Here’s what Papa Chubby had to say about his early life on his website…
If there’s one thing I want people to know about me, its that I’m a survivor, says Popa Chubby. Heres my story: My dad died when I was seven. I was abandoned and raised myself. I moved to New York City when I was 18 and started playing music. I got a huge heroin habit and ended up strung out on the streets until I was in my early twenties. I started playing again and got away from drugs and never went back, and then I got into the New York blues scene of the early 90s, and here I am today.
They say “if you want to play the blues you’ve gotta pay your dues.” I think Papa has earned his right to play the blues… any way he wants.
I caught his act at the Suncoast Blues Society’s Christmas Party at Skipper’s Smokehouse on 12/15/12. Great show! The guy and his band really put out.
I usually don’t go for 3-piece bands. Not enough going on to hold my interest usually. But Papa kept me interested. He had a tight band that played well together and no one over-played or turned the songs into “ego-fests”… that is except for Papa himself. He stretched and pushed and had plenty of dynamics to keep things interesting. But always had a nice touch. This is “rockin-blues” done right.
One thing I noticed he did very well…
When he played a slow blues and was moving from leads to rhythm parts, he managed to be loud enough for the leads but came down quickly for the chords and background parts. That takes a great touch with your guitar to be able to do that. I put that song and video first so you can see what I mean.
He had well-known northeast blues lady Kirsten Thein sit in on a song too. She added a nice balsy-blues-woman balance to his macho blues personna. Learn more about her on her website here.
Papa hails from New York City and he comes off as a real New Yorker with all the bluster and “in-your-face” charisma implied by the stereotype. It works for him.
He played in punk bands early in his career and he has that same “take-no-prisoners” attitude that I bet Howlin Wolf, Little Walter, and Muddy Waters had back in their heydays. Like he says… “the blues should be dangerous.” This is one bad-ass-blues-mother.
And his stage banter is very entertaining. He pulls you in without kissing your ass.
Watch the videos to see what I mean.
To learn more about Papa Chubby visit his website here.