“BRENDAN HILL OF BLUES TRAVELER DISCUSSES RECENT WORKS” originally published in Through the Lens Magazine on April 30, 2017
Brendan Hill of Blues Traveler, legendary jam band extraordinaire, took a moment to sit down and have a chat with one of our contributors, Melodie Yvonne Ramey, to discuss some of the amazing work that they’ve been doing lately as well as their upcoming show at The Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana this Tuesday night, May 2. Brendan has been drumming for the band since its inception nearly 30 years ago, and continues to blow the minds of audiences across the nation daily. Bloomington will be in for an epically special treat next week when Blues Traveler descends upon The Bluebird, one of the most beautiful and intimate settings for a concert in the heartland of the Midwest. Make sure to get there early so as to not miss the amazing Gene Evaro Jr. as well as the opportunity to get into what will definitely be a sold out show. Until then please enjoy the following interview with Brendan to hear more about the band’s adventure as well as more about the upcoming event on Tuesday.
Melodie: In February I heard you had a residency at Caesar’s Palace called “Blues Traveler – Unhooked” which I LOVE the name of, but I’ve never been to Vegas myself, so my only impression of it is from like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. So, I was wondering how was your time in Vegas? Did you end up with any kind of Hunter S. Thompson stories of your own or witness any?
Brendan: Well, actually the residency was great, and it was a cool idea that instead of going through Vegas on sort of a one night play we stayed at the Caesar’s Palace, and we performed in kind of a slightly intimate setting. I think it was about 250 seats, but what we did differently was that we kind of like unplugged like MTV Unplugged. We played all kind of acoustically, so there were amplifiers, but Chan played acoustic guitar, Ben played the piano, John played without effects, and I played with my little, you know, brushy kind of sticks, and Tad played his electric bass, but just quietly. What was great about that was kind of going through, you know, it’s the beginning of our 30th anniversary year, 1987 was when we kind of got together, so we’ve got this large selection of songs that we are trying to kind of think about, explore, kind of go sort of retrospective, and it was just a really cool opportunity to play some of those songs we haven’t played in a while in an acoustic setting, and so we kind of changed the arrangement a little bit around, and obviously it’s a much more intimate setting in a small place like that, and then John was able to talk to the audience a little bit about each song, and it was kind of a really cool moment. We all had a lot of fun. We did I think four performances over the two weeks, and people loved it. It’s something that we might explore in the future. The thing about Vegas is that you can get pretty much food 24 hours, stay up all night, and gamble or drink, or do whatever you want to do, but I’m 47, and I’ve been to Vegas many, many times, and have had as much fun as one can have in Vegas, so I just really enjoyed the, you know, we had a great food steakhouse right next door, so I had a really nice steak, and really good restaurants in Caesar’s, so just kind of really enjoyed myself as far as doing kind of the normal activities. We didn’t stay out too late or anything like that.
Melodie: So, now on the opposite spectrum from the intimate setting you guys do Red Rocks every 4th of July. You’re going to be doing that again this year right?
Brendan: We are, yeah, and I think we put out the lineup for that a couple weeks ago. It’s gonna be us, Rusted Root, The Spin Doctors, and a band called The Samples from Colorado. What’s cool about that is, you know, again it sort of likens back to our 30th anniversary and kind of all the bands that we’ve played with in the past, and, you know, the HORDE festival which we were a big part of. It’s gonna be really fun, and I think a lot of people are excited to see that lineup, and hopefully there will be a lot of playing in between bands and that kind of thing.
Melodie: Now you mentioned the HORDE festival, I wondered if you thought about doing any more projects like maybe a “Blow Up the Moon” festival in honor of your glorious album with all those collaborators? Maybe get them all together?
Brendan: That would be really cool. I love that idea! We’re doing a couple summer packages with a couple bands this year. We’ve got a big fall tour which we’re going to do I think 35 dates starting in the beginning of October through Thanksgiving.
Melodie: And now that’s your 30th anniversary tour isn’t it?
Brendan: It’s the beginning, yeah, sort of the kick off. I mean we kind of like to stick to being very exact. We all moved to New York in ’87, sort of September/October, so that will be kind of the actual, you know, beginning of the 30th year that we’ve been kind of a professional band, and so I think aside from the fall tour which we’re really excited about we’re going to do another spring tour, and then hopefully a big summer thing next year, and so those are all things that are kind of in the works, but right now we’re playing on this tour we’ve got another I think 8 dates or so left.
Melodie: Yeah, you’ll be at The Bluebird here next week. I’ll get to come take pictures of you…
Brendan: Awesome! I can’t wait, and what’s been really fun is we’ve been sort of staying away from the big cities like Chicago… staying out of the huge mega cities, and saving that for the fall. What’s been great is we’ve been playing a lot of college towns, and I know Bloomington is a big college town. So we played in Waukegan last night, and we played in Kalamazoo a few nights ago, and we’ve been getting like big kind of college crowds coming out as well as our fans that have been with us the whole way, and so it’s a nice thing to do, sort of play your secondary markets, and really hit some places that you don’t normally go to on a big package tour.
Melodie: Yes, I’m very excited to catch you at The Bluebird. It is definitely one of my favorite Indiana venues, and now I heard, I know your opener I believe is Gene Evaro Jr. who is great, but a little birdie told me that maybe LD Miller might be performing with you?
Brendan: Maybe, yeah, you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed.
Melodie: LD is a favorite of mine so I thought well that will be fabulous to catch that too.
Brendan: Of course, yeah, he’s a friend of the bands, and whenever he is kind of in the area or doing gigs himself and he’s nearby most of the time he comes out and sits in with us which is great.
Melodie: Well, that’s fantastic. I’ve definitely been blessed to catch him play a few times as I do some work in Lafayette, Indiana, so this is definitely gonna be a great show.
Brendan: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it, and hopefully you’ll be able to take some good pictures, and just make sure that a lot of people come out and see the band ‘cause we’re having a lot of fun out there, and it’s been a long journey, but we’re having more fun playing now than I think we ever have, so it’s great.
Melodie: Oh absolutely! Well, that is all the questions I have for you, and I thank you so much for your time… I look forward to the show Tuesday!
Join the Facebook event page now at www.facebook.com/events/1303580166370952/ to stay up to date on any last minute info for Blues Traveler’s performance this Tuesday, May 2, and get more information about The Bluebird at www.thebluebird.ws
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