Popa Chubby Live at the Bull Run

The Bull Run is a long-standing (mostly) blues club way out in small-town Massachusetts. Have to go there or New Hampshire as the city of Boston – which is actually a fairly cosmopolitan city – has largely abandoned it. They have a House of Blues there which NEVER HAS BLUES BANDS.  

Popa Chubby pops up on the B.B. King blues channel with some regularity. I think some of you may have posted about him as well. My friend Gary – drummer turned bass player – and I were looking to see a show together.

He had seen the Chubmeister a number of times, highly recommended him and so we decided to go for it.

This show was originally scheduled for 3 or 4 weeks ago. However, we drove out to the place and found out that the show had been canceled due to Chubaroni’s 3rd (!) bout with COVID. He’s a big guy and perhaps not in the greatest overall health.

The proprietor felt bad that we had driven for like, an hour and had not gotten the message. So she treated us to a few drinks on the house. I didn’t bother telling her that I checked my voice mail later and sure enough they had told us in plenty of time. Hey, a couple of free beers won’t kill anybody and the way I look at it, nobody got hurt.

From his website: “Popa Chubby, born Ted Horowitz, has been hard rocking the blues in his fierce and soulful way for more than 30 years. Over the course of a career that dates back to 1994, he has been a force of to be reckoned with on the guitar, and his tempestuous, soulful playing has never been more powerful.

An imposing figure with a shaven head, tattooed arms, a goatee and a performance style he describes as “the Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motörhead meets Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson,” Popa Chubby is an endearing character who is one of the genre’s most popular figures.”

Popa is a bluesman to the max and he has a crackerjack four-piece band. Chubby’s current band lineup includes Stefano Giudici (drums), Max Barrett (bass), Dave Keyes (keyboards), as well as a recurring cast of musicians.He plays sitting down because, well, he’s big. Somebody offered him pizza, but he’s not allowed to eat it. He is a tremendous and very versatile guitarist but it’s clear his meat and potatoes are the blooze.

RANT – While I love the fact that guys like Chubby connect well with the audience, I’ve noticed this trend in performers lately to stop after every song, tell us how much they love the audience and how music is so wonderful and what’s so funny about peace love and understanding. I don’t know if it’s because these guys are older or because they’re so happy to not be stuck in the house. Say it once guys, then move on.

Here’s “Hey Joe.” Note that I didn’t feel like filming anything, so I found representative clips online.

What I like about Chubby’s playing is not only his virtuosity but his variety. A 10-minute solo can get boring. But he keeps things interesting throughout his solos by using single-notes, chords, arpeggios, wah-wah. Even if you don’t know what half that shit is, it doesn’t matter as he’s holding your interest.

Here’s a cool tune he played as a popular request. It’s called “I Can’t See the Light of Day.:

I mentioned in a previous post that I had recently seen an act that mentioned the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. It was Popa. He said that Leon Russell and Joe Cocker “hated” each other but that wasn’t exactly the case.

He also said that Gregg Allman was one of the greatest singers we’ve ever had prior to singing “Going Down Slow.” (It’s on the Duane Allman anthology).  I applauded heartily when I heard that. Amen, y’all.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that tune “live” so I’ll go with something else. Here’s “Caffeine and Nicotine.” (After women, there’s nothing blues guys like to sing about more than booze, drugs and cigs).

Lastly, Chubby mentioned Jeff Beck’s untimely passing and said what everybody else says which is that he is a guitarist’s guitarist. Again, I all but stood up on the table and applauded as did maybe half the people there. C’mon, folks! You’re old like me. You know who the fuck Jeff Beck is. Give it up!

Anyway, for his last tune, El Popa McChubinsky did his owntake on Jeff’s version of “Over the Rainbow” which you should go find at some point. He confessed that he didn’t have Jeff’s touch on this but then, who does.

This was a great way to end the show. Popa is such a great guitarist that I realized what a fool I’ve been and immediately nuked all my guitars, amps and everything. C’est la vie!

 

11 thoughts on “Popa Chubby Live at the Bull Run

  1. Sounds like a great show to watch, especially at a smaller venue like a blues club – I’d be game for that!

    I had known of Popa Chubby because of my brother-in-law who had brought him to my attention in August 2020. It prompted me to post the title track from what was then his most recent album “It’s a Mighty Hard Road.” And then, as sadly happens time and again, I pretty much forgot about him and was on to something else!

    I do like his sound. And that heavily worn Fender Strat would make Rory Gallagher proud!

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    1. I often forget stuff and then am on to something else. I look back at my posts and forget half the stuff I’ve written about. Highly recommend Popa when you get a chance.

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      1. Thanks, Jim, he definitely looks worthwhile seeing!

        My concert-going is off to a slow start this year. I guess with everything having gotten more expensive, I’m more skiddish about spending money.

        Doling out $400-plus to see Springsteen isn’t going to happen, as much as I dig him. Right now I also feel less inclined to see bands or artists I’ve seen before, and I’ve seen Springsteen twice.

        But who knows. I hate to admit that at times I can be impulsive. Deciding which concerts to see isn’t fully rational.

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        1. This looks like a very good range to me. Depending on the artist, I’d consider anything up to $100-150. For the latter, it would need to be an A-list act. I’m just done with paying $200+!

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  2. Passing acquaintance with Chubby. Got some grease to him which I like. These guys are club players and I say that with all the respect in the world. Dues and more dues. Know how to play the crowd. Can change directions on a dime. You dont learn this at home. Road warriors. I quit going to big venues long ago. Ive had free tickets offered and I pass. If I venture out it’s to places like this unless it’s a special occasion like one of my gang. Later.

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    1. Yeah, we’ve talked about the road warriors before. Popa was busting the keyboard player’s balls over some private joke.and he said, “Hey, when you’re on the road, you gotta find some diversions.” You’ll be happy to know that it’s not all disc jockeys and streaming and dance music chick singers. The road warriors are out there, and I got a couple more on tap. Including one big one.

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