On Stage: Popa Chubby comes to Kennett Sq.

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Popa Chubby

Get ready to rock out, Kennett Square.

On March 1, Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will host a show by Popa Chubby, one of America’s modern-day blues-rock/blues masters. Popa Chubby plays between 180 and 200 shows each year and his shows this weekend will be the last stateside shows prior to a large European tour.

“We’re just getting ready for sound check for our show tonight at The Iridium,” said Popa Chubby, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “We’re doing a tribute show to The Who and Black Sabbath.

“Then, we have the show at Kennett Flash Friday and a show Saturday in Maryland. After that, we head to Europe. I just did a big tour there in November. I play Europe about three times a year.”

After his gig at The Soundry in Columbia, Maryland, Popa Chubby’s next concert will be March 7 at Freddy’s Bar in Frederikshavn, Denmark.

“We’re doing a month-long tour of Europe,” said Popa Chubby. “The final show will be March 31 at Bataclan in Paris – on my 59th birthday.”

The veteran rocker just released a new album — “Prime Cuts – The Very Best of the Beast from the East.”

With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Popa Chubby has delivered a hand-picked anthology of 15 tracks from his prolific and ever-expanding catalogue. “Prime Cuts” reflects Popa’s choice of the best of his best — tracks that keep the Chubby legacy fresh and the fans happy.

“I went all the way back and picked the best stuff from my last 38 records,” said Popa Chubby, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“There were two criteria. First, I had to really like the song. Second, it had to be music the fans request. A lot of it was easy. A a lot came down to the fans – ‘Sweet Goddess of Love and Beer,’ ‘Angel on My Shoulder,’ ‘Light of Day’ – give the people what they want.

“They were all original album tracks, but some were alternate mixes. I did a lot of re-mastering. There were also two new tracks – and a Christmas song. It took a couple months to put it all together. It just came out at the end of November.”

Popa Chubby’s last two studio albums were “The Catfish” in 2016 and “Two Dogs” in 2017.

“I never stop recording,” said Popa Chubby. “I recorded ‘Two Dogs’ right after I finished making ‘The Catfish.’ I’m working on my next album now. This is the time of year when I’m home and can get recording work done.

“I have a studio in my home. For D.I.Y. stuff, I use ProTools. My studio is filled with vintage stuff – RCA mics, old compressors and vintage guitars and drums.

“I have a background in recording. I worked as an engineer and I started out working with tape. It’s all digital now — but I have an analog way of getting in and an analog way of getting out.

“When I was working with Tom Dowd, a legendary engineer, he was so happy to go to digital instead of tape. He explained that each time the tape goes over the (recording) head, it loses particles.”

Finding time to get in the studio is a luxury for Popa Chubby.

“I’m never home,” said Popa Chubby. “It seems that I’m always touring a lot. The progression of my career has been slow and steady. I like to give people real music. The best music for me comes from not making music. It comes from me jamming with myself.”

Video link for Popa Chubby — https://youtu.be/r3ledCIoXH8.

The show at Kennett Flash will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Other upcoming shows at Kennett Flash are “Chicago 9 — A Tribute to Chicago” on March 2 and Open Mic with guest host Michael Hahn on March 3.

Cary Morin

Cary Morin is a well-travelled musician.

A Crow tribal member who was born in Billings, Montana, Morin spent the majority of his younger years in Great Falls, where he cut his teeth picking guitar standards at neighborhood get-togethers, before relocating to Northern Colorado. There, his musical career hit the ground running with The Atoll, a band he founded in 1989 that toured nationally, gaining a devoted following.

Morin then achieved international acclaim with The Pura Fé Trio, for whom the single “Ole Midlife Crisis,” which Morin wrote and performed with Pura Fé, placed at number 17 on France’s iTunes blues chart. With The Atoll and The Pura Fé Trio, and as a solo artist, Morin has played celebrated venues across the globe, including Paris Jazz Festival, Winter Park Jazz Festival, Folk Alliance International, River People Festival, Shakori Hill Festival, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and most recently Rochefort En Accords festival in France and The Copenhagen Blues Festival.

