THE POPA CHUBBY EXPERIENCE
On Saturday, Nov, 9th, 2002, we arrived at the venue called "Alando" at about 4:00 in the afternoon in the town of Onsabrück, Germany. We walked around the front of the building and suddenly Brigitte happened to see a big black panel truck with blackened windows from Hamburg, she said "Popa Chubby could be inside". We walked around the back of the building and sure enough it did have something to do with Popa Chubby, it was his equipment van pulling up to the back door to unload. The van driver was very friendly and receptive to our questions, and he gave us some useful information concerning the evening’s concert. His name was Peter and he is the road / tour manager for the Popa Chubby Band. We met him again later before and after the concert. We got into the building at 5:00 and the gig began at 7:00, we introduced ourselves to the two partners who own and operate the club. Then we went up the stairs to sit and wait. After an hour Brigitte’s eyes got very large and she couldn’t speak—all she could do was point to someone coming up behind me, Popa Chubby was walking towards us and as I turned around I was just in time to stop him, shake his hand and introduce ourselves.
I reminded him that he signed our Ten Years After Guestbook on our website and his response was "I remember".
I asked him to please sign a poster that was right behind
him hanging on the wall and he said “I’m not going anywhere, I’ll
be here all night
The room started
filling up and we figure
about 350 people attended the show. One of Popa’s fans that we met had
been to see him three times before, this would be his fourth and he
brought his friend along with him, we invited both of them to join us at
our front row table. About ten minutes before it begins the speakers
start blasting Popa’s music, and then -- bang-- he and the band are on
stage, and he’s off and running. Popa has his dark sun glasses on and he kicks
the stage monitor because it’s too close to him and he needs more room
to move. The first song last about fifteen minutes, he then throws his
sunglasses backwards in the direction of the drummer in a pissed off
action, is he really pissed off or just trying to get his creative juices
flowing? Our guess is both. He then starts to complain about the sound,
the sound just isn’t what he wants for a Rock and Roll band, right now Popa is just getting warmed up to start on a
bombastic titrate, he is really pissed off, and its no joke.
He continues by saying “If you don’t get the sound right you
had better give all these people back their money” with that comment
everybody for miles around knows that Popa has just hit town, and the
shit is going to hit the fan, the people in charge of the sound start to
trying to correct the problem, because this was his second warning, and
anyone who knows Popa’s reputation knows for a fact there won’t be a
third, there is going to be Hell to Pay!!!
The sound suddenly got better, Popa calmed down and started
talking about Breast / Tits,
Fake Breast, Large Breast, Silicone Breast and Real Breast, big
ones, little ones, firm ones and then he said "do you want to see my
breast?", everyone burst out laughing. Now the gig was in a festive
groove, Popa had everyone eating out of his hand, and we were lapping it
up, and he was just getting up to speed. Now that we were all relaxed and
happy Popa turns the table on us again, and he starts
taking things very seriously.
word that applies to him, and the band is intense, the drummer, the bass
player, and the keyboard player never take their eyes off of him.
Popa doesn’t miss a thing, and we mean nothing, his eyes are like
laserbeams, he sees and know’s everyone in the room, he looks upstairs,
(he sees there are four elderly people 65-75 years old) downstairs, (he looks at us because we are right in front) and behind him
(he has eyes in the back of his head like a New York State school
teacher). He hears everything too, if a coin just happens to fall out of
someone’s pocket by accident he can tell you who’s pocket it came
from, who picked it up and the value of the coin, and if it was returned to
its proper owner -- all at the same time, and he never missed a beat. You can
only learn to be this observant and consciously aware if you have lived
on the streets of New York, spent too much time in the streets as a kid,
or have been down and out flat broke, busted and berserk!!!
