Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blues Traveler Reviewed: 09/20 Mystic Petaluma

Delayed Post... I saw Blues Traveler at my hometown venue, The Mystic Theatre, in downtown Petaluma, CA on Sunday the 20th. This was the second time I’ve seen Blues Traveler in the last couple of years-I caught them at the Fillmore in ’06- and I have to say that they are a still a great bar band...

Ok. So this is a review/story of a band that is still a working class group of true rock and rollers. I will admit that I am slightly biased due to the fact that I recorded my first rock EP at Santa Barbara Sound Design right around the same time that John Popper and his crew recorded their album Truth be Told at said studio. My buddy Adam is the son of Dominic Camerdella, owner and head engineer at SBSD and we got a chance to hang a bit with the boys and they were all down to earth and cool. That album has some great tunes on it, which I may have missed if I wasn’t at the right place at the right time. Flash forward, now its ‘09 and Blues Traveler still hasn’t had a hit since Kingpin came out in 1996. WHO CARES!!! Did these guys ever want to have a big album? I’m sure they’ve always wanted to make good cash doing what they do and why shouldn’t they, but I don’t think they give a rat’s whether or not every song they write is a “Hook,” or a “Runaround.” Is playing huge arenas even more fun than playing bars and theaters? These guys are a tight blues band with a seriously talented front-man who writes great lyrics (not 100% of the time, but the dude has some serious heavy hitters that you don’t hear on the radio) and plays blues harmonica with the best of all time.
So...They came to the Mystic Theatre and I must say I was again impressed with their ability to just stick with their roots and guns and play some groovin’ blues and hard hitting rock. Being that Petaluma is a small town and every local knows just about every other local, I chatted with my friend who is in charge of booking and business on the venue side of all things McNears/Mystic. She let me in the some interesting knowledge about the band. First off, they were expensive...Mystic pays more, we pay more, fine. They had some hits and benefit from those songs fourteen years later, cool, no biggie. My roommate is playing with Naked Eyes right now!! (Look them up, 80’s, you’ll know the song, still getting paid) At least they happily played them all and the crowd loved it. The good stuff....She told me that Popper and the crew required different items then most big acts that come through. Most traveling bands are tired and on the road for long stretches and therefore require healthy food and refreshing items in their greenroom. No. Popper requires fried food, squeezable tubes of mayonnaise AND miracle whip and insane amounts of alcohol. They also require more alcohol on stage in the form of a bottle of Grey Goose, a bottle of Crown, and a full cooler of beers. This is on top of the fact that Popper turns around to smoke and entire cigarette to his face about every THREE songs.
Some people live and breathe rock and roll and others just want nothing more than to kill themselves slowly through their vices. Rarely, there are those that contain both qualities. They’re usually dead by now, though. Sure Popper had his stomach surgery, but I’m pretty sure his doctors would disagree with his current lifestyle...
They came out, Popper said “Let’s Boogie,” and they did. Until they were coerced off stage after an aggressive cover of Cheap Trick’s “I want you to want me.” Other notables included all of their four hits “Mountains,” “Runaround,” “Hook,” and “But Anyway,” and Popper’s insane version of “Devil went down to Georgia,” which has made many a kid sacrificially burn their fiddle and beg god for forgiveness.

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