The one and only Popa Chubby, the big man of the blues, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his career this year, 1989 being the bull’s eye when the blues-rock guitarist blew like a hurricane across the tepid New York City blues scene with his own individual brand of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. True to form, Chubby is honoring the quarter-century mark of his career with a brand new album, I’m Feelin’ Lucky, which will be released on October 14th, 2014 by Cleopatra Records.
Produced by legendary producer Glyn Johns, the album was recorded to tape at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles and features Tench handling lead vocals, piano and organs, joined by a team of collaborators including a core band of Don Was, Ethan Johns, Blake Mills and Jeremy Stacey and contributions by Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Joel Jerome, Tom Petty and Ringo Starr. As a Heartbreaker and on his own, Benmont Tench defines a supporting musician: versatile, tasteful, and distinctive; enhancing sessions without overwhelming the leader. He's so thoroughly part of a group that it's hard to picture him stepping to the center of the stage, but You Should Be So Lucky – his 2014 solo debut, released roughly 38 years after the first Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album – shows he's an appealingly ragged and relaxed frontman and one who knows not to abandon his core strengths.
Here Lucky goes to Memphis. Several years into a solo career, the former blues whiz kid plays good keyboards and guitar, and sings stirringly on originals and covers from all over the black music map (Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, blues piano master Roosevelt Sykes, etc.) His modern soul-cum-blues is hot, sweaty, and aggressive, and he gets the job done in busy arrangements shared with the Memphis Horns, honey-throated back-up singers, and muscular hired guns like bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Crusher Green. Peterson had the good sense to collaborate with New Yorker Jim Payne when writing five songs for the album, including the killer slow blues instrumental that doubles as the album title.