On November 18, Blues Traveler released a live video for “Ball and Chain,” the single (featuring Christone “Kingfish” Ingram) from their recently released album Traveler’s Blues, a collection of re-imagined and re-charged classics from the American Blues Songbook that was recently re-mastered in Dolby Atmos. The video was shot at Hobart Art Theater in Hobart, Indiana while the band was on tour this year.
“I was terrified of this one, as it’s so closely associated with Janis Joplin and stands out as a pillar of the “blues” genre. Not quite “Sweet Home Chicago,” but close!! We were wondering “What the hell are we going to do with this to make it cool??!!!” Answer was to go back to a couple of OGs—Big Mama Thornton and Etta James. Etta did her version minor, but the feel was killer. Big Mama had more major feel and felt straight Chicago. If it wasn’t pianist Otis Spann on the version we listened to, I need to know who it was!! Stronger Than Dirt!” – Ben Wilson, keys
Traveler’s Blues was released on July 30th in conjunction with the band’s first U.S. tour since the pandemic and debuted at #1 on the Blues Album chart. Blues Traveler began their tour on July 4th at Red Rocks in Colorado with parts of show airing live on CNN. They were also guests on the Today Show in August and performed “Crazy.”
Traveler’s Blues is the band’s fourteenth full-length album. This time around, the quintet—John Popper (vocals, harmonica), Chan Kinchla (guitar), Tad Kinchla (bass), Ben Wilson (keyboards) and Brendan Hill (drums), along with a few guests have made the record they were always meant to make, an eleven song album… something old, something new, something borrowed and something blues.
Blues Traveler burst onto the scene in 1987 and hit the ground running with a trio of gold-selling albums—Blues Traveler (1990), Travelers and Thieves (1991) and Save His Soul (1993). Their next album Four (1994) went six-times platinum and spawned the definitive “Run-Around,” which garnered a GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group.” The band logged another platinum album with Straight On Till Morning in 1998 and spent the next twenty years selling out shows on multiple continents before releasing Hurry Up & Hang Around in 2018.
“Back in the day, we were all into blues,” says Chan. “We even started as a high school blues band. That’s why our name is Blues Traveler! So, it was fun to come full circle and really get back to blues more than we’d ever planned. It took a lifetime for us to play this style well. There’s no way we could’ve pulled off this album when we were younger. After thirty years, we finally made the record we aspired to make as kids.”
Retreating to Nashville in late 2020, they reteamed with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Matt Rollings (Willie Nelson) and rather than overthink anything or over prepare, they dove right into the deep end.