It's been a tough year for folks locally, regionally and nationally, so for many, the holidays offer a welcome respite from not only the day-to-day grind, but all of the tragic events that have unfolded far too often throughout 2012 on the pages of this newspaper and our television screens.
In the days that preceded last week's horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the music industry banded together for the 12-12-12 concert at Madison Square Garden to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
And while he didn't perform there, blues singer/songwriter Popa Chubby was born and raised in The Bronx and felt the impact first-hand.
Chubby, who performs at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, N.H., on Dec. 28, said, "The storm hit as I sat in my Hudson Valley home. Shortly after, power went down and the walls began to shake from wind and rain. Sometimes, you just got to wait out the storm. The next day, I found out my studio in lower Manhattan had been completely flooded and all the gear destroyed. New York City was down, but not out."
That last message, which he shared with me prior to the 12-12-12 benefit, is one you heard countless times during the six-plus-hour concert.
And while we, as a society, are down right now, we're certainly not out of it, but you can get out and see this blues workhorse next week. It's a nice change-of-pace from the holiday hustle and can give you some time to clear your head from the family frenzy.
You'll hear an artist who grew up listening to the Rolling Stones and picked up a guitar in the early 1970s. His early influences include Jimi Hendrix and Cream, but he moved to the blues in his early 20s. He won a national blues talent search on a Long Beach, Calif., radio station and earned the opening act slot at the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1992.
Chances are, if you listened to music in the 1990s, you either heard his name (Popa Chubby is a great stage name) or saw him perform live. He played more than 200 club dates a year through the 1990s.
One of the things that differentiates Chubby from his blues peers is the fact that most of his music is original. He's remained a viable force on the live music scene and continues writing and recording new albums, including last year's Back to New York City.
Popa Chubby plays at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, N.H., on Friday, Dec. 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.tupelohall.com.
- -- Next week is our annual year-in-review column so, once again, I'd like to take a moment to ask loyal Nightlife readers to share with me their favorite concerts from the past 12 months. Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the artist(s) you saw, when and where you saw them, and what you liked most about the show. Were there any unusual moments? Any songs not usually played live? Several encores? Just let me know and your thoughts may be included in next week's column.
Ed Hannan can be reached at email@example.com or through his For the Record blog at blogs.lowellsun.com/fortherecord. You can also follow him on Twitter @SunFTRblog or like our For the Record blog page on Facebook.