John Popper of Blues Traveler is expected to sit in with the Allman Brothers Band tonight
Blues Traveler performing at the Rotunda in the Mall of America, Bloomington, MN 8.6.12.
John Popper, the iconoclastic frontman of Blues Traveler has once again re-invented himself with The Duskray Troubadours. His month-long recording sessions in the mountains of New Mexico were much less a solo endeavor, and more or less a collaboration anchored by the strong musical bond between Popper and Jono Manson – bandmates from days of yore. Popper put it best as, “A liberating, scrappy roots-rock alter ego of Blues Traveler.”
We’re still abuzz from Phish’s fantastic interpretation of Little Feat’s seminal 1978 live album Waiting For Columbus that we wanted to continue to pay tribute to the highly influential, yet somehow criminally underrated band.
This week we’re placing that act’s classic trucker anthem, Willin’, into the squared circle – a song that has been rumored as the reason that Lowell George was asked to leave Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention, and thus the impetus for the formation of Little Feat. The track originally appeared on the band’s self-titled debut sung in a sparse, talking, country-blues style by George and featured Ry Cooder backing him on steel guitar. The definitive version of tune was reworked for Little Feat’s sophomore release Sailin Shoes, and given the full band treatment with country-rock harmonies and some great piano work courtesy of Billy Payne.
The Black Crowes have no problem wearing their influences right on their sleeve with the band owing a great debt to Little Feat’s potent mix of rock, soul, gospel, jazz, country and funk. The Robinson Brothers & Co. have been covering Willin’ consistently since all the way back in 1992, with Chris channeling the ghost of Lowell George. Source: 2009-11-07
As an added bonus, here’s The Crowes with John Popper and the members of Wilco from a HORDE tour stop on August 27, 1995…
READ ON for more covers of Willin’ from the likes of moe., Uncle Tupelo, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan, The Byrds and others…
With an inaugural invite to Bonnaroo, solidified cast and yet another album under their belt, John Popper and co. have somehow managed to weather the music business storm for close to two decades. To catch up, we sat down for a quick “12 questions with Popper.”
Photos by Scott Preston of the John Popper Project at the 20th Century Theater in Cincinnati, OH on 4.26.05
For more of Scott’s work see: cariboustudios.com
If we learn from times of hardship more so than in times of joy, the founding members of Blues Traveler should be members of Mensa. Enduring a motorcycle crash that almost took the life of frontman John Popper, followed by angioplasty, major industry struggles, and the tragic death of bassist Bobby Sheehan, they were inevitably brought to a fork in the road, where one path went to what could have been, and the other straight ahead to reinvention. Truth be told, they chose the latter.