The final week of February 2019 has brought Morin to Pennsylvania. After performing at a blues festival in Lancaster last weekend, Morin is set to co-headline a show on February 28 at The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com).

Morin is touring in support of his new album, “When I Rise,” which was released via Maple Street Music. Morin’s sixth release, “When I Rise”, follows close on the heels of an international tour that spanned the U.S. and reached as far as Italy, France, and Germany.

For the Colorado recording sessions, Morin (guitars, pedal steel guitar, vocals) enjoyed a cast of all-star musicians that complemented what he created — Steve Amedée – drums, percussion; Paul Benjaman – electric guitar; Jay Forrest – drums, percussion; Jason Larson – vocals, piano, bass guitar) Dexter Payne – clarinet and harmonica; Kim Stone – acoustic and electric bass); Andy Weyl – piano; Lionel Young – violin; and his wife Celeste Di Iorio – vocals.  “When I Rise” was produced by Stone, Di Iorio and Larson.

“This tour is a solo tour,” said Morin, during a phone interview Sunday from a tour stop in Lancaster. “It’s economically easier to get around with a solo tour. I’m on the road now with my wife and dog in an RV.”

Music has always been a major part of Morin’s life.

“There was music in my family,” said Morin. “Everybody loved to play and sing. I started doing it as a child. I began with piano and got a decent understanding of theory. Piano is a good start. I moved to Colorado after high school initially to play ski areas and that progressed. Now, I’m in my fifties and I’m still doing it – still playing music.

“When I was growing up, my folks loved country music. My oldest brother was a rock and folk fan. I grew up in somewhat rural area in Montana, so we didn’t have cable. We didn’t have anything like that. Sometimes in town, when I shopped for records, I’d just look at the album covers. I’d pick something that looked interesting by its cover.”

And, there was always radio.

“I grew up in Montana in the 1970s,” said Morin. “As a child, I would listen to whatever was on radio or vinyl that my folks or my brothers had. Somehow the very first song that I played and sang on piano when I was in the first grade was a Chubby Checker song – ‘Blueberry Hill’ by Chubby Checker. That was the first song I played on piano and sang. I also listened to Elton John. For whatever reason, I could play by ear pretty well on piano.

“Then, I started guitar and I could play that really easily. Finger-picking caught my interest. I really liked James Taylor and Neal Young – and When I was pretty young, I also found a Doug Kershaw album and that made me want to play the fiddle. My folks found me a used one in the newspaper. I really became a fan of Cajun fiddle music. I didn’t know about Louisiana and Cajon – about rock and jazz from New Orleans. When I discovered it, I pursued that stuff by ear on fiddle.”

Morin’s music world opened up even more when he got to Colorado.

“I was exposed to a lot of different styles of music in Colorado,” said Morin. “I got into world music and jazz. I bought every George Benson album I could find. I got into reggae too. The first reggae album I got was ‘Babylon By Bus’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

“Another artist who I loved was Ali Farka Toure whose melodic guitar playing still influences my music. I really love that melodic-based finger-style African guitar. When I was in Colorado, I played in dance bands in ski areas. If a song didn’t work on the dance floor, I’d abandon it.”

Morin’s stage credits also include “Tribe” at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, and co-authorship of “Turtle Island,” a 50-member production that played two consecutive years to sold-out audiences in Northern Colorado. With the Red Willow Dancers, he was a guest of the internationally renowned Kodo Drummers, performing at their 1998 Spring Festival and additional dates in Japan.

Morin has produced or performed on over 18 recordings, and has toured across the US, as well as Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and the UK. Morin’s performances have reached millions on national TV in Japan, France, and the UK, as well as on national radio in the US (NPR’s Beale Street Caravan), UK (BBC’s Whose London), France (RFI), Switzerland, and Belgium.

