Sunday night in Annapolis and the word on the cobblestone streets is the Hard Rock. If you were looking for the ultimate jam band with amazingly blues, then Rams Head On Stage was the place to be as Blues Traveler entertained a packed house!
Lead singer John Popper, armed with his quintessential black floppy fedora and his set harmonicas, lead the crowd for a night they won’t soon forget. The band opened with true jam sessions that built into a crescendo at the end of the opening number. The jams included one of my favorite songs that brought them onto the charts, “But Anyway”. While the song is usually clocked in under three minutes, we were treated to a nine-minute jam session that feature amazing solos from guitarist Chan Kinchla, bassist Tad Kinchla and Popper himself on harmonica. Truly, a “see it to believe it” moment of the night!
Run-Around, from their 1994 album four, was a crowd pleaser that had those in attendance singing along. After the song, Popper sung “Happy Birthday” to a young lady in the audience in his bluesy voice. He even gave her one of his harmonicas for her special day but asked not to play it during the show. For the next song “Borrowed Time”, John informed us that he wrote it after his dog and it was “the worse song to sing on someone’s birthday.”
During the 2-hour set, not only did Blues Traveler sung their classic hits but they also performed songs from their latest album, 2012’s Suzie Cracked the Whip. One of those songs was a slow ballad, “Cara Let the Moon Come In”, combined the sounds from keyboardist Ben Wilson and Popper’s vocals.
The show captures the audience’s attention and won’t let go until the last note. Numerous times when they call on the audience to sing along, the audience joins in at the right moment. This happened during “Brother John” and a cover of the Isley Brothers hit “Shout”. The latter had the ladies on their feet and dancing in the aisles.
Blues Traveler are widely-known for their scintillating segues and tonight was NO different. We got treated to a single of their latest album entitled “Nobody Fall in Love with Me” which they rocked it out of the park. Next, it’s a sped-up version of the Charlie Daniels Band’s smash “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. Guitarist Chan Kinchla played the part of the Devil and believe me, his chops were on fire. Popper played the famous Johnny on Harmonica. Popper truly showed us that he “the best there’s ever been”. This was one of the best covers we heard of this song. Then, we segued into a five-minute drum solo courtesy of Brendan Hill. The solo was so epic, it can only be described as raw and aggressive. Truly, a master of his craft.
The night ended with the band playing another fan-favorite, Hook. It’s the hook of the song and the band’s rockin’ style that brings the audience to their feet for a standing ovation in the end. The audience wanted more and they got one more song! Throughout the night, John Popper raised a toast to the venue, the military branches, and the proud cities of Baltimore, Washington & Annapolis. Towards the end, he finally gives a toast to the fans for keeping them going for over a quarter of a century. Before they performed their last song, John introduced the bandmates and each of them had an amazing solo including bassist Tad Kinchla whose solo are among the highlights of the night. They closed out the night with the cover of the Sublime single “What I Got”. What we got here is the ULTIMATE JAM BAND for the evening! So Cheers to you, Blues Traveler!