"When people come to see me, most of them get it immediately," says Popa Chubby. This imposing singer/string-slinger might blast out a two-chord party-rock gale or sensually wring a sinuous Chicago-blues solo, but whatever magic he pulls out of his guitar, it's no trick - just the real deal from an artist who makes honesty 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 think I'm getting closer and closer." On Hit the High Hard One, recorded live over two explosive nights in Saratoga Springs, NY, Popa sets his sights on those peaks, and then puts the pedal to the metal.
"Music is a very magical but inexact science," says Chubby. "You have to pick these songs and performances at just the right time, when they're ripe, but before they go sour. I think we got this thing down at just the right time. It represents who I am and what I am better than anything that I've done in the past."
Born in the Bronx, raised in Queens, Popa cut his eyeteeth playing with Screaming Mad George and Disgusting. Later he played alongside legendary punk poet Richard Hell and Irish singer/songwriter Pierce Turner before moving out of the shadows to hold down centerstage.
In 1992 Popa won a nationwide talent contest sponsored by KLON, garnering Best New Artist honors and a slot at the 1992 Long Beach Blues Festival, where he opened for the likes of James Brown and Chuck Berry. From there, he hit the road, averaging 300-plus dates a year, and he also released two albums on his own Laughing Bear label, It's Chubby Time and Gas Money, both now available from Prime CD. Those two records captured a healthy dose of smoky, late-night atmosphere, perfectly packaged for folks unable to sate themselves on the live show alone.
In 1995, Chubby unleashed Booty and the Beast on the Okeh/Sony 550 label. Produced by Tom Dowd (Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers), Booty and the Beast sold 75,000 copies, yielded the hit "Sweet Goddess of Love and Beer", and hit the top 15 on CMJ's AAA chart and Billboard's blues chart.
The best place to go from there was up, so Popa stepped up to Hit the High Hard One. The album captures the electricity of Chubby live, a wild ride with driving momentum, intensity, an emotional edge and some surprising hairpin curves. "It's not the flavor of the month, and it's guaranteed to last," if Chubby does say so himself. So if you're looking for that real deal in some electric blues/rock guitar work, come to Popa.