“I wrote a stage play called ‘Turtle Island’ in 2000,” said Morin. “It was a play that involved music heavily. From that point on, I got more serious about songwriting. I do my writing on acoustic guitar. When I play solo, it’s just acoustic guitar – no effects.”

Video link for Cary Morin – https://youtu.be/PRNby1yNMO0.

The show at The Locks at Sona is a co-bill featuring Rebecca Loebe and Morin. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $20.

Other upcoming shows at The Locks at Sona are Town Mountain and The Bumper Jacksons (duo) on March 1, Christine Havrilla & Gypsy Fuzz on March 2 and Oginalii and Hello June on March 5.

JP Saxe

On March 1, Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) will host a tasty twin-bill featuring JP Saxe as the opener and Shaed as the headline act.

Born in Toronto and now a resident of Los Angeles, Saxe is a combination of singer/songwriter and a soul crooner who specializes in his own blend of pop and R&B.

Saxe has been surrounded by music his entire life. His grandfather Janos Starker, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, is a Grammy award-winning cellist. Saxe learned cello at a young age from his grandfather’s master classes taught at the Jacob School of Music at Indiana University. At just 14 years old, Saxe realized his calling was to be a performer.

“My grandfather was a huge influence – musically and philosophically,” said Saxe, during a phone interview last week from his home in North Hollywood. “Other musical influences were Keith Jarrett and Oscar Peterson.

Saxe initially studied the cello as a teenager. Later, after discovering jazz and R&B, he switched to the piano and guitar. More importantly, he began writing his own songs and soon was performing weekly in Toronto and posting his songs online.

“I was 19 when I moved to L.A.,” said Saxe. “I had been living in King City, which is about an hour outside Toronto. By moving west, I saw the opportunity for me to make music with more support in L.A.

“It was four years until I made my first single. I was working as an artist for a year-and-a-half. In an effort to stay in music, I started working as a songwriter. In 2017, I knew that what makes me happiest is making music.”

In 2017 Saxe released his debut single, “Changed,” followed by “Anybody Else” the same year. He released the single “The Few Things” in 2018.  His latest single is “Both Can Be True: Part 1.”

“I’ve released five singles so far,” said Saxe. “I like my songs too much not to give them to people one at a time. An LP could go all the way. I’m writing all the time. I’m lyric-obsessed. It’s an internal drive.

“At this point, I have a lot of songs written and recorded that I really love. I could put an album out now, but I want to be able to give these songs their best shot.

“For right now, I’m just touring – just me and my guitar and keyboards. I just got off a 20-day run with Harry Hudson and next is this tour. Then, I’ll be in Toronto for a while and, after that, back to the states. Working with other artists has always appealed to me

Video link for JP Saxe – https://youtu.be/2zEunEHTc9Y.

The show at Boot and Saddle, which has Shaed as the headliner, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $18.

Other upcoming shows at Boot and Saddle are Dry Reef and Thomas And The Work-Men on February 28, Lowlight, Morning River Band, and Driftwood Soldier on March 2, Miya Folick and Barrie on March 3 and Mike Krol, Wildflowers Of America, and TVO on March  6.

There are times that a long story is really a long story – or, in this case, a “Long” story.

Bobby Long

The story of Bobby Long as a singer spans 15 years – which is a long time considering the span covers almost half his life. He turned 33 last September.

“I’m one of the veteran people in the industry,” said Long, during a recent phone interview from his home in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“I’m proud of myself because I lasted so long.”

Long, who headlines a show at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com) on March 2,

 is a talented singer-songwriter-guitarist from England who gained international recognition based on a song he wrote called “Let Me Sign.” The song was sung by his friend Robert Pattinson, who stars in the hit movie “Twilight” and was included on the film soundtrack – an album that debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and has remained on the chart for over six months.

