Concert reviews: Ana Popovich at Mojo’s Kitchen, Jax Beach, FL 5/15/2013
The comely Ms. P graced the First Coast with a short-notice stopover on her way North from wildly received shows at the Nawlins Jazzfest and Tampa. Despite no publicity, the Mojo’s Kitchen gig was packed with Blues cogniscenti and leering old men – with new contributor Teri Jo and addled correspondent Nanker Phledge leading the respective categories – Editors
Teri Jo’s take:
Refugees from the Legendary Blues Cruise and grizzled blues aficionados gathered at Mojo Kitchen in Jacksonville Beach to worship at the altar of hit blues rocker Ana Popovic. Popovic, who hails from Serbia, but now lives in Memphis, channelled Duane Allman, Peggy Lee and Stevie Ray Vaughan in the tiny venue. Taking the stage in a killer red mini-dress and stiletto heels, Popovic blew the crowd away.
Popovic, who learned to appreciate the blues from her record-collecting father, was just off the stages at Tropical Heatwave in Tampa, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival when she dropped in to burn up the strings at Mojo Kitchen. Popovic played tunes from her new album, Can You Stand the Heat, which was recorded in Memphis, as well as numbers from her previous album Unconditional (you should check out the album cover).
” It’s a man’s world she’s in “, noted compared2what, as we sat with veteran observers Wild Billy, Earl B., and Teri Jo, ” there aren’t many women doing this”. The short list includes Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Joanne Shaw Taylor, and newcomers like Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor ( okay, she’s a bassist, but she’s out front), and 16-year-old Colorado prodigy Micheala Rae, all taking on the heavy mantle of Blues Guitar God(dess) with no clear model for survival, much less success, save the Little Redheaded Girl who made John Hiatt a Grammy-winning songwriter and put his own girls through college, to hear him tell it. Yet as Ana strode confidently onstage, grabbed her axe, and approached the mike, nobody was really concerned about gender, ethnicity, or age, but the simple query: Can she play?
Yousa, yousa, yousa!
Most of Ana’s material from the new CD, including ” Can You Stand the Heat?” and ” Object of Obsession” , leaned toward R and B , with some jazzy flavor, but she truly shined on blues classics, especially Albert King’s ” Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me ?”. Her time working with her ” slide guitar idol ” ( per her site ) Sonny Landreth has paid off handsomely, and no surprise; mere proximity to Landreth would improve slide playing through osmosis. Mutters of ” she looks like Duane Allman up there” and ” it’s like Stevie Ray came back pretty ” were overblown, and I swallowed a ” Child, please!”, but Ana is a serious talent on guitar, and a very competent vocalist. Springsteen once said that Southside Johnny was a guy he could listen to all night long. Ana’s voice is similarly agreeable and compelling, without blowing you out of your seat or spanning octaves. While the tight combo lineup, including bassist John Williams and drummer Tony Coleman, gave Ana a chance to shine for the many who’d never seen her, she would be a treat with her 9-piece Mo’ Better Love band that backed her at Jazzfest and will be jumping in on the European leg of her current tour.
And the recent Memphian made many fans by obliging nearly the entire house’s autograph, CD signing, and photo op requests during the break between sets, which became more intervention than intermission. With the Sandman beating me to School Night death, no choice but to blow her a kiss ( damn, she missed it!) and head back to the Unit. Harry, keep your eyes peeled for Ana; she’s worth checking out!
That would be me – Nanker