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05-26-20092009 - the year to date; Blues Traveler plans for May, June, July and August, including Red Rocks; John sits in with Chris Barron; Mourning the loss of recent collaborator Jay Bennett

On this, the brink of Blues Traveler's long-ranging summer tour, we look both back and forward...

2009 has been an international affair to this point, seeing John travel to Italy in March followed by the band's first-ever trip to Australia for a handful of dates in April. By all accounts - including a detailed recounting of the trip via their blog - the trip was well-received by those in the southern hemisphere as well as the band members. And while the crew has been taking a well-deserved rest for the past six weeks (except for Gina-Z, who in her infinite kindness provided the full slate of Australia setlists to us), the tour bug is itching again.

After a trio of shows in California this coming weekend, the band will spend most of June in the eastern half of the US. The band then turns westward in late June, running up the coast and ending with their first show in British Columbia in almost seven years. And in the most recent bit of band news, Blues Traveler will be returning to Red Rocks for their 17th annual 4th of July show. Opening for the band this year with be comedian Lewis Black. The two acts first met at Bonnaroo 2006; this will be their first time sharing a public bill. After the aforementioned gig in British Columbia, the band does one more gig in Idaho before flying back to the east coast for a pocket of shows in Virginia and New England...only to then return to Idaho and wrap things up with some shows in the midwest and central US in mid to late August. The band does appear to have plans for the rest of the year - one show has officially been confirmed for October while another has been added to Pollstar with no confirmation elsewhere.

And finally, two dispatches from the department of friends of the band. On May 12th, John sat in with Chris Barron & the Time Bandits, the latest projects from the lead singer of the Spin Doctors. John was a planned guest at the show, and sat in for the entirety of the evening's events. The set, which was taped by old friend Dave Nolan also featured a three-song guest spot by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, and one tune with drummer Joe Russo, one half of the Benevento/Russo Duo and bandmate of Gordon in his GRAB side project.

The second piece of old friend news is considerably sadder; musician/producer Jay Bennett passed away in his sleep at the age of 45 on Sunday. Bennett first met up with Blues Traveler in 1995 when he was a member of Wilco and touring as part of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival. Their paths then crossed nearly ten years later, when Blues Traveler tapped Bennett to produce ¡Bastardos!. Our deepest condolences go out to the Bennett family and all of his friends, bandmates and collaborators.