“Robert and I met when we were both playing gigs around London,” said Long, during a phone interview Monday morning. “We got to be friends. We never played together on stage, but we would listen to each other’s sets.

“I had never recorded the song or even played it live. I played it for him, and he liked it. He took it and played it over some other people, and they liked it too. Then, I got phone call from L.A. saying they wanted to use my song in the movie.”

Long just finished making his 10th record. His new album “Sultans,” will be released via Compass Records on March 1.

“Making the ‘Sultans’ album took a long time because we dragged it out,” said Long. “I wanted to give it some breathing room. Half of it was done in 2017 and the other half in 2018. There were only 10 real days on intensive work in the studio. We’d get together and rehearse and ten go into the studio. We recorded it in Brooklyn at Dave Lindsay’s Country Club Studio. It was a nice little studio that had all we needed. We also did some overdubs in Nashville. It was mostly digital for easiness– but there was some analog.”

“Sultans” was produced by multi-instrumentalist Jack Dawson with whom Long had collaborated and toured with on his 2012 EP, “The Backing Singer.” “Sultans” was recorded over a one-year period in a studio in Brooklyn. With Long on guitar, Dawson also played bass on the tracks while studio engineer Dave Lindsay played drums.

According to Long, “Jack and I have a shared love of so much music, and we would talk endlessly about records we love. Jack, like myself, is a feel guy so we were never too picky about tone or instruments. The album is basically a reflection of our friendship and love of songs.

“Jack really added his own colors and personality to the album, and it’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. Of course, I always feel that the new one is the best one, but I feel pretty strongly about this one. I really love creating and writing. It feels as magical today as it did when I was a child.”

The recording sessions went very smoothly.

“We formed this weird bond,” said Long. “I’d bring a song in and we’d rehearse and record at the same time. Usually, when you’re in the studio and are paying for time, you don’t have the luxury of taking your time.

“The songs were written ahead of time. On half the songs, I wrote all the parts and did everything. It was surprising. The group actually played what was on the demo. It matched what was in my head. It felt like I was playing through them.

“The thing that held them together was that I wrote all the songs at the same time.  There were hard times. I had lost a few people. But there were also good times. Songs represent an idea and they’re all part of the same family.

“Also, my impending fatherhood influenced the songwriting. I felt like he was always on my mind when I was writing. His name is River and he was a baby in the studio with me when I was doing some vocals.”

Longs love of The Beatles is evident on the new album. The two-part title track that bookends the album playfully pays homage to Sgt. Pepper and the musicLong heard at home growing up in rural southwest England.

“Part of me connects back to England,” said Long. “I was born in northern England – in Wigan. My favorite football teams are the Wigan Warriors and Manchester United.”

Video link for Bobby Long – https://youtu.be/VR9n-rMaizA.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13.

Zoso on February 28, Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes on March 1, Big Head Todd and the Monsters on March 3, Cass McCombs on March 5 and Madeleine Peyroux on March 6.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host Northern Lights, Empty Bottles and Victor Axel on March 2.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present “Mike Doughty Plays Soul Coughing’s “Ruby Vroom” – 25th Anniversary” with special guest Wheatus on February 28, Splintered Sunlight with special guest Dirty Grass Players on March 1, JoJo Herman on March 2, and Grateful Shred with special guest Garcia Peoples on March 3.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Travis Greene & Mosaic MSC on February 28, Dead On Live on March 1, “Calling All Divas” on March 2, Alan Parsons on March 3 and The Monkees on March 6.

Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, https://annenbergcenter.org/events) will present the Dance Theatre of Harlem on March 1 and 2.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) hosts Marshall Crenshaw & The Bottle Rockets on February 28, Bob Schneider with the The Empty Pockets on March 1, Tom Paxton & The Don Juans on March 2, The Sweet Remains with No Good Sister on March 3, Phil Keaggy, Tony Levin & Jerry Marotta with Flav Martin on March 5, and Y&T on March 6.

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