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03-14-2005New BT songs debut as Ben Wilson 5 rocks Austin; John Popper Project spring tour & Xingolati cruise confirmed; Red Rocks 2005 in the pipeline

No fewer than two new Blues Traveler songs made their debut early last Monday morning at Austin's Continental Club, as the "Ben Wilson 5" took the stage around 1 in the morning and played a nearly 2-hour set to no more than a couple hundred die-hard fans. Fans reported that John Popper deferred to Ben Wilson as band leader for the night, and that the band was joined by saxophone, trumpet and trombone on at least two occasions - during a 15-minute "Mulling It Over" and again on "The Path" toward the end of the set. The horn players are better known as the "Grooveline Horns", local Austin legends known for their work with Bob Schneider in both the Ugly Americans (who toured the country with the HORDE Festival in 1994) and The Scabs. One other new song, tentatively titled "Rubberneck" was played early in the set, and two songs later, "Amber Waits" made its debut. Several tapers were in attendance thanks to a well-placed leak within the fan base, and one recording has already popped up on BitTorrent.

The two-week John Popper Project tour looks to be rounding into shape, as the home office sent out a press release over the weekend finalizing the dates, including two new shows in Nashille and Cincinnati. Just a month remains until the tour kicks off opening for Gov't Mule in North Carolina; the tour will be running through the end of April. The Project has also been booked for the three-day Xingolati Groove Cruise, to take place between October 14th and 17th aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Paradise, sailing from Long Beach, CA to Ensenada, Mexico and back. On the heels of this announcement comes the unfortunate news that the previously-mentioned "Rock the Boat Cruise" with the Codetalkers has apparently been cancelled.

Finally, in returning to purely Blues Traveler news, word on the street is that Red Rocks may be very close to being announced once again. So get ready to book your plane tickets and hotel rooms for the first week of July...