After being a fan of Blues Traveler since hearing “Run Around” on their classic album “Four” in middle school in 1994 (I actually bought the cassette with magazine sale credits), I had always wanted to see them live. Well, 16 years later, this past weekend I finally got the chance at the Marion Popcorn Festival here in central Ohio.

Despite describing myself as a fan, I can only name you three songs by title off the top of my head. I guess under most circumstances that really doesn’t sound impressive, however I would argue that I am a fan of not only those few songs but their sound. They have a unique niche in the ever looming landscape of “popular music”. They have formed an almost perfect hybrid of rock and blues, two genres which I love.

So does being able to name songs make someone a fan, or disqualify them if they cannot? That’s a question for another time.

The point is I was finally able to see them at a small venue nonetheless, how was the concert you ask? It was good. Not great, but good.

In many ways it seemed like a jam band concert, with songs lasting 8-10 minutes. They of course played their three notable hits: “Run Around”, “Hook”, and “But Anyway”. The most noticeable part of the show however were the multiple five minute long smoke breaks that lead singer/harmonica god John Popper and their guitarist took. This was made almost more awkward by the fact that the bassist and drummer played on, as these breaks were often mid-song.

My first thought was, “how can this guy smoke so much and still have the lung capacity to do the amazing things he does on the harmonica?” I still don’t have an answer for that, but it obviously doesn’t affect him, as he played that mouth organ for several minutes straight at times.

In the end, it was a good show as I have said. They played many covers (again calling attention to the slim number of crowd known songs they have), including: “I Want You to Want Me”, Sublime’s “What I Got”, and a quite amazing harmonica version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.

All in all, it was a nice cool September night with good popcorn and good music, and I can finally cross them off of the list of bands I would like to see. Would I see them again?

Possibly, under the right circumstances…because there is just something so alluring about the harmonica played with such unearthly finesse and skill is irresistible. In the words of the man himself,

“If I’m doing my job, it’s your resolve that breaks. Because the hook brings you back, I ain’t tellin’ you no lie.

The hook brings you back. On that you can rely…”

VIDEO CLIPS

Full Performance of “Run Around”

Full Performance of “Hook”

SETLIST

The Star-Spangled Banner>
Freedom>
The Devil Went Down To Georgia
Mulling It Over>
But Anyway
Run-Around
Forever Owed
You, Me & Everything>
You Reach Me
The Mountains Win Again>
What I Got>
NY Prophesie
I Want You To Want Me>
Hook

Encore
Crash Burn

(Setlist courtesy of  www.bluestraveler.net)

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So now it appears as though the Quran burning is called off. This in my opinion could be worse than if it had happened. If it is indeed true that an agreement has been reached to move the Ground Zero mosque in exchange for the burning to be canceled, we have all just witnessed terrorism, plain and simple.

In today’s hodgepodge of political, religious, and moral views, the one thing we are all losing is a sense of ourselves. I think it would do everyone good to take a long look in the mirror and decide for themselves, what is important in their lives, and what, in the end, is truly worth getting riled up about.

Bonfire of the Insanities

September 9, 2010

Terry Jones, a Florida Pastor is planning on leading a Quran burning over the weekend to mark the 9th anniversary of 9/11. The media and public out cry has been unbelievably large and clearly favoring the stance that he should not be allowed to do so. The reason being that it could incite terrorist attacks, put our troops over seas in danger, and is just plain “wrong”.

While everyone seems to be getting up in arms about this, I have yet to see a legal argument for why this cannot be done. This has to do with a man’s legal right to express himself without censorship. The only voice of reason I have heard was from Mayor Bloomberg (R) of New York:

“In a strange way I’m here to defend his right to do that. I happen to think that it is distasteful. I don’t think he would like it if somebody burnt a book that in his religion he thinks is holy,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a news conference updating the public on the progress of rebuilding at the World Trade Center site.

“But the First Amendment protects everybody,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “and you can’t say that we’re going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement.”

The Mayor made a clear, concise point, not an emotional, personal belief driven statement. I in no way agree with this course of action by the pastor, or think he has gone about it in a mature or rational manner. However, the fact remains that we live in a free country and have rights that are more amazing then any others at any time in history. Living in fear of possible outcomes from one man’s actions is not something that I would hope anyone would choose to kow tow to. We all are responsible for our own actions alone, and no one has the right or authority to interfere with another’s. This is true as long as it does not violate the laws of that society; and he has not broken any laws that I can see.