scramble trying to correct the problem, because this was his second warning, and anyone who knows Popa’s reputation knows for a fact there won’t be a third, there is going to be Hell to Pay!!! The sound suddenly got better, Popa calmed down and started talking about Breast / Tits, Fake Breast, Large Breast, Silicone Breast and Real Breast, big ones, little ones, firm ones and then he said "do you want to see my breast?", everyone burst out laughing. Now the gig was in a festive groove, Popa had everyone eating out of his hand, and we were lapping it up, and he was just getting up to speed. Now that we were all relaxed and happy Popa turns the table on us again, and he starts taking things very seriously. The word that applies to him, and the band is intense, the drummer, the bass player, and the keyboard player never take their eyes off of him. Popa doesn’t miss a thing, and we mean nothing, his eyes are like laserbeams, he sees and know’s everyone in the room, he looks upstairs, (he sees there are four elderly people 65-75 years old) downstairs, (he looks at us because we are right in front) and behind him (he has eyes in the back of his head like a New York State school teacher). He hears everything too, if a coin just happens to fall out of someone’s pocket by accident he can tell you who’s pocket it came from, who picked it up and the value of the coin, and if it was returned to its proper owner -- all at the same time, and he never missed a beat. You can only learn to be this observant and consciously aware if you have lived on the streets of New York, spent too much time in the streets as a kid, or have been down and out flat broke, busted and berserk!!!
As for his guitar - it is beaten, battered, used, and abused . The one he used on this night looked beat-up like a cross between Roy Buchanan’s, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s , and Rory Gallagher’s - all rolled into one. What comes out of his guitar is not just straight ahead Rock and Roll, it is a collection of sounds, rhythms and beats that take form in your sub-conscience mind long before your conscious mind has a chance to identify something that is familiar to it. His work is right up there on the same creative level with Charlie Parker. Brigitte is more progressive in her musical taste than I am, so for her it came simple and easy because she just accepted it without question, but for me it took a little longer. In Popa’s case he takes you on his wild ride, he hits all your emotional buttons, scares the Hell out of you (by his intimidating presence, and his direct attitude), he turns you round and round, makes you dizzy and numb, then he sets you down, pats you on the head and then he’s gone down the road. Popa is everyone you have ever met and everything that you have known in your life. One Big Loveable, Ass-Kicking, Rip your heart out - Teddy Bear of a man. He takes no prisoners, he gives no quarter, yet helps the little old lady across the street with their package, on any street in New York City, like a good Boy Scout would, (when no one is looking of course, and he will tell that’s a lie that he’s not that nice.). In short, Popa Chubby is an extremely intelligent, walking-talking Enigma!!! In his own words “I say what I say and I do what I do”, that is the truth, some people just need an attitude adjustment and he is just the person to give it. (Dave) My personal impression is that this man could persuade me to hand him $100.00 out of my own pocket for a set of four tires just because he said it was a good deal, and I would be happy about it, and after he was gone I would realize that I don’t even own a Damn Car. Popa Chubby is a musical genius, he has nothing to hide, he wears his heart on his sleeve. His music comes from pain, frustration, and a thousand musical influences, what you see is what you get.
We present to you a list of some of the people who have influnced him over the years, this will give you some insight on his music: His Father loved Jazz, his Mother liked Disco music, and visiting club 54 in NYC, he got to see Chuck Berry in person when he was young, and here are some of his other substantial influences: Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Freddy King, Albert King, BB King, Carlos Santana, Dick Dale, Link Ray, Wes Montgomery, (William) Willie Dixon, Joe Cocker, James Brown, Robert Johnson, Sly Stone, The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, ect.ect. Soul, Jazz, Funk, Blues, Rock and Roll, Space, Rap, and all performed with the high energy of Punk. As for bands Popa thinks Ten Years After is a great band, and you can hear some traces of Aerosmith and a thousand others all combined in his vast alchemy. The highlight of the evening was when he took his guitar and shoved it through the front of the Sonor bass drum with overt reckless abandon (it’s no wonder he says “One Million Broken Guitars”) then proceeded to place himself on the drum stool and that’s when the fun started. Note: (Popa started his musical career on Drums, so he was no amateur in this area, the man is an expert) This was the best part because he could just relax and have some great fun, and we were all right there with him. He and the drummer who was now standing up had the most exciting two-person-drum-solo we have ever seen, they followed each other and beat the Shit out of that drumset. It is no wonder they use Sonor! (no joke, Sonor is the best made drum kit on the world market today). The encores were over and it all came to a happy and beautiful end. We said good-bye to our table mates and headed for the band members, the stage, and Popa himself. I was lucky enough to find two guitar picks, and a broken drumstick on the stage, it was all that remained.
