Last month we invited Blues Traveler over to a roof deck in Ridgewood, Queens to perform a few songs—new and old—for our Gothamist House series. On the appointed afternoon, Popper & Co. emerged from a bus looking as though they'd been teleported into some alternate universe. The normally quiet stretch of Queens' Bleecker Street was a strange spot for them to stop, and more than likely there were a few locals peering out the window taking in the small but unusual spectacle.
The neighborhood sits on the border of Bushwick, Brooklyn, and its geography has led to the creation of the cringeworthy monicker "Quooklyn." And now, on top of craft cocktail bars, Ridgewood can lay claim to having had the band perform above its streets—their very own Beatles moment, scaled down to size. Where does this fit on the gentrification scale?
The band stepped off the bus, and cigarettes were lit up as someone else in the crew looked up the stairs and sighed at the steep, narrow steps they would need to lug the gear up. An anxious-seeming handler gave me a stern look, and kept asking how long this would take. The band, however, was in very good spirits, and reminisced about living nearby back in the day.
While you will hear them claiming they've never been to Queens in the below videos, at least some of the band members—John Popper, Chan Kinchla, Brendan Hill, Tad Kinchla, and Ben Wilson—lived in the bordering borough of Brooklyn. They told stories (which Popper says will be in a book one day) of squatting in an old church in Fort Greene, and living in Williamsburg before attaining mainstream success. This was decades and decades before a term like "Quooklyn" made you throw shade at the Grey Lady.
The band is currently touring in support of their new album Blow Up The Moon, and will hit Irving Plaza this September—you can get the full list of tour dates here. Dare we say they still got it?