The Venn Diagram of ‘Blues Traveler Fans’ and ‘people who like hearing songwriters talk about the music they’re performing’ intersected at The Egg’s Swyer Theater on Thursday, May 3, with John Popper performing songs from across his catalog with fellow Blues Traveler Ben Wilson accompanying him on piano. Over two hours, Popper would dip into song after song, rip passionate vocals onto the crowd, dive into a high arcing harmonica solo, and then after closing the song out, get into a story about that, or the next song. Katrina Woolverton opened for Popper, performing originals such as “Better now” and covered Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” alongside guitarist Lance Conner.
Gen X fans of Blues Traveler brought their kids to listen to Popper perform “100 Years,” “Regarding Steven,” and “Alone,” which brought Popper and Wilson back to the early 90s when they lived on 134th street in NYC. “Champipple” had an interesting backstory involving an episode of Sanford and Son where Fred shares his recipe for homemade Champagne – Ripple and Ginger Ale. “Mountains Win Again” and “But Anyway” both made appearances, as well as “Hurry Up and Hang Around,” off the upcoming Blues Traveler album, due out this October, and was inspired by their 2014 trip on JamCruise. “Carolina Blues” led into Wilson’s piano solo of the night, and then seamlessly worked into “Hook,” earning a standing ovation from the audience, and again for an encore of “Imagine” with Woolverton and Wilson.
Popper has evolved over the past 30 years of Blues Traveler into an elder statesman of the jam scene, and being the founder of H.O.R.D.E., he certainly earned the title at a young age. At the same time, Popper looks like your neighbor who takes pride in mowing his lawn and has two young kids running around that he dotes on. Either way, this is a Popper tour real fans should plan to catch.