Harmonica virtuoso John Popper celebrates his 50th birthday today. As frontman for Blues Traveler, Popper was among the founders of the jam band scene that emerged in the early 1990s along with similarly minded acts such as Widespread Panic, Spin Doctors, Aquarium Rescue Unit and Phish. In honor of Popper’s birthday, here’s a look at five outstanding guest appearances he’s made since 2013.
“This Is A Call Jam” with Foo Fighters – August 27, 2015
Foo Fighters is just about the last band you’d expect John to appear with, yet there he was on the Klipsch Music Center stage in Noblesville, Indiana on August 27, 2015. Dave Grohl & Co. had nearly finished “This Is A Call,” when the frontman shocked fans by introducing Popper. The band and their guest embarked on a fiery bit of improv that saw Popper duel with Grohl to the delight of the audience.
[Video captured by Corey Taylor]
“What Would You Say” with Dave Matthews Band – July 7, 2015
Dave Matthews Band broke through into the mainstream with their 1994 single “What Would You Say” which featured contributions from John Popper. The Blues Traveler frontman has appeared with DMB over 30 times since 1991 with the most recent performance coming on July 7, 2015 at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan.
[Multi-cam video compiled by ChesterCopperpot5]
“Glory” with Bill Evans’ Soulgrass feat. Jake Cinninger & John Medeski – February 28, 2013
In the Winter of 2013, Bill Evans’ Soulgrass played a residency at the Blue Note in New York City that saw the band team with many special guests. One of those guests was Popper, who added to a version of the Umphrey’s McGee instrumental “Glory” that also featured Jake Cinninger and John Medeski on February 28.
[Video captured by LazyLightning55]
“Sugaree” with Warren Haynes, George Porter Jr. and Anders Osborne – January 8, 2014
John Popper appeared on Jam Cruise 12, where he played with a variety of projects over the course of the trip. One standout of his time aboard the boat was his contributions to a set from Warren Haynes. Popper added both harmonica and vocals to a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree” that also featured George Porter Jr. and Anders Osborne.
[Video captured by TheFunkItBlog]
“Runaround” with Yonder Mountain String Band – May 22, 2016
The Blues Traveler frontman was among the guests honoring Wavy Gravy’s 80th birthday at a celebration for the counter-culture icon held at SOMO Center in Rohnert Park, California on May 22, 2016. Popper’s appearance with jamgrass act Yonder Mountain String Band included a version of one of Blues Traveler’s best-known songs, “Runaround.”
[Video captured by Adrienna Monique]