Blues Traveler wasn’t a one-hit wonder, but sometimes it gets treated like one, thanks to the unforgettable “Run Around” and more modest follow-up hits “Hook” and “But Anyway.” The Princeton, N.J., band can’t seem to get the credit it deserves for a career that goes beyond those singles. Did you know, for instance, that the band has carried on to record three LPs since suffering a tragedy within the band in 1999? Or that harmonica virtuoso John Popper played on a massive Dave Matthews Band single? Before Blues Traveler plays the Sinclair in Cambridge on Tuesday, here are some songs that will make you rethink this ‘90s holdover.
The lead track off of 2001’s “Bridge” sounds like classic Blues Traveler, with funky wah-wah guitar over a jammy chord progression and plenty of Popper’s distorted harmonica. The tune has a catchy enough hook to have probably been a bigger hit if it was released just a few years earlier.
Off 1997’s “Straight On Till Morning,” this bass-driven shuffle recounts the experience of a timidly shy dancer in the lyrics, yet it’s one of the band’s best dance tracks.
Long before Gnarls Barkley or “F**k You,” Cee Lo Green went simply by Cee-Lo (including in Goodie Mob) and featured John Popper on his eclectically soulful track “Country Love.” Popper doesn’t go off like he does in some Blues Traveler solos, but he makes some solid contributions to give the tune some down-home charm.
In 2006, John Popper and Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla teamed up with DJ Logic to release an album under the name, The John Popper Project. While Logic provided samples, scratches, and an alternative kind of funkiness, Popper provides vocals and his signature harmonica honks.
There are Dave Matthews Band lovers and DMB haters, but 1994’s “What Would You Say” was one of the most widely-acclaimed hits — and Popper was in on the action with a solo in the middle. Blues Traveler was instrumental in gaining attention for the jam-rock scene of the early ‘90s by forming the H.O.R.D.E. festival, which featured a number of notable jammy studs like Dave Matthews Band, Phish, and Ben Harper.
The band’s 1994 record “Four” was its most successful, boasting two of its biggest hits. But the final track, “Brother John,” is an aggressively fast-paced jam that has become a live staple. Expect to hear it at The Sinclair.