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11-27-2006The newest addition to the Traveler family arrives; Band plays two shows as a foursome as a result; Live CDs offered for sale on the recently-completed fall tour; John joins NH benefit and then tours Iraq & Qatar with Operation Season's Greetings

Congratulations are in order for Ben Wilson and his wife, who recently welcomed the newest addition to the Traveler family. En route to the band's November 18th show at Magic City Music Hall in Johnson City, NY, Ben got the call that his wife had gone into labor. He rushed home and made it time for the birth of a baby boy, Kiran North Wilson, on the 19th. This makes it two sons this year in the Traveler family - Brendan and wife Sophie had a boy, Charlie, back in September. Congratulations again to the happy families!

All of this excitement meant that the band was reduced to a foursome for the first time since 1999, prior to Ben's addition as the official fifth member. For the November 18th show in New York as well as the November 20th show in Oklahoma, the band played setlists of mostly older material - Johnson City featured only four songs recorded by the new lineup, and Shawnee's show contained a mere three post-Ben tunes. A recording of the first show for those curious to hear what the band sounds like as a foursome.

In other news, a few more fans are getting to relive the live concert experience lately, thanks to a new experiment the band was running on the fall tour. Front of house engineer Adam has been running a separate matrix (a pair of Røde NT5's, plus the regular soundboard feed) and sending it to a CD burner. Each show on the fall tour, with the exception of Mohegan Sun and one other show where union rules prevented it, was recorded to a two-CD set and sold for $15 after the show thanks to an industrial burner and some patience on the behalf of concertgoers. Provided that this fall's experiment was a success, fans may be able to sign up ahead of time at the merchandise table and pick up their discs afterward. More information will be posted on this if they decide to carry on with this practice, but it is designed as a complement to fan taping, not a replacement for it.

In between the two gigs mentioned above, John traveled up to Manchester, NH to participate in a fundraiser concert for fallen officer Michael Briggs, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year. Then a day after wrapping up the Blues Traveler tour, he hopped aboard a plane to Turkey to join the Operation Season's Greetings tour, bringing holiday cheer to US Air Force servicemen and women abroad. Last year the downrange stop was in Doha, Qatar, but one brave soul wrote to Bluestraveler.net describing a stop at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq. The tour has also passed through Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq as well as a return to Al Udeid Air Base in Doha. One or two more stops are expected on the tour before things wrap up with a November 30th visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and a December 1st concert at Ramstein Air Base, both in Germany.