RICHMOND, Va. — To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their hit album “FOUR,” Blues Traveler is performing the entire album (including their hits “Hook” and “Run-Around”) on stage. The “four LIVE” tour comes to The National in Richmond on Wednesday, November 6.
Richmond is also the site of one of Blues Traveler’s most memorable onstage moments, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
To commemorate the “four LIVE” tour stop, we asked Blues Traveler drummer and founding member Brendan Hill four questions about the tour, the music, and life on the road.
CBS 6: Songs like “Hook” and “Run-Around” have been live staples at Blues Traveler concerts since the album was released. Which songs on “FOUR” did you have to re-learn for the anniversary tour?
BH: I listened to and worked on all of them. It’s been a long time since I listened straight through and I have to say I really did enjoy going back.
We had a great production team with Steve Thompson and Mike Barbiero – they did an amazing job.
We haven’t played “Price to Pay”, “Freedom” or “Fallible” in quite a while, so I guess those three were what I focused on most. But I was really excited when the idea of playing the whole album came up. I do love playing all these songs and it’s going to be such a fun night!
CBS 6: Which are you most looking forward to playing live?
BH: I think “Just Wait” has such meaning for me and a lot of BT fans out there. I think about all the people who have gone through a really rough time, and a song like this comes along and speaks to them directly and says it’s going to be okay, you’re not alone. It’s a pretty powerful thing to be a part of that. Honestly, I look forward to playing all the songs!
CBS 6: How did the success of “FOUR” change your life for better and for worse?
BH: That’s a big question, as I said before we were firing on all cylinders around 1993. Even through John’s motorbike accident we were powering through. So if “FOUR” hadn’t had the success it did, I feel we wouldn’t have noticed. We would have continued on the trajectory we had begun.
But it did happen, and it did change us, we were in the radio and our shows got bigger and we were intoxicated by that.
We’re always thinking about our fans as well. That’s why we released “Live From The Fall” next, just to show we were and always will be a live band – that to see music live, whatever band you’re into, is the best way to experience the music!
You’re there with your friends, new friends, and strangers all singing along together. It’s a magical moment in time, and it’s been a real honor to be on stage and in the crowd for some very special moments in which “you had to be there” is the truth!
CBS 6: Does it still make you smile that you wrote a hit song about how easy it is to write a hit song?
BH: That’s definitely a question for John! But, I can say he has always been one of the most clever writers, both musically and lyrically. He is unabashed that he’ll steal bits and bobs from anyone, but he puts it in a way that really connects. I think for him, self analysis and writing about his own personal relationships – good and bad – as well as fictional storytelling comes so naturally. There’s an understanding of pain and not being on the inside all the time which makes his lyrics feel real.
CBS 6: Your November show in Richmond comes 26 years after you first brought the H.O.R.D.E. Festival to town. What do you remember about that 1993 H.O.R.D.E. Festival or any other visit to Richmond since that show?
BH: 1993 was a really special year. I think it’s when we were at our very best, all working together seamlessly. It took us each giving 100% to pull off everything we did that year!
The first full scale H.O.R.D.E. Festival tour, self producing our 3rd record, “Save His Soul,” going to Europe, opening for The Allman Brothers, playing Red Rocks on the 4th of July. We were really firing on all cylinders.
Richmond, of course, is always a favorite place for us! We love the audiences there and I seriously can’t wait to be back!
In addition to listening to Blues Traveler, I am also a Phish fan. Is there a story you can share of your time on stage or on tour with Phish? I know your careers were intertwined for a time.
I know we’ve played on the same festivals over the years and John has certainly sat in with Trey and Phish often.
I guess the best memory was when John dropped a mannequin of himself onto an enormous trampoline on stage during Phish’s set and the audience was horrified, because it really looked like John had bounced off and landed horribly. And wasn’t moving. Good times!
But I have to tell you that I have such awe for Phish. Musically they are brilliant, and they have such good taste and creative prowess putting together these amazing festivals and events. I just wish we had that much energy and creativity! I really do love Phish and hope someday we can all do a big show somewhere, maybe to raise money to battle climate change or something. That would be fun.
Thanks so much for the questions, see you in Richmond.
EDITORS NOTE: The Phish gag Brendan Hill referenced took place during the H.O.R.D.E. Festival in Richmond, at the Classic Amphitheater in July 1993.
Tickets for Blues Traveler in Richmond are available here.