Modern bluesman won’t disappoint
BEAVER CREEK – I must admit I have the tendency to shrug off modern-day electric-blues guitarists in light of the blues legends in the past several decades, but Popa Chubby showcases some serious blues chops that cannot be ignored on the CD/DVD release “Big Man Big Guitar Live.”
Chubby’s solid blues-voice acts as more of an anchor rather than the main feature, while his stunning guitar work stands out as the highlight. He pulls off some tremendous high-voltage blues licks, sounding natural and unhurried. Obviously influenced by classics like Hendrix and Jimmy Page, his playing is charged with his own creative twists, and it retains an original character. Clever chromaticism makes use of dissonance at times, creating a powerful, cutting edge that grabs the ear. Tasteful use of palm-muting through both arpeggios and melodic phrases sounds great as well. You can hear the muffled, understated tone in a solo on the “Hey Joe” cover, and it appears more prominently in the “How’d a White Boy Get The Blues” original. Stylish harmonics embellish a solo on Chubby’s “I Can’t See The Light Of Day.”Chubby covers some classic tunes on this album, but the songs are over half originals. His songwriting embraces the blues tradition, employing simple lyrics sung with a lot of emotion. Instrumentally, the originals are good. Although some fall into the vein of standard blues progressions, I love the album. The band creates a rock-solid musical springboard from which Chubby’s guitar rockets into the stratosphere.
The album also lets us see a more mellow and soulful side of Chubby. A few tracks sound like rock-ballads, slowing to a more heartfelt, introspective pace. After getting over some of the outrageous, torrential explosions of blues guitar, I ended up liking these songs more. They create a stronger emotional response, and Chubby’s voice stands out a bit more in these songs. “How’d A White Boy Get The Blues” is perhaps my favorite track. The laid back finger-picking sound and creative chord progression compliment Chubby’s voice to create a masterful original song. Listen to “Can’t See The Light Of Day” and “Hallelujah” to hear more of this side of the album.Popa Chubby plays for the final concert in the free concert series at Beaver Creek Saturday from 6-7:30 p.m. on the south lawn.
Pete Fowler is a freelance writer and can be reached at email@example.comVail Colorado
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