Blues Traveler – 30th Anniversary Tour Take Two at The Queen!
Blues Traveler is one of those bands that almost everyone knows. They had a lot of commercial success in the mid-90’s, but sort of dropped off the scene for a lot of years. However, when they announced last year that they were going out on a 30th Anniversary Tour, I jumped at the chance to see them live!
Blues Traveler brought their 30th Anniversary Tour to The Queen in Wilmington, DE on Thursday night.
We first saw them back in October at the very start of the tour. My feelings about the show were mixed. John Popper seemed to be more interested in hanging out on the side of the stage smoking and drinking whatever was in those red solo cups, than performing. While he started off strong, he seemed to be struggling by the end of the show. In fact, I mentioned to my husband at the time, that I was worried about whether Popper would make it through the whole tour.
You can read more about the show in October here:
When Blues Traveler announced additional North American dates this winter, one of which was at The Queen in Wilmington, DE, I decided not to buy tickets. I was pretty disappointed in the October show, and with 2 concerts already on our calendar for the weekend, I didn’t want to spend more time and money on another disappointing show.
But, I cave pretty easily to peer pressure – particularly when it has to do with going to concerts. We were at a show last weekend, when our friend and frequent concert buddy asked if we were going to the Blues Traveler show. When we said no, she proceeded to tell us it was the day before her birthday, and would we please go with her.
Next thing I know, I’m buying tickets for the Blues Traveler concert at another concert (this happens with me a lot!), and the rest is history.
When all is said and done, I am SO glad we went to the show. Keep reading to find out why!
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HISTORY OF THE VENUE
The Queen is located in Wilmington, DE – right in the heart of its downtown area. Downtown Wilmington has gone through quite a resurgence over the last several years. There are new restaurants, a revived music scene with The Queen and The Grand, and even plans for a new microbrewery.
The building that The Queen currently occupies has quite a history. It was built in the 1800s as a hotel. In 1916, the building was converted to a movie theater, as many venues were at the time. The building closed its doors in 1959 and sat empty for the next 50 years.
In 2011, the venue reopened under the name of World Café Live at the Queen. The owners and operators of World Café Live in Philadelphia took possession of the venue to bring live music to Wilmington. As you can imagine, after a building has sat vacant for 50 years, a massive renovation was required. About $25 million was spent to restore the building and turn it into a 2-story music venue.
When The Queen was renovated, they restored a lot of the original features, including these beautiful chandeliers.
While operating as World Café Live at the Queen, the venue featured a smaller and fully-seated upstairs room, that also served as a restaurant. The larger downstairs area was able to handle about 800 people at full capacity.
In early 2017, World Café Live announced that they were no longer able to operate the venue. In the announcement regarding the closure, World Café Live president Hal Real stated that despite their attempt to operate the venue as a seven-day-a-week operation, they were unable to do so.
After several months of the building being empty, Live Nation announced that it was taking over operation of the building. Renamed as simply “The Queen”, the venue is now part of Live Nation’s House of Blues division.
THE VENUE TODAY
As for the venue itself, Live Nation is currently in the process of making some major changes. The box office/merchandise area is gone. There are plans to build a bar in that area of the building. The restaurant in the upstairs area is only open for private events. We were invited to a pre-show VIP party in the upstairs room. While the food was decent and the bar was open, Live Nation has removed most of the tables and chairs, so there were very few places to sit.
The upstairs room is only used for private parties now. There are only a few tables and chairs left in the room.
In the downstairs part of the venue, Live Nation has only made some minor changes. They’ve kept the beautiful historic touches of the building intact.
As for artists, Live Nation has clearly used the power of its brand to bring some larger acts to the venue. A look at their upcoming shows include well-known artists such as Carbon Leaf, Blind Melon, and Blue October.
Tip #1: Parking to attend a show at The Queen is usually quite easy to find. There is street parking available in the area. Be sure to read the signs and pay the meters accordingly, although most street parking is free after 6:00 p.m. If you don’t see parking on Market Street, try checking some of the streets around the block in the general vicinity. There are also several lots, as well as a parking garage nearby.
Tip #2: If you want to get dinner before the show, there are a couple of restaurants right on Market Street in downtown Wilmington. They are all within easy walking distance of The Queen. We’ve eaten at Chelsea Tavern, and it’s a great spot with good food and a good drink selection. If you want to go a little further away, Iron Hill Brewery and Joe’s Crab Shack are located right next to each other, and are both good. Those options are not within walking distance, so plan your timing accordingly.
Tip #3: The Queen has started offering a limited food menu. There is a menu at the bar on the wall on the right. To get food, place your order with the bartender. There is a small table in the back next to the bar with a heat lamp. Your food will come out and be set down there. It’s self-serve to pick up.
The main bar is all the way in the back of the room. You can get drinks and order food there.
Tip #4: The Queen is a pretty small venue. For most shows, the bottom part of the room is General Admission/Standing Room. Because the room is so small, there really isn’t a bad place to stand. If you get there before the show starts, it’s usually easy to get right up front. We like to stand on the left side of the stage. It lets us get in and out to the bathroom/bar easily.
Los Colognes is based out of Nashville, TN. Band members include Jay Rutherford (vocals, guitar), Aaron Mortenson(drums, vocals, Gordon Persha (bass), Mica Hulscher (keys) and Chuck Foster (keys).
The band describes themselves as forging their own sound, while channeling a retro pop/rock sound from past decades. The band recently released their latest album – The Wave – along with a full album video. The album was inspired by rock music from the ’70s and ’80s.
Check out their full video album here:
In the past, the band recorded their albums using a live approach. For “The Wave”, they recorded the songs from the ground up, paying attention to every detail of every sound.
