The Grateful Dead proved groups didn't need endless hits to sustain a lengthy career. Like the Dead, Blues Traveler cultivated an audience playing a timeless brand of Rock that featured extended jams. They were a throwback to an earlier, less slick, mode of operation. While churning out chart toppers wasn't a major priority, no one complained when "Run-Around," from their fourth album became a mega-hit. That happened in '95.
Blues Traveler formed in New York seven years earlier with John Popper (vocals/harmonica), Chan Kinchla (guitar), Bobby Sheehan (bass) and Brendan Hill (drums).
Signed by A&M in '90, Blues Traveler released their self-titled debut. Their sophomore album "Travelers and Thieves" appeared a year later.
The group's momentum was slowed when Popper was involved in a serious car wreck that laid him up for several months. He was still in a wheelchair when he resumed performing.
"Save His Soul" got the group a small measure of recognition but it was the fourth album, the aptly titled "Four," with "Run-Around" that did the trick. They even got a guest spot on "Roseanne" as the bar band.
Since jamming was an integral part of the band's appeal it made sense to record a live album. "Live From The Fall" amply demonstrated Blues Travelers' musical chops.
"Straight On Til Morning" was released in '97. Two years later Popper recorded a solo album, "Zygote." That same year he suffered severe chest pains and had to undergo angioplasty. He was lucky. Later in '99,
Sheehan was found dead in his home from what was ruled as an accidental drug overdose.
A seventh album, "Bridge," arrived in '01, with guitarist Kinchla's brother, Tad, taking over on bass. Ben Wilson was also added on keyboards.
1990 Blues Traveler
1991 Travelers And Thieves
1993 Save His Soul
1997 Straight On Till Morning
2003 Truth Be Told
2007 Cover Yourself
2008 North Hollywood Shootout
2012 Suzie Cracks The Whip
2015 Blow Up The Moon
Though "Four" contains Blues Travelers' biggest hit, "Run-Around," it isn't their best album. That honor goes to "Live From The Fall" which dislays the group's Grateful Dead tendencies to good advantage. Spirited jams and energetic performances highlight the CD. The group's debut album stands as their most accomplished studio effort. Their acid Blues and loose grooves are appealing while the group's attack sounds fresh and enthused.