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12-12-2001Winter tour coming to a close; Split Suite?; 2002 gigs announced

The Traveler ranged far and wide these past two months, starting off with a private gig in Hawaii in early November, then returning there for four warm-weather shows on four different Hawaiian islands. The band then returned to the mainland with a vengeance, blanketing the west coast with a string of shows the likes of which had not been truly done since 1995. The band revisited old haunts like San Francisco's Warfield Theater, blessed both Santa Cruz's Catalyst and Cincinnati's Bogart's with their first visits in nine years. After a couple of radio gigs to usher in December, the boys tore off a guest-drenched swing through the midwest that featured the Thundercloud Indian tribe, four separate members of opening act Spearhead, and black-cat list member Jon Gardner bringing the house down in Indianapolis with a harp duel on Mother Funker.

Among the notable tunes on this tour were a couple of new names: Low Branch, Poncho and Setting Sun are actually the names of movements of the 20-plus minute epic Traveler Suite; while Low Branch had originally been seen as a live-only segment of Alone, this was actually the first time it had been named as such. "Poncho" may be an abbreviation of "Remembering Pancho," as posted by listmember Rick Duro when Traveler Suite originally debuted. The other notable return was that of the Bob Sheehan-penned tune The Mountains Win Again. The song made its return nearly two and a half years after its last playing by the band, appropriately enough at the same venue - the Warfield Theater. The previous show, on June 28th 1999, would prove to be the late bassist's last appearance with the band before his death some two months later. The song has slowly made its way into regular rotation, although other Bob-related songs - Love of My Life, specifically - may not be right around the corner in terms of a comeback, according to fans who spoke recently to John Popper.

In the last bit of news, two Blues Traveler shows have been announced for next February at Caesar's Palace in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The band will hit the road again on February 8th and 9th, mirroring the pair of Nevada gigs performed this past March, and then reportedly hit the road to locations still undetermined. John Popper will have a bit of a head-start on his bandmates, however, as the "Benefit for Reproductive Freedom" show, cancelled due to September's terrorist attacks, has been rescheduled for January 19th. Originally to be held at Constitution Hall, the event has now been moved to Lisner Auditorium and will now only feature John Popper, not Chan Kinchla and John as previously slated. Tickets go on sale through Ticketmaster as of December 22nd, and cost $35.