Popa was sitting behind a table making himself available for autographs and some conversation. We had him sign about fifteen autographs and had the chance to talk a little bit to the big man himself. I started by taking his towel and saying “oh let me wipe that sweat off your head for you” this lasted for about ten seconds, and Popa said “will ya get out-ta here with that thing” with a big smile on his face.We kept coming back for more request of him and for the band and they kept being generous and willing to appease us in every way.
Brigitte and I can’t say enough good things about Popa and his band, this also goes for the staff at the Alando,and the owners / partners who took care of our every want and need during our visit there. Thank You to everyone from Brigitte and Dave.
Conclusion: Popa Chubby and his band give you more than your
money’s worth, a great time is had by all, he stays on stage until the
audience is satisfied, he walks and doesn’t run, he sticks around to
greet his fans, he is available, approachable and honest. He will do unto
others as is done unto him, show this man some much deserved respect and
it will be returned to you ten fold, but cross him up, do him dirty, or
short change him in anyway, and may the Good Lord Above have mercy on
your soul, because no one else can save you. If you mess up with
him there is just one thing for you to do
“Put your head between your knees and Kiss Your Ass Good-bye!!!
Popa Chubby is the Real Deal --- The Real Thing. Popa is Popa and he’s here to stay.
To learn more about Popa Chubby read these quotes from him:
“To me the blues is sacred”
"New York City Blues is raw urban music that hits you in the face, it’s the real thing, honest and true, no pretense or waste of time”
“As a musician,all you can do is hope you survive your mistakes”
“The record industry is not your friend they don’t care about you,all they care about is their bottom line”
"There are thousands of new albums released every year,how do you expect people to be able to find yours in all that clutter?”
“One of the most important things I’ve learned in this business is the best things come from the strangest places”
"On playing in New York City subway’s. He quit his $5.00 an hour job and headed underground when he realized he could make up to $100.00 a day playing guitar for two hours. “It was great,I learned a lot about song writing,moved some product,and even got some great gigs that way” (from the Fall of 1997 by Scott McCormick)
Popa Chubby attributes his success in France to the fact that the French “ have a reverence for Blues and for Jazz, for Americana, and for things that are original”
He can’t hide in the streets of Paris or other cities in Europe, where he tours extensively through Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Belgium, “It’s a smaller world in Europe”.
“When people come to see me, most of them get it immediately”
“Music is a very magical but inexact science”
Honesty is his trademark: “My ultimate goal is to write the perfect three-minute pop song and cross that with the ultimate jam by Hendrix, Coltrane, and Bird-and lyrics by Tom Waits, as time goes on, I’m getting closer and closer”.
About his music he says, “It’s not the flavor of the month, and it’s guaranteed to last”
About Freddie King, “Freddie spoke to me”
“Experimentation is what it is all about to me, more than just virtuosity, I did not start out trying to be different I would hear something and go off to play it, and I’d just start being me after a few bars.” (From a review from Matt Alcott from Blues on Stage 2000) Popa Chubby mixes funky guitar riffs with country slide while pouring on some hard edged Texas Blues. When the lights go down Popa Chubby drops a match into his brew, step back-but pay attention. (borrowed from Blues Biographies).
From April 27th 1995: Popa is six foot, and 270 pounds “Yeah, I’m a big guy, but I think we get past that pretty quick”
About his release of Booty and the Beast cd, “What you’re hearing on that record is frustration, angst, sweat, fatigue, raw emotion. That’s what I was going for…I wanted to put something across that people could grab onto”
Popa working with Magic Slim: “Oh man,when I walked into the session I had no idea I was going to get the schooling of my life. Slim gave the blues back to me. Slim is one of those artist who comes across as being the coolest simply because he is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man sing or play the blues like this before and probably never will again”.
About his new cd called "The Good, the Bad and the Chubby" “This is my strongest effort to date, half of which was recorded after the dreadful attacks of 9/11/01. Needless to say, the result was an unbridled emotion and smoldering anger that are strongly reflected in the songs, vocals, and musicianship. This is as real as it ever has gotten for me and if that ain’t what the blues is all about, well slap my Ass and call me Shirley!"
We would like to Thank Popa Chubby, the band members, and Peter
(tour manager) for their tolerance, patience and support.