If you listened to the video, you likely heard a lot of Tom Petty influences in the song. It’s clear that Los Colognes has been inspired by Petty, Dire Straits, and Pink Floyd. The third song in their set – “Molly B Good” – has a lot of Dire Straits guitar influences in it. “The White Whale” reminds me a lot of a Pink Floyd song.
What I love about this band, is that they just go out there and play. There isn’t a lot of banter with the crowd. There isn’t a lot of flash. It’s just a group of guys playing rock and roll. In fact, the most talk we got out of them, was towards the end of the set. Rutherford reminded everyone of the name of the band, and joked that it was “fake Spanish”. He said it really means “the cologne”, like the kind that you spray on yourself, and nothing more.
Los Colognes is a great rock band! You can hear influences of Tom Petty, Dire Straits, and Pink Floyd.
As with the time we saw them in October, I think Los Colognes is the kind of band that is going to have to work really hard to gain a solid following. Because they don’t have a gimmick or a lot of flash, they rely on their music. For me, that’s enough, as I think their music is amazing. In today’s world, it’s hard to convince a wide audience that the music is enough.
Los Colognes is currently out on the road with Blues Traveler in support of their 30th Anniversary Tour. There are a few more dates this month where you can catch them. The band has a couple of shows listed on their website in April. Check out their website for more information at www.loscolognes.net.
Formed in Princeton, NJ as a garage band, Blues Traveler has been making music since 1987. The group currently consists of John Popper (vocals, harmonica), Chan Kinchla (guitar), Brendan Hill (drummer), Tad Kinchla (bass), and Ben Wilson (keyboard). The band’s original bassist – Bobby Sheehan – passed away in 1999.
Popper and Hill founded another band along with high school friend and roommate Chris Barron, which eventually became The Spin Doctors. Early on, the two bands often shared the stage, and played marathon-length concerts in the New York area.
Blues Traveler is considered one of the original “jam bands” due to their improvisational live shows. They also have had commercial success with such hits as “Run-Around” and “Hook”.
The band first gained mainstream popularity with the release of their album Four in 1994. However, Sheehan’s death and Popper’s struggle with drugs and obesity caused issues for the band. Their record label dropped them in 2002.
In March of 2012, the band released “25”, which was made up of their hits, covers, and a few new songs. They followed that up with the release of their most recent album – Blow Up the Moon – in 2015.
Blues Traveler took the stage at 9:12 p.m. Popper was wearing his signature blue buttoned shirt and black hat. They walked on stage with the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” playing in the background.
John Popper was in top form – both vocally and on the harmonica – during the show!
The band kicked off with oldie “Believe Me” and then went into “Defense & Desire”. Popper’s voice sounded really strong on both.
The third song was “Stand”, and part way into the song, Popper went off to the side of the stage. Of course, my first thought was here we go again! Just like the show in October, Popper is going to spend more time off stage than on, he’s going to drink whatever is in all of those red solo cups, and the show is going to go downhill quickly.
However, to my surprise, Popper only went off stage one other time during the show. He was still putting down red solo cups full of something (although some clearly had tea bags in them), throughout the show. But, his voice remained strong and he remained on point throughout the whole show.
John Popper seemed to be having a great time throughout the show!
While Popper is the one getting most of the attention, all of the guys in Blues Traveler are extremely talented musicians. We were treated to an amazing solo by bassist Tad Kinchla during “Stand”. The other guys were also featured during different points of the show as well.
Popper is his own guy with his own sense of humor, and he lets that come out on stage. He reminded us several times during the show how important it was to tip our bartenders.
Before introducing “All Fall Down”, which is one of the songs on their new album, Popper talked about the whole idea of the band being 30 years old. He said that it was weird to think about it, and the time had gone by really fast. He asked the sold-out crowd what you do when you turn 30? After getting several answers, Popper replied that you make a new record – it’s in the bylaws. He said they were afraid it was going to suck, but it turned out really good and is being released June 29th.
After getting the crowd wound up with their cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, Popper got the crowd even more excited by talking about the Philadelphia Eagles. He said that he once dated a New England Patriots cheerleader and had to cheer for them, but he was really a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
Blues Traveler got Los Colognes involved in the show. Clint Maine came out to play on “The Mountains Win Again”, and Jay Rutherford came out on “Carolina Blues”. I have to say that Popper’s voice was great throughout the show, but was absolutely amazing during “Carolina Blues”. I was blown away!
One of the highlights of the show was having Los Colognes’ Jay Rutherford on stage during “Carolina Blues”.
After a quick encore break, Blues Traveler came out for a few more songs. We noticed a girl with a binder that said “Blues Travelers Lyrics Book” before the show, and it looked like she got a spot right up front and got Popper to sign her binder for her.
Blues Traveler kicked off their encore with a little taste of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and wrapped up with “She Becomes My Way”.
The band is currently wrapping up their tour to promote their 30th Anniversary. They have a handful of dates remaining this month and into early March. They also have a few shows and festivals scheduled throughout the summer. Blues Traveler seems to be in peak form, so I suggest checking them out. Check out their website at www.bluestraveler.com for all of the information.
Got a set list! Thank you to the sound board guy for handing this to me after the show.
Set List: Believe Me, Defense & Desire, Stand, Moby Dick, Run-Around, All Fall Down, The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels’ Band cover), The Mountains Win Again, The Wolf is Bumpin’, Carolina Blues, But Anyway, Hook Encore: Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC cover), She Becomes My Way
Have a question or comments about Los Colognes or Blues Traveler? Have questions about seeing a show at The Queen? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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