Some of the best blues rock around was on display at The Fillmore Saturday night as Blues Traveler made a stop in Charlotte on their fall tour.  The band is a great example of pure, blues based rock and roll with a mix of folk, soul, and Southern rock thrown in for good measure.  The band first got their start as a garage band  in Princeton, New Jersey when the guys were still in high school and have morphed into one of the best live rock bands in the world.  Scoring major hits with their fourth album “four,” Blues Traveler broke through into mainstream rock charts with songs like “Run-Around” and “Hook” leading the way.

The band is currently touring in support of their latest album “Hurry Up & Hang Around.”  The crowd was pumped and the venue was packed as Blues Traveler took the stage.  One of the best things about seeing Blues Traveler live is you never know exactly what you’re going to hear.   They are known for their improvisation and the set list can vary dramatically over the duration of their tour, changing things up from city to city.  Led by frontman John Popper, the band started out in top form.  Since the band members have been playing with each other for so long, they run like a well oiled machine as they anticipate each other’s moves and nuances.  Drummer Brendan Hill was a force behind the kit as bassist Tad Kinchla helped drive the pace.  Guitarist Chan Kinchla was on fire, as he let riff after riff fly, seamlessly adding blues licks and solos all evening long.  Keyboardist Ben Wilson added the additional flourishes to round out their sound as the band tore through  their set.

New songs “Accelerated Nation” and “When You Fall Down” fit right into the set list alongside Blues Traveler classics.  John Popper is an amazing talent and his voice resonated across the Fillmore as he held the notes longer and longer while the crowd cheered him on.  He is also a skilled blues harpist as he grabbed one harmonica after another from his stand, making for the perfect accompaniment to the music. Popper kept the chit chat to a minimum but took some time to recognize the bartenders as he called them heroes and urged the crowd to tip generously.   True to their jam style of playing, there was time for each member to take a moment or two in the spotlight with an extended  keyboard solo from Wilson.  As the evening went on, songs began to have a life of their own as the band infused the songs with snippets and jams from classic blues and rock artists including the mighty Led Zeppelin.  A highlight of the night was a cover of The Charlie Daniel’s Band hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” during which Popper changed the “Georgia” to “Charlotte” as the crowd roared.

It was an amazing night of music as the band and fans fed off each other’s energy and a true one of a kind experience.  Make sure to check out Blues Traveler when they hit up a city near you.  You won’t be disappointed.


Set List:


The Wolf Is Bumpin’

Sweet Talking Hippie

Things Are Looking Up

Run Around

The Touch She Has

But Anyway

Accelerated Nation

Dropping Some NYC

The Devil Went Down To Georgia (The Charlie Daniel’s Band cover)

Ode From the Aspect

Carolina Blues


When You Fall Down

Photo Gallery

We would like to thank Hannah Bannan from Cast Management for the credentials to review the show.

About The Author Kris Engelhart

I am a small business owner, freelance writer, and part-time piano instructor in Charlotte, NC. My musical career started at the age of five when I was forced into taking piano lessons. I played flute in the school band and added the guitar as a young teen. There is nothing I would rather do than be at a live show. My first concert was Shaun Cassidy at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo in 1978. My top five live shows ever are: 1. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY 1984- They played for 3 ½ hours and it was awesome. 2. Carolina Rebellion- Metrolina Expo Grounds, Charlotte, NC, May, 2011 – The first ever Carolina Rebellion featured over 15 bands with Avenged Sevenfold headlining. Non-stop music for over 12 hours. 3. Chevelle- Food Lion Speed Street, Charlotte, NC, May, 2008 - The first time I ever saw Chevelle live and I was hooked! 4. Skillet with Red- Bojangle’s Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, April, 2010 – Skillet is one of my favorite bands and they totally kick it live. 5. 106.5 The End’s Weenie Roast #9- Verizon Wireless Amiptheater, Charlotte, NC , October, 2003- Featured Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace.