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Blues Traveler has new beat
by Tara Roberts
University of Idaho Argonaut, Boise, ID
Aug 19th, 2005

Blues Traveler has new beat by Tara Roberts UIdaho Argonaut Friday, 19 August 2005

With an album coming out Sept. 13, Blues Traveler has plenty of new material to play during its fall tour.

"On any given night you can play four, five, six new songs," bass player Tad Kinchla said. "It makes it fresh."

No doubt the band will perform a few such songs during Monday's free concert at the University of Idaho. The concert, presented by the ASUI Vandal Entertainment Board, will be at 7 p.m. on the Theophilus Tower Lawn.

Kinchla and bandmates John Popper on harmonica and vocals, Chad Kinchla on guitar, Brendan Hill on drums and Ben Wilson on keyboard have been touring the country all summer with tunes from ¡Bastardos! It is the band's eighth studio album and first release on Vanguard Records.

As far as the album title goes, "there's some self-degrading humor, and I think that's good," Kinchla said.

Kinchla said ¡Bastardos! is the first album that highlights the way the band's current lineup plays together. The band added Kinchla and Wilson following founding bassist Bobby Sheehan's death in 1999. Though Blues Traveler has released two albums since then, (2001's Bridge and 2003's Truth be Told), Kinchla said this one is different.

It's a natural-sounding thing," he said, "Everyone's in a good space now. It's a very different album."

Kinchla said much of the change was driven by new producer Jay Bennett. "He allowed it [...] to be organic." The band members, who split writing credits on the album though Popper wrote most of the lyrics, experimented with layering and new ideas for their music. Since the album was recorded in Texas, Kinchla said it has a Mexican-American vibe.

While Kinchla said the band expects fans to be surprised by the changes, it isn't planning to shock anyone.

"I don't think it's anything drastic. I think this is where we are, where we've progressed to," he said. "If you go back five years, I think the band has changed quite a bit."

While many songs in the band's concert lineup are from ¡Bastardos! Kinchla said the UI concert will likely include Blues Traveler's older hits, such as "Run-Around" and "Hook".

Even though Kinchla admits he gets sick of those songs because of radio overplay, he said the band recognizes that many students will want to hear them. Since the band wants to entertain, it includes familiar songs on its lists.

Kinchla said he also expects fans to particularly enjoy one song from the new album, "Amber Awaits". He said Popper wrote the song about a relationship of his, a theme many of the band's songs touch.

"If you peel it down, they're all very simple messages," he said. "Most people like to hear something they can relate to."

The band has played several large, free concerts over the summer, and Kinchla said they have all gone fantastically. We've actually been really nailing those shows this year," he said. "We're one of those bands that prides ourselves on our ability to play well."

Kinchla said he anticipates another good show at UI and said the band is looking forward to playing in a new place. "It's nice to see beautiful places in this country," he said.

Local band Oracle Shack will open for Blues Traveler. Entertainment Board Concerts Chair Amy Steele said the board chose Oracle Shack at the last minute, but is pleased with its choice.

"We just wanted someone local, someone who fit the style of the music and someone everyone could enjoy," she said.

ASUI president Autumn Hansen said the Entertainment Board was able to bring Blues Traveler to campus for free using money from increased student fees.

"It is something the students are putting into," she said.

Steele said the Blues Traveler concert is only the first in a line of bigger-name concerts at UI.

"Every show should be bigger than it has been in the past."