by Sam Spence
Blues may course through Popa Chubby’s veins, but it passes through a rock ’n’ roll heart. Born Ted Horowitz, the son of a Bronx candy store owner, Chubby backed punk-poet Richard Hell in the late ’70s and early ’80s while honing his chops. He then formed his own band in 1990 and edged out Keb Mo in a national blues talent contest in 1993 and earned a record deal shortly thereafter. Ever since, Chubby has released a dozen studio albums while touring steadily. Over that time he’s wandered widely from his early Stevie Ray and Jimi-isms to incorporating jazzier elements (2002’s The Good, the Bad, and the Chubby), politics (2004’s Peace, Love, and Respect), and hard rock chug (2010’s fine The Fight Is On, with its sizzling cover of “Ace of Spades”). While Chubby’s tastes remain all over the place, he’s still a striking guitarist with great respect for blues traditions from the Delta to Chicago to Electric Ladyland.
—Chris Parker TUESDAY
Following a stint in the City of Angels, Angela Easterling is back home where she belongs. “We always go out and explore, and we always come back,” the Greenville native says. On her second record Black Top Road (2009), this Upstate folky focused on the difficulties of farm life and the plight of families struggling through the bad times, from “A.P. Carter’s Blues” (which was inspired by a trip to a grave) to “Stars Over the Prairie” (a cover of a song written by her great-grandfather). But while many of her songs are on the somber side, there’s more than a little bit of feistiness in her, like on the disc’s title track. Meanwhile, Easterling’s 2011 release Beguiler is a bit more upbeat, a fact that is especially evident on “Happy Song,” in which she says she’s got “no time for the blues.” In 2012, Easterling’s musical direction took a strange and welcome turn when she released a French-language LP, Mon Secret. And let us tell you, she sings French beautifully. —Katie Kimsey WEDNESDAY
One-man band and loop-pedal disciple Keller Williams returns to the Holy City this weekend for a two-night stand at the Pour House. Over the years, Williams, or K-Dub as some folks have taken to calling him, has perfected the art of sounding like he’s got a full backing band behind him thanks to his collection of high-tech gear, and he’s won the eternal adoration of the jam band set for his efforts. But Williams doesn’t always go at it alone. He recently teamed up with a couple of bluegrassers in the Del McCoury Band for the Travelin’ McCourys, and lately he’s been pursuing a shake-your-groove-thing side project with a band called More Than a Little. (Check out their YouTube clip for “I Told You I Was Freaky” to see McCoury and company get funky.) Williams will perform two sets each night at the Pour House. The first will feature K-Dub doing his looping best, while the second will feature his funky mates in More Than a Little. —Katie Kimsey FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
Tito Quinones, the lead singer for Virginia-based Saint Diablo, knows the secret to happiness. It’s a little drink he calls “a smiley face on the rocks.” “It’s what I imagine ‘happy people’ must drink every day that allows them to remain so ‘happy,’” Quinones says. “Smiley Face on the Rocks” is one of the standout tracks on Saint Diablo’s recently released self-titled long-player, a hard-hitting collection that mixes liberal doses of System of a Down and Pantera, with a little bit of Latin flavor and a wee bit of Mike Patton. “I always let the audience know that I am jealous of those that can stay positive in a world full of so much hurt.” And Quinones and company know plenty about hurt. They play a bruising 200-something shows a year. Currently, Saint Diablo is working on a Spanish-language remix of their self-titled disc. “We have always been a gumbo of sounds that are laced with bilingual messages,” Quinones says. “I grew up listening to both Spanish and English music, so to me I can’t imagine not doing both all the time.” —Chris Haire SATURDAY