Blues guitarist Ana Popović ready to wield her ‘Power’ at Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club

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Ana Popović ready to rock Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club on April 23.

PORTSMOUTH, NH – Ever since she started her solo career in the late ‘90s, Ana Popović has been one of the premiere blues guitarists when it comes to the modern state of the art form. The Serbian native from Belgrade isn’t the type who puts herself into an artistic box either while consistently pushing boundaries and trying out different ideas along with maintaining a cohesive sonic foundation.

She’s dealt with a lot over the past few years due to battling breast cancer, but Popović has been back on the road with her band and electrifying audiences wherever she performs. On April 23 at Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club in Portsmouth, folks will get to experience this and a whole lot more. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and it promises to be a great way to spend a Tuesday evening while not having to be out too late on a weeknight. 

We had a talk ahead of the show about dealing with her illness while making her most recent album, growing up in a musical and artistic environment and always working on new songs.

Grab yourself a few tickets with the link below.


IF YOU GO

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Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club

135 Congress St, Portsmouth, NH 03801


Rob Duguay: Your latest album “Power” that came out back in May was made during some stressful times for yourself due to battling breast cancer and having chemotherapy treatments both in Los Angeles and in Amsterdam. How were you able to focus on the songwriting and recording process while dealing with such a serious illness? Were you using your musical abilities as a sort of mental release from what was going on while taking it one day at a time or did you handle it in a different way?

Ana Popovic: I basically started making music after I shared the news with my bassist Buthel Burns and we kind of took it one day at a time. I just wanted to see how far I could go, but as I did that, I realized that it was actually working amazingly in my case. I don’t wish anyone to ever know what the feeling is like, you wake up sometimes with dark thoughts and you’re unsure about the future. Whenever that would happen, I would turn back to music, turn back to making the album and all my worries would miraculously disappear. I just kept pushing, it gave me such a good feeling and there’s no pity party songs, there’s a lot of joyful moments with me approaching it as if it was the last record I was ever going to make. 

That’s really what’s on “Power”, every song is really a celebration of life and the fact that I’ve been able to be a musician for such a long time. This is the only job I’ve ever had and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, I still enjoy it and I’m still very inspired. That record gave me what the title says, it gave me a lot of power to get through it, it was recorded in between 14 chemotherapy treatments and it was recorded all over the world. During that time, we were also trying to play shows. No matter who wanted us, if they were socially distanced or whatever, we would drive to these shows and play them, so we kept playing and we kept recording. 

We were re-recording songs and I gave myself time, I didn’t rush anything when it came to that. I would re-record a drum part or re-record a bass part or re-record vocals and in that what, I really got it as close to what I really wanted as far as perfection goes and I’m very, very proud of the record.

RD: You should be, I enjoyed listening to it. It’s also great that the making of the album served as a cathartic outlet for you during a scary time in your life. The cover art for “Power” shows two holding hands, one black and one white while promoting a message of unity and perseverance. To go along with what you just talked about, would you say that this is what inspired the artwork or was it inspired by something else?

AP: That was during the time of Black Lives Matter, we had just started dealing with that and that subject always cuts me deep. I still can’t understand how we’re still dealing with the same issues that we’ve been dealing with for the past 400 years and more. I’m very much aware of what’s been going on and I play a broad musical style that’s rooted in blues, which is an African-American musical form. There’s so many people who worship it while basing their whole careers on it, but they don’t let the future come in. Let’s leave the old ways behind and let’s really stand up for positive change and again, I thought that if this was going to be my last record I definitely wanted to point out that this is where I stand. 

For that matter, I didn’t want a title on the cover. I wanted people to associate the image with me, that record and of course, it’s my story. I kept on pushing through the times of my sickness to really concentrate on music, positivity and what’s going to come next. 

RD: You got into blues music at a young age through your father while growing up in Belgrade, so how would you describe your upbringing growing up in that environment? Were you the only big blues fan amongst the kids you went to school with or was that kind of music fairly popular in Serbia at the time?

AP: I was definitely a different kid and I think my dad for that. We always had great music being played in the house and during those crazy political times in Serbia it was like an oasis of art and positivity. Music by the likes of James Brown, Etta James, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Aretha Franklin, all that stuff from Motown Detroit to Texas blues to Chicago blues and everything in between. It was just an ongoing everyday thing, music was the background for everything we did. I didn’t really discuss my musical orientation with anybody, but I did have a few friends who liked the same music and we formed a band when I was about 18. 

We played some ZZ Top, some Allman Brothers and different covers, but we definitely weren’t a mainstream band in Serbia. We did have a lot of TV appearances and I was singing in English, which was a first, so we would pack clubs and that’s how I started. Like I mentioned, this is the only job I’ve ever had and I began it back in Serbia playing blues. 

RD: That’s awesome. Outside of music, you’ve also been pursuing a career in interior design, so how did you get into that field? Have you always been interested in architecture and the aesthetics of certain places?

AP: Yeah, I studied fine arts and design back in the day. I’m very much into interior design, it’s something that I love to do for relaxation and it’s something that really gets my attention. I’ve always been interested in interior architecture and architecture in general. Along with growing up with a lot of music, I was also surrounded by art and fashion. There were these books that I would look at and study before I started studying music, so I’ve always been into it. Life is too good to just have one hobby. 

I have a few hobbies, but my main hobby and the one that got me through my most difficult times is music. Music and guitar. 

RD: Along with the upcoming show at Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club, you’re going to be doing a lot of touring all over America and Europe while having a show in Australia. Is this going to be the primary focus for you throughout the year or do you have any plans for any future projects or collaborations?

AP: I’ve been working on a few collaborations. I don’t want to talk about them right now, but I’m always in the studio when I’m home. When the kids are in school, that’s when I run into the studio to do some work, so I’m always working on new material. 


 

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About this Author

Robert Duguay

Robert Duguay is a freelance writer who covers the NH music scene.