Blues Traveler

Windstream Party in the Park

Blues Traveler

Kat Wright

Thu · July 13, 2017

5:00 pm

Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Manhattan Square

Rochester, NY

Blues Traveler
Blues Traveler
Seventeen years after scoring the Grammy Award winning, harmonica laced Billboard Top Ten breakthrough hit that came to define pop music in the mid-90s, Blues Traveler are still finding unique ways to ensure that they don’t give their legion of worldwide fans the “Run-Around.” On their instantly infectious, musically expansive 11th studio album and 429 Records/SLG debut, Suzie Cracks The Whip, they remain creatively focused while dramatically expanding their musical horizons upon celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band.

John Popper (vocals, harmonica), Chan Kinchla (guitars), Tad Kinchla (bass), Ben Wilson (keyboards) and Brendan Hill (drums, percussion) had a blast working for the first time ever with a handful of dynamic outside songwriting collaborators and the powerhouse production team of Sam Hollander and Dave “Sluggo” Katz, aka S*A*M and Sluggo–who have worked their studio magic for everyone from rap rock band Gym Class Heroes to pop princess Katy Perry.

The first questions on everyone’s mind as Blues Traveler breaks ground on quarter century #2 is “Who is Suzie?” and “Where did she get the whip?”

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Brendan Hill says, “That’s Suzie Shinn, assistant engineer at Killingsworth Studios in Valley Village, California, who is truly the unsung hero on this project. She was awesome, doing it all from vacuuming up our messes at night to jumping into her chair to track our overdubs, and recording us in two rooms at the same time, vocals in one, rhythm section stuff in the other. One day, we had a photo shoot in back of the studio. John Popper, being a bull whip aficionado, was showing one to us and urging Suzie to try it. So we got a great pic of her swinging and cracking it. It was a fun moment that summed up our approach to the whole project, putting all our chips in yet not taking things too seriously. After playing together for so many years, we had another great opportunity to make music together, so we were thinking, ‘Why not celebrate it?’”

Says John Popper: “Using the concept metaphorically, we weren’t cracking the whip on the outside writers we collaborated with on the album as much as they were cracking it on us. Working with them really brought out incredibly creative ideas we didn’t know we had in us. In the past, our concept (at least in our minds) had always been to be like some misguided homage to the Beatles and write and produce everything in house, but as the band progressed it felt like we were drawing from the same well over and over. I love these guys like my family, but after writing the same way with the same people for 25 years, it was good to find a new outlet and take a different approach. Likewise, S*A*M and Sluggo helped remind us about what was cool about Blues Traveler in the first place. It’s easy to forget what’s cool about yourself after so many years of being you.”

One of the ways Blues Traveler shares the joy on Suzie Cracks The Whip is by giving Popper, the band’s poet in chief, an augmentation on the songwriting front, bouncing around song ideas with other writers. Hill describes their typical writing process on most of their albums as an insular, closed-door process of wood shedding amidst themselves. This time, they trekked to Austin, Texas, one of their favorite cities, piled into a studio located in a barn on Red Horse Ranch and narrowed down to a list of five collaborators—most of which brought in rough versions of two or three songs to work from. The formidable A-list yielded impressive material that created the foundation for what Chan Kinchla unabashedly calls “the best all-around record we’ve made since Four. Just like the recording later in L.A., it was a loose fun atmosphere, like a songwriting party. That energy shines through in the music.”
Kat Wright
Kat Wright
Kat Wright, whose voice is both sultry and dynamic, delicate yet powerful; gritty but highly emotive and nuanced, has been described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse”. Add to that voice enough stage presence to tame lions, and the combination of feline femininity proves immediately enchanting. There’s soul flowing in and out of her rock ‘n’ roll with a serpentine seduction. Some of soul music’s sweet, grand dames belt, shout, seethe, and succumb, while Wright sings gently like a heartache’s apology. It’s funky in spots and beautiful all over. And it hurts a little … like it should.
Venue Information:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Manhattan Square
353 Court St
Rochester, NY, 14607