Brothers Keeper, with just a catalog of one album, albeit a successful one, under its belt, is a new band. But the group’s roots run deep, all the way back to the groundbreaking H.O.R.D.E. Festival tours of the 1990s.
Conceived by Blues Traveler frontman and harmonica player John Popper, the annual H.O.R.D.E. tour included everyone from Phish to King Crimson to Lenny Kravitz. The 1998 edition included Dear Liza, a band featuring Scott Rednor, who went on to find Brothers Keeper after relocating from New Jersey to Colorado when he enrolled at Colorado State University.
Brothers Keeper will make its Brooklyn Bowl debut on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Popper, as usual, will perform with the group.
“Popper has lot of energy on stage,” said Rednor. “He plays his heart out. He’s been put into a place were hes always been the frontman with Blues Traveler; the guy has a tremendous workload (with BT).”
That workload is significantly smaller with Brothers Keeper because the band has five lead singers — the core of guitarist Rednor, bassist Michael Jude and drummer John Michel, and guest performers Popper and Jono Manson.
When Rednor moved to Vail, Colo., he heard that Jude and Michel (members of John Oates’ band) were the rhythm section in town. After forming the core trio, Brothers Keeper was able to woodshed at Shakedown Bar, where Rednor is owner and musical director. After the first show in which Popper and Manson sat in, the BT frontman suggested doing a project together — hence, Brothers Keeper’s debut album “Todd Meadows.” The album also features contributions from Jason Crosby, who has played with Phil Lesh and Friends and Bob Weir, and Glenn McClelland, Ween’s keyboardist.
While a H.O.R.D.E. redux has been in various stages of discussion over the years, the festival’s impact continues to be felt – beyond the formation of Brothers Keeper.
“The H.O.R.D.E. festival really blew out the traveling circus thing,” Rednor explained. “It was the beginning of all the festivals, really. In my time — I’m 42 — in my young 20s, all of those bands, we loved them; it was like a traveling circus.”
Rednor’s band, which went on to open for Blues Traveler after the H.O.R.D.E. appearances, played as part of a H.O.R.D.E. bill that featured Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, Barenaked Ladies, Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Rusted Root, and Lenny Kravitz.
To what does Rednor attribute the lasting success of the post-H.O.R.D.E. jam band scene?
“Persistence. You gotta build it, you have to have the chemistry, you have to maintain the chemistry,” he said. “How do you do that when people die? Look at a band like Widespread Panic (their guitarist Mike Houser died in 2002). Those guys have been playing forever.
“It’s longevity. If you stick around long enough and you rock.”