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Bridge, Blues Traveler’s first album in four years, finds Kinchla, frontman John Popper, and drummer Brendan Hill joined by Kinchla’s brother Tad on bass and keyboardist Ben Keith, which Chan Kinchla calls a nod to the late Sheehan’s stated desire to bring an additional player into the fold.
“We were very clear that if we were going to do this, we wanted this to grow with the new players and not just be a re-creation of what we were in the past,” the guitarist says. Not surprisingly, however, many of Bridge’s songs ruminate on Sheehan’s passing — most directly “Pretty Angry,” which is dedicated to Sheehan’s younger brother, Johnny. “Johnny’s been a close friend and tight with us for years, from the beginning,” Kinchla notes. “He’s our surrogate younger brother. We feel a special kind of bond with him, a special kind of understanding of his grief, which is even beyond ours. John wrote [“Pretty Angry”] a couple of day’s after Bob’s death, when he was down in New Orleans at Bob’s house, helping the family clean up. That was coming right out of he initial grief … [but] we wanted the song to not just be a self-serving kind of expression of our grief but to take it to another level, where people could just put their own situations into it and have it resonate in the same way it does to us.”