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02-16-2009Info on BluesTraveler.net updates and future projects; 2008 wrap-up and North Hollywood Shootout info; 2009 plans for John and the rest of the band

Happy New Year! After a sparsely-updated 2008, we hope to bring you a much more up-to-date BluesTraveler.net starting in 2009. We have added over 200 new pieces of memorabilia to the archive, including ticket stubs, setlists, posters and backstage passes. We now are up to date with all of the memorabilia sent in over the past year, so if you have any more lying around, please scan it and send it in!

Among the projects for the upcoming year - eliminating all of the error messages (which stem from a server move last year), an update of the media archive, more explanatory text and updates for the Gigs at a Glance section, and more frequent news stories. If there are features you'd like to see added to BT.net, drop us a line or if you possess the php/mysql know-how to do so, even better! And of course we're always looking to fill in the holes in our archive.

Some of you have already spied one feature that we did recently implement - all shows currently streamable on the Live Music Archive archive.org now have the Flash player embedded in the show page here. That's over 600 live recordings, now available on the web site. Due to coding restrictions the LMA is unable to offer the full playlist along with the streaming play bar, but the buttons are available to skip backwards and forwards a track to your heart's content. Happy listening!

As for the band, the summer of 2008 saw the Live, Collective Soul and Blues Traveler bill hitting auditoriums and amphitheaters across the country. While they were often limited to hourlong sets, the band did gain exposure to the respective fan bases of their mid-90's alternative radio counterparts. Interestingly enough, the three bands had shared a bill together fourteen years earlier, at the Woodstock '94 Festival, playing on the first day. There was a good deal of interplay between the three bands; John Popper guested with Collective Soul at least three times, Live at least twice, and tour opener Hana Pestle once. Pestle repaid the favor a number of times, guesting on "Hook" and "The Joker" several times, and Collective Soul guitarist Joel Kosche got into the act at Red Rocks, sitting in with the band on "Mulling It Over".

In the fall, the band moved onto their own headlining tour, promoting their ninth original studio release, North Hollywood Shootout. The album hit stores on August 26th, but more interestingly, it landed in several different places in several different configurations. The generic store version contained ten tracks common to all releases. Fans who purchased the album (and only the entire album) through iTunes got an extra bonus track, "The Landing", inserted after "Free Willis", the album closer. And those who did their shopping at Best Buy came away with an exclusive version of the album which contained three live tracks taken from the H.O.R.D.E. Festival in 1994 and 1995. Though they aren't credited in the liner notes, kudos should go to John White for providing the 1994 masters and Mario Caprilli and Mark Domyancich for providing the 1995 clone. After the fall tour concluded, The band wrapped up 2008 with their third New Year's Eve in four years, playing a private party for the NHL at Chicago's House of Blues. They did, however, grace the public with a show at the same the night before, and another in New Orleans on New Year's Day as part of the Sugar Bowl celebration.

2009 already has a good number of dates booked, and looks to be as diverse a year as the band has done in many years. As of the writing of this news story, the band has already played their first shows of 2009, playing a pair of shows in Fort Lauderdale over Valentine's Day weekend. There are a handful of dates scheduled for late March, after which the band heads overseas for their first-ever appearances in Australia. After returning Stateside, the band will take six weeks off before hitting the road in earnest, touring from Memorial Day weekend through at least mid-June. Dates are also on the docket for mid-to-late July and into August, and you can rest assured that a return engagement to Red Rocks will be in the plans as well. And speaking of engagements, congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Tad Kinchla, who tied the knot in Austin in late January.

John has done a number of appearances - after sitting in with Dale Watson & his Lone Stars and the North Mississippi Allstars in one week in Austin, he traveled to Park City, Utah to play a show with old friend Wally Ingram as well as singer/songwriter Tom Freund and keyboardist Mighty Dave Pellicciaro. And of course, while in Park City, John took in the local flavor, jamming with local band Junior & Transportation the night before at Harry O's, then went next door to Tatou and played with a band there as well. After returning to Austin, John played with JJ Grey & Mofro on the 31st at Antone's, and sat in with Gov't Mule at Stubb's a week later. The last and most recent guest appearance actually comes from Brendan Hill, who returned to his old stomping grounds of Seattle to play with Stolen Ogre on February 7th. The event was a bittersweet one, as the band was playing in tribute to the late husband of lead singer Pam Tobiason. James "Toby" Tobiason had passed away in December after a lengthy illness.

John has also returned to blogging, making a couple of entries earlier this month at the official blog. In what he termed his "Groundhog's Day Address", John made a number of relevations. First came the news that there is a new solo album in the works with some old friends. John and his collaborators are still in the writing stages and promises that the album will be "quite songwritery". Current plans are to do the album in November - whether that's a release date or a recording date remains to be seen. Next up for John is a two-week spin through Italy with Jono Manson; John and Jono played a number of dates in Italy in 2003 with Italian blues guitarist Paolo Bonfanti but this tour will be a duo, playing eleven shows over a twelve-day period. Lastly, John mentioned the possibility of a return to the John Popper Project, or at least a week with DJ Logic.