Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blues Traveler's John Popper tries out new, similarly named, side project

By Meredith Deliso

Coming up in the city during the late 1980s, John Popper was no slouch — he’d play five, maybe six gigs a week. Eleven gigs in a row was the record to beat.

“I remember bragging about that for a long time,” said Popper, the harmonica-sporting frontman of Blues Traveler. “Boy, the stuff I cared about when I was 22.”

Popper could give his younger self a run for his money. Nearly 20 years after  “Run Around” got stuck in our heads, Blues Traveler is still touring pretty much constantly. And Popper’s new side project, the Duskray Troubadours, isn’t letting up either, with an East Coast tour that brings him to Brooklyn Bowl on April 22.

“Around our 20th anniversary, the songwriting of Blues Traveler was feeling too much like an assembly line,” said Popper. “It made me want to try something different.”

He describes the resulting band as the scrappy, roots-rock alter ego of Blues Traveler — so don’t expect quite the same epic, rocking tunes when they play Brooklyn Bowl.

“I feel like the audience comes with an expectation and they’re surprised,” said Popper. “It’s really fun to do stuff that’s more melody driven. It’s just a lot of beautiful stuff.”

The Brooklyn show is a bit of a homecoming for Popper, who lived in Park Slope and Fort Greene during the late 1980s, though he has long since traded Bergen Street and Ashland Place for a place north of Seattle.

“The Williamsburgh Savings Bank clock tower — that’s how I knew where I was,” remembered Popper. “Brooklyn holds a lot of memories. We had come here [on this tour].”

John Popper and the Duskray Troubadours at Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Ave. between N. 11th and N. 12th streets, (718) 963-3369], April 22 at 8 pm. Tickets $10. For info, visit


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