• Christine

Blues Traveler Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of “Four”!

Updated: Mar 21

On September 13, 1994, Blues Traveler released their fourth album – “four“. The album sprung Blues Traveler into mainstream music, with “four” containing the hits “Run-Around” and “Hook“.


The album ended up peaking at number 8 on the Billboard 200 album charts. In addition, “Run-Around” won Blues Traveler the 1995 Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.


Now, 25 years later, Blues Traveler is revisiting their most popular album and hitting the road in a limited number of cities to play the album in its entirety.


I saw Blues Traveler twice on their 30th anniversary tour. You can read more about those shows here.


So how will Blues Traveler show #3 be? Keep reading to find out!

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THE VENUE

This time around, Blues Traveler is playing The Fillmore – one of my favorite venues in Philadelphia!


The size of the room is perfect. Even if you stand all the way in the back (which we did for this show), you are sill close enough to have a great view. The acoustics in the room are fantastic. The bathrooms are spacious and clean (always a plus!). Parking near the venue is easy and inexpensive. Plus, the venue is located in the Fishtown neighborhood, which has lots of restaurant and bars to choose from for your pre-show or post-show food and drinks.


Tip #1: As mentioned above, The Fillmore is located in the up and coming Fishtown neighborhood. There are plenty of food options for grabbing a bite before the show. Two of my favorites are Frankford Hall, which serves German food and beer, and Fette Sau, which serves barbeque. If you want something a little less pricey and much more down to earth, grab a burger at Johnny Brenda’s. A Philadelphia institution itself, they also have live music regularly. It’s a great place to stop in after a show.


Tip #2: Parking near The Fillmore is easy. There are two lots located near the venue. The cost to park is typically $10-15. If your timing is good and you don’t mind walking a little further, you can typically find parking on Frankford Avenue or the surrounding neighborhood streets. Most of it is free, but be sure to read the signs to make sure you aren’t parked illegally. Also, be aware that the trolley comes down Frankford Avenue. I’ve seen people that haven’t parked close enough to the curb, and the trolley can’t get through. They will have your car towed if you are blocking the trolley route.


Tip #3: Because the venue is so small, there really isn’t a bad spot in the room. I usually hang out in the back next to the sound board. That keeps me out of the crowd. From there, I also have good access to the bar and to the bathrooms.


THE SHOW


MAGNOLIA BOULEVARD


ABOUT THE ARTIST

Magnolia Boulevard formed in 2017 in Lexington, KY. The band is made up of Ryan Allen (keys), Todd Copeland (drums), Gregg Erwin (guitar), Maggie Noelle (vocals/guitar) and John Roberts (bass).


Magnolia Boulevard created a name for themselves by playing shows in the Lexington area. The shows were improv heavy, which works for a band of musicians that all had lots of experience playing with other bands before coming together.


A while back, the band happened to be playing a show where legendary guitar maker Paul Reed Smith was conducting a guitar clinic. Smith was so impressed with the band and their set, he decided to take them under his wing. Magnolia Boulevard is currently working on recording their first album under the mentorship of Smith. Their first single – “Sister” – is out now.


Magnolia Boulevard is currently on the road supporting Blues Traveler on the “four” tour. You can check them out on their website.


THE PERFORMANCE

I hope that if you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ve learned a few things. One of the things I hope you have learned is always go see the opening act. And boy am I glad I followed my own advice for this show!

Magnolia Boulevard

Magnolia Boulevard impressed me and the fans that came out early for the show!

Magnolia Boulevard is amazing! Their music is a little bluesy, mixed with some funk, and maybe even a twinge of country. Maggie Noelle’s voice is incredible. She reminds me a lot of Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive. She has that sultry, jazzy voice that really suits the music.


Guitarist Gregg Erwin is also amazing. I don’t know much about playing the guitar, but my husband commented after their set, that he was in awe that not only did Erwin do what he did on guitar, but he did it without using a pick.

I could tell that Magnolia Boulevard typically does a lot of improv when they play live. In a short set, it’s hard to pull much improv off, but they managed to do it extremely well.

Magnolia Boulevard

Catch this band if you can!

After seeing Magnolia Boulevard live, it’s no mystery why Paul Reed Smith was so anxious to work with this band. They are definitely a band to watch!


BLUES TRAVELER


ABOUT THE ARTIST

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.

Blues Traveler

Blues Traveler continues to impress with their live shows – even after all these years!

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 Blow Up the Moon – in 2015. Their most recent album – Hurry Up and Hang Around – was released in 2018.

You can check out the rest of their tour dates for the “four” tour on their website.


THE PERFORMANCE

Let me start by saying that this was an impressive show! John Popper and the rest of Blues Traveler were on fire last night. Popper mentioned how he couldn’t believe how old they were. Well, they certainly didn’t show their age!

Blues Traveler

Blues Traveler thrilled the crowd with their show in Philly!

Popper’s voice was strong throughout the show and his work on the harmonica was just crazy. The Blues Traveler “sound” is really defined by Popper’s harmonica, and he was on point with it last night.

Blues Traveler

John Popper playing the harmonica during the show last night.

Interestingly, unlike most “album shows”, they didn’t play the songs in chronological order like most bands do. Even so, this show was clearly a celebration of the album “four”. Every song on the album was played. Popper mentioned during the show that they were going to “lock the doors” of the venue until everyone heard every song. And, when a fan shouted out a request for a song that wasn’t off the album, Popper joked that they should have asked for that song a few years ago instead.


Blues Traveler is all about the music, and they definitely know how to jam. A highlight of the night was when they brought Maggie Noelle and Gregg Erwin from Magnolia Boulevard back on stage to jam with them.

Blues Traveler

Magnolia Boulevard joined Blues Traveler on stage for an amazing jam session!

Of course, even the casual Blues Traveler fan would have recognized their hits “Run-Around” and “Hook”. However, another highlight of the night for me was when they played “Brother John”. Popper was on fire – both vocally and on the harmonica, as were the rest of the guys.

It’s really great to see John Popper looking happy and healthy and truly enjoying himself on stage. Blues Traveler is one of those bands that we can only hope continue to make amazing music for a long time!

Blues Traveler

It’s great to see Blues Traveler on the road and continuing to make great music!

Are you a Blues Traveler fan? Have you seen them on this tour? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com.


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#BluesTraveler #four #thefillmore

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