Review : Poppa Chubby – Southport

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 1, 2006

Popa Chubby at Southport Art Centre, Saturday 24th June 2006

Blues fans in the North West of England cannot fail to be grateful to Jake Roney of the Southport Arts Centre for his continuing support of live performances by high calibre blues artistes. Following appearances by Joe Bonamassa and Sharrie Williams this year, the latest and very welcome visitor was the larger than life New Yorker, Ted Horowitz, better known as Popa Chubby. Unsurprisingly, in view of the rarity of his performing in the UK, the Arts Centre Studio was packed to the gunnels.

Backed by a marvellous young rhythm section from New York State, Horowitz delivered a tremendous, non-stop programme of blues and rock music that lasted almost two and a half hours. He opened with Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”, spiced with a generous helping of blistering guitar work, followed by a gritty rendition of “The Same Old Blues”. Shuffles combined with boogie-woogie, heavy rockers and a relentlessly driving rockabilly instrumental (“Buffalo Chips”), which gave drummer Chris Roddan the opportunity to display his considerable ability. In contrast, there was a love song “Why I Can’t Have You”, to show the big man’s sensitive side. There was also a fast, jazzy instrumental played at breakneck speed that featured a brilliant, cameo performance from bass guitarist, AJ Pappas.

The first two hours of the show comprised only thirteen numbers, as each offering was developed into an extended feast. The final twenty minutes, on the other hand, delivered a five-song encore that included “Dust My Broom” and a terrific a capella version of Jessie Mae Hemphill’s “In This World”. Popa Chubby is an excellent guitarist and a fine singer with a personality that matches his considerable physical dimensions. With that and the rarity of his UK appearances in mind, rare treats like this are certainly not to be missed. Keep a lookout for the next one.

Lionel Ross

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