Sunday, January 6, 2019

Popa Chubby in Na Tick

Great friend Dave Keyes is always doing something, and this time it was accompanying the Popa Chubby Band at The Center For the Arts in Natick.  Great friend Barb got tickets for everyone: Al, Fud, Pam, Walter, Leslie, and me and Sarah.  Great friend EJ called me the day before and he made plans to meet us all for dinner at Dah Mee in the center of town.  Dave showed up too, as well as some other FODs.

It was a rainy, unseasonably warm early January night, and we all had a great dinner and lots of talking.  EJ bought the drinks and distributed Christmas presents.  By the time we got over to the theater the opener was on, but we all huddled in the lobby with some drinks and talked and talked some more, so never heard him/her.

Barb had bought most of the second row and we all filed in just as the band was about to start.  Dave was wearing a vintage Fine Lines t-shirt from the old band, and of course had a handsome jacket on over that and his trademark leather Scally cap.  Popa Chubby was looking like ... well, Popa Chubby, and he did not hesitate for longer than it took to mis-pronounce "Na Tick" and to get everyone's nerves on edge before he was blasting the blues on his beat-up old Strat.

He had a bass player and drummer, and they were a tight unit.  He usually plays as a trio but this time he had the ineffable Dave Keyes on electric piano, and that piano was sounding great.  Dave could get an edgy organ sound out of it as well as a bright piano sound, and everything in between.  And Popa Chubby seemed to be feeling it that night and was burning up the fret-board with a strong left hand.  He was not only limber and imaginative, he was incredible at bending notes and emoting ... he made that guitar squeal.  We'd seen him once before but as Walter said, that night he was pissed off at the sound guy.  This night everything was just exactly perfect and he was on fire.

He did a great Hendrix-y cover of Hey Joe (as opposed to a bluegrass-y or folk-y cover) early in the one, long set, did some of his best songs like Angel On My Shoulder and Sweet Goddess Of Love and Beer, a supremely-paced, lyrical cover of Same Old Blues (by Nix/Russell/Dunn), did a huge medley of Hey Bo Diddly/Who Do You Love/Not Fade Away, and later a great Stones medley of NYC Blues 1977 Till/Sympathy For the Devil.  And he encored with a beautiful and long Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

In between Dave sang a couple of songs and had a great duel with Popa Chubby, with Dave singing a measure and then Popa trying to out-do him with a measure of guitar.  Neither of them really had the advantage, though Popa could have probably kept it up until Dave's voice wore out!

We hung out and talked some more after the show, until suddenly we realized we were the only audience members left and better get going before they kicked us out.  One last picture and then goodbye to everyone (EJ had had to take off earlier).  Out into the Na Tick night to our car and a pretty quick drive back home.