Popper began the day at an uncharacteristic 7am on Howard Stern, reviving a mini-spat between him and Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes. Robinson refused to enter the studio until Popper had left, thanks to some bad blood left over from the 1995 H.O.R.D.E. tour. A stop at VH-1's studios yielded an acoustic set and interview, but no further information is available on this appearance. The evening saw John add some spice to the CBS Orchestra lineup as the band played Girl Inside My Head on the Late Show with David Letterman, and two late night sets followed, first at The Supper Club [review found here] and later at CBGB's. The latter show was webcast from the venue and part 1 is archived at at the club's web site.

The past week also saw the band officially dust off a few rarely-played tunes that they had previewed at two Tahoe gigs back in March; both Slow Change and Freedom returned from absences of over two years. Neither song had been in constant rotation since 1996. Black-cat list member Jeff Friedman was told by John that they were working on unearthing both Spinning Spiraling Machine and The Light In Her Eyes. This follows on the heels of John's comments back in April that they wouldn't mind relearning older songs, even as obscure as Some Things I Will Not Pretend. If they follow through on some of the indications made by Ben in his April interview about relearning other older material [among them I Have My Moments, Escaping and Make My Way] then fans could be in for a treat and some widely varied setlists by the time summer tour rolls around.

While no official announcements have come from the band yet, it seems that their summer tour is rapidly becoming a reality. A recent Wall Of Sound article indicates that the band is planning "an amphitheater tour with a number of other bands yet to be named" but initial indications are that the band will spend the early part of the summer on the festival circuit. Stops include Summer Celebration in Muskegon, MI; the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis; a return to Milwaukee's Summerfest; and sets at the Route 66 Music Fest in Joplin, MO and Ottawa's Bluesfest. A gig at the Pine Mountain Music Jam in Iron Mountain, MI is also rumored, while an additional August show has been confirmed at Green Bay's Oneida Casino.

Finally, John will not only be appearing on his own band's album; old friend Erik Lawrence reports that John will be joining old friend Eric Schenkman on jazzman Chico Hamilton's new CD, due out June 12th. The CD, entitled Foreststorn, will be released on the Koch Jazz label and will also feature Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. More information on Chico and the new album can be found at the Joyous Shout! web site. Also due out this summer is the new solo disc for Hootie & The Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker. The recording sessions were known to include John Popper but it is not known at this point whether any tracks featuring John will be available. The still-untitled album is slated to be released on August 28th.