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01-26-2007Happy New Year!;Late 2006 recap - Xmas Jam & Operation Season's Greetings;Studio writing session, acoustic album & upcoming tour dates;Get your studio BT fix on compilations and downloads

Happy New Year! The band and its members have been rather quiet of late, but 2007 promises to be a busy one for all involved. Read on for the latest scoop...

First, a recap of the end of 2006. John completed yet another tour with the US Air Forces in Europe Reserve Band and the New England Patriots cheerleaders, this time taking the second slot behind country music artist Jamie O'Neal. The tour made its announced stops in Turkey and Germany, as well as unannounced stops in Iraq, Qatar and Afghanistan. Even after stepping back on American soil, John wasn't done – he stuck around with the Patriots cheerleaders for a couple more days, playing the Star-Spangled Banner before the December 3rd game against the Detroit Lions.

From there, it was back for a quick trip with the John Popper Project. The band had been invited to play at Warren Haynes' 18th annual Christmas Jam on December 16th, but as it always turns out, that wasn't all. For several years now, there has been an exclusive fundraiser the night before the Christmas Jam, dubbed the Pre-Jam, at Asheville's Orange Peel. John had guested at the 2004 version, and this year the entire Project was invited to participate. The band played a short four-song set and then returned the following night with a five-song showing, replete with guests - Col. Bruce Hampton, Branford Marsalis, and Mr. Warren Haynes himself. John later came back to jam on "Walkin' To New Orleans" with the New Orleans Social Club, also joined by Marsalis, Mickey Raphael and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.

The John Popper Project has also indicated its intention of touring again this spring, scheduling things around Blues Traveler's schedule. John, Chan, Brendan, Tad and Ben are currently holed up on a six-week writing binge at an unidentified studio, so look for tour dates to start up by mid-March at the earliest. Blues Traveler has already played three shows in 2007 - a three-show run through southern California - and has one more on the slate in February in Nevada. Things look to be warming back up for the band in April, when they have a date scheduled in Texarkana, TX. Dates have also been scheduled for June (Norfolk, VA), and July (Hot Springs, AR); the calendar should no doubt be filling in soon.

But before the dates start, the band has also revealed that it is planning on making good on its promise from nearly seven years ago. In one of the final issues of Gigs at a Glance ever sent, the band mentioned that they would be releasing a special CD containing "live acoustic songs that were accumulated on the Fall '97 tour". While the material may no longer be live, the CD itself appears to be on its way to fruition. In a note posted to bluestraveler.com, Gina-Z has asked fans to participate in the process of selecting tracks for the CD. She welcomes anyone and everyone to send in their top five picks for songs they'd like to hear the band play and release acoustic - anything original from the catalog, no holds barred. No release date has been announced as of yet, but get your picks in now!

Finally, while the band may be off the road, there are several releases coming out featuring John and the gang...

NOW: If you can't wait for the acoustic album, you can pull up the iTunes Store for two tracks of acoustic Blues Traveler goodness. The recent Bridge School Collection, Vol. 2 features acoustic takes on "Carolina Blues" and "Run-Around". Boulder's KBCO-FM released Volume 18 of its "Studio C" series last month; if you can track down a copy (it sold out within hours), you can hear an exclusive version of "Amber Awaits".

SOON: The previously-mentioned Band tribute album releases in just a few short days; you can stream the entire album at 429records.com, including Blues Traveler's rendition of "Rag Mama Rag".March 6th will see the release of Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert Vol. 2. The two-disc album culls 21 tracks from the 2000 Christmas Jam, including six tracks with John Popper, two of them playing "The Mountains Win Again" and "Alone".

EVENTUALLY: John will also be appearing on a Sesame Street DVD featuring a series of country songs reworked for children's entertainment. John played a duet with 13-year-old prodigy LD Miller, who played with the band last October at a gig at Richmond, IN's Earlham College; they first met when Miller was featured on the reality show "America's Got Talent". The two performed "Home On The Range" for the untitled DVD. John and Tad also recorded the video for "Lapdance" at New York's HeadQuarters club; the band's official site says it will be available online shortly (link added 1/28).