For years, Blues Traveler frontman John Popper had a serious pain in the neck.
Last month, that resulted in a sudden surgery to repair three collapsed vertebrae in his neck and back, news reports said. Shows were canceled for much of August. Now, the 49-year-old harmonica virtuosa is back on his feet and once again able to Run-Around.
“Popper … was miraculously mobile and led Blues Traveler through a jam-packed set” at KAABOO 2016 music festival over the weekend in Del Mar, blogs.dailynews.com reported.
On Friday, the rock and rollers will be in Reno for an 8 p.m. performance at the Cargo Concert Hall. Advance tickets for the 18-and-older show are $27.
The surgery was described as an emergency. The spinal problems had been building for years and could have resulted in eventual paralysis if left untreated, Popper said. A comedian by nature, the performer took the situation in stride, displaying a Facebook post of himself wearing a surgical cap with a caption that read “And here we go.”
A prolific songwriter and guitarist in addition to making the harmonica sing, Popper composed Blues Traveler’s most famous song, “Run-Around,” which garnered a Grammy Award in 1996.
Popper also penned the song “Hook,” a satirical take on musical lyrics directed at listeners. He sings: “It doesn’t matter what I say/ So long as I sing with inflection/ That makes you feel I’ll convey/ Some inner truth of vast reflection/ … When I’m stuck and need a buck/ I don’t rely on luck, because/ the hook brings you back.”
A big supporter of the Second Amendment, Popper is an avid collector of weapons, including swords, firearms and even a refurbished American Civil War cannon. He’s also fiery onstage and a well known collaborator with other artists, performing with the likes of the Spin Doctors, The Allman Brothers Band, the Dave Matthews Band, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Metallica, and bluesmen B.B. King and Eric Clapton. In 2003, he joined Ziggy Marley to deliver a stunning rendition of “No Woman, No Cry” at an Independence Day concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Popper is joined onstage by guitarist Chan Kinchla, drummer Brendan Hill, bassist Tad Kinchla and keyboardist Ben Wilson. In 2015, Blues Traveler released its 12th studio album, “Blow Up The Moon,” in collaboration with a number of guest artists.
– Randy Hashagen