23 January 2020
Theodore Joseph Horowitz is getting married on Valentine’s Day at a gig in his home city of New York, but before that he is touring the UK as his altered ego the larger than life Popa Chubby. Tonight, that tour started at the legendary The 100 Club as part of the London January Blues festival.
The two band support started with The Blues against Youth, tonight a solo project by Italian Gianni Tbay, who strummed, picked, slid (or slided) stomped and kicked his way through tracks from his four LPs including Hey crazy mama off his newest release Evil Flatmates. Never has a native Italian played country blues this well, the bar had been raised and I will not be at all surprised if the name Gianni Tbay is a household name in the future, especially across the Atlantic where his type of bluegrass country blues will be lapped up.
[The Blues Against Youth]
Ron Sayer (jr)Trio upped the volume and the blues was back in the house, Sayer is a consummate musician, a music teacher and muse to young guns of British blues like Oli Brown. His battered Strat sang and screamed, Sayer pulled faces, shapes and played the stage as if it was his home from home. All three players were tight and proficient at their craft which was evident in the excellent Tell me something I don’t know and the slower yet sublime I’m leaving unless you stay. Ron Sayer should be up there with the likes of Beck and Bonamassa. He is that good.
[Ron Sayer Jrn]
Popa Chubby flew in from NYC in the morning and although sleep deprived turned up the amplification again and played another magnificent set covering his entire 30 year back catalogue including tracks from his February UK release Its A mighty hard road. Sitting stage right with his loved yet assaulted 1966 Stratocaster named The Devils guitar Chubby smashed and rocked his way through the setlist. His band, Tom Curiano (drums) and Paul Loranger (bass) kept the beat, but the focal point was the larger than life guitarist/vocalist. In an interview prior he talked about his love of the English rock bands like Sabbath and our favourite, Motorhead, which all stemmed from the basic thread of blues, which from his punk playing beginnings have honed into the raw blues machine that is todays Chubby. The hard vocals and at times aggressive playing was balanced by the smooth and at some point, beautiful versions of Hey Joe and the set opener Rollin’ and Tumblin but the cream of the crop was the magnificent and at time beautiful Grown man crying blues.
As another successful London January Blues festival comes to a close there will be little than can match the visual presence and musicality of Mr Horowitz aka Popa Chubby.