Ana Popovic | 06.17.08

prof_ana-popovic_sm.jpgThe disc was the latest in a series of career moves which Popovic hoped would enable her to smash boundaries and generate interest in the music without regard to categories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

at BB’s Blues, Jazz and Soups
Tuesday, June 17, 9:30 p.m.
Cover: $10

prof_ana-popovic.jpgSomehow it doesn’t seem adequate to call Ana Popovic a "blues musician." You can call her a Serbian firebrand, a singularly exciting singer/guitarist or a world-class musical phenom, and it conveys more than saying she’s a blues musician. That’s because Popovic is so diverse and so captivating in what she achieves on stage, namely a thrilling, powerhouse sound that combines blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and a dash of world music, delivered via a sultry, electrifying visual presentation. No woman in years has garnered the attention accorded to Popovic in the blues genre; she has responded by taking the form in daring new directions. Still Making History, her 2007 release, was aptly named in that regard, as Popovic earned plaudits and new fans in both Europe and the United States.

"A lot of great things happened with the record," said Popovic, reached by phone as she prepared for a new cross-country trek. "It really made me feel good because people were buying the record without me being on the road. They really accepted it."

Popovic made the cover of the U.K. publication Blues Matters last fall, and her album hung on the blues charts for 15 weeks. The disc was the latest in a series of career moves which Popovic hoped would enable her to smash boundaries and generate interest in the music without regard to categories.

"That was our idea from the start," she said. "People can see us do a Muddy Waters song and not realize they’re seeing the blues. We do a couple of standards, but we do really modern arrangements. People always come up to me and say they’re really taken by the music. It’s important nowadays to introduce as many people as possible to the blues."

Popovic does that with fiery guitar work that often evokes Hendrix and Clapton, a voice that’s equal parts heart and sensual bravado, and a truly killer band. Genre lines are literally erased as the band just turns up the heat and rocks madly, whether they’re doing an original tune or an old classic.

"The band is what makes a song special onstage," said Popovic. "The band and the groove. The audience can be good, but if there’s no energy onstage, nothing happens."

She called comparisons of her to Hendrix "ridiculous," even though most major stories on Popovic drop Hendrix’s name in there somewhere. The sizzling, uninhibited tone she gets on her axe surely accounts for some of that.

"There’s only one Hendrix; my style is not his. The only thing I love is that a lot of people recognize that kind of energy, so they respond to it. I’m very gratified that I get the opportunity to pick up the guitar and play with my band. It’s a very inspiring thing for me, being onstage. I love it."

Popovic has a new release coming soon, a disc of remixes from Still Making History plus a couple of new tunes. There’s another new production that is also taking quite a bit of her time:the birth of her first child, a son named Luuk. He could be heard interjecting his own commentary in the background during the interview. Popovic is taking the young’un on the road with her.

"I’ll be touring with a six-week-old baby," she said. "I have these two very diverse lifestyles. When I’m in Amsterdam [her current home], there are no concerts; it’s about my friends, my house, my boyfriend and going out dancing. When I go out on the road, I’m doing 150 shows a year in 100 countries. And when I have time I just try to write. I just always hope to play better, sing better and write better songs."

Popovic speaks a lot about "gratitude"—to her father for picking up a guitar and introducing it to her back in their homeland (he frequently goes on tour with her these days), to the American audiences that have embraced her, and to the increasing opportunities she’s had as the plaudits pour in and the word spreads.

"I feel a really special connection to America," she said. "I just love the fans. To have a passion for your work is something not everybody has, and it’s wonderful. I’m gratified that I get to do this." | Kevin Renick

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