Blues Traveler Outing To Showcase New Tunes, New Members

Blues-rock jam band will play seven dates, beginning in late June.

Blues-rock jam band Blues Traveler, re-formed as a quintet, will mount a seven-date tour this summer to road-test two new members and new songs slated for their upcoming album.

The tour will begin one year after the group's final performance with bassist Bobby Sheehan, who died of a drug overdose at age 31 in August 1999.

The group's last show before Sheehan's death was a benefit concert in San Francisco on June 28, with ex-Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. The band's upcoming tour begins June 28 at Metro in Chicago.

The remaining members of Blues Traveler — vocalist/harmonica player John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla and drummer Brendan Hill — will return to the road with Kinchla's younger brother, Tad Kinchla, on bass and Ben Wilson on keyboards.

The group has been holed up in a Texas studio, writing songs for the follow-up to 1997's Straight on Till Morning, which featured the song "Carolina Blues" (RealAudio excerpt).

Known for their long, improvisational jams on such tunes as "Sweet Talking Hippie," as well as for such radio-friendly hits as "But Anyway" and "Run-Around" (RealAudio excerpt), the band also will incorporate new tunes into its set, working them out live before returning to the studio to begin laying tracks, a band spokesperson said.

The band also will return to the fabled Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado to resume its annual July 4 stand, which was suspended in 1999 after Popper underwent preventative heart surgery.

Popper, 32, told radio shock-jock

Howard Stern on Monday that he had undergone recent surgery to suppress his appetite. Popper said he had had his stomach stapled, in an

effort to get his weight under control and improve his health.

The seventh date of the tour had not yet been announced at press time.

Blues Traveler tour dates:

June 28; Chicago, Ill.; Metro

June 29; Milwaukee, Wis.; Summerfest

July 1; St Louis, Mo.; Mississippi Nights

July 2; Lawrence, Kan.; Liberty Hall

July 4; Morrison, Colo.; Red Rocks Amphitheatre

July 5; Boulder, Colo.; Fox Theatre