Perhaps, in her latest bio, Belgrade born guitarist Ana Popovic should include the word overachiever.
Popovic, whose work has drawn praise from such rock luminaries as Bruce Springsteen and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, is set to release Trilogy on Friday, May 20th.
As the project title suggests, Trilogy is a collection of three records. Each volume in this 23 song undertaking focuses on a specific musical genre. Popovic and her desperately talented band ambitiously tackle blues, jazz, and funk in turn and the recordings feature iconic guest musicians like Robert Randolph, Joe Bonamassa, and Cody Dickinson, among others.
I recently chatted with Ana Popovic about Trilogy, playing with some of the best guitar players in the business, and her favorite Hendrix licks.
BRO – Of the three records in Trilogy, which one pushed you outside of your comfort zone the most?
AP – It was Midnight, the jazz album. I went back and practiced jazz guitar that I learned years ago when studying in Holland. I changed guitars, playing a Gibson ES 175 for the first time, and I had to deal with a different right hand position, different guitar neck, and a real clean jazz guitar tone. I had no effects at all and just played into a ’66 Fender Super Reverb. It was very clean and precise. Fast licks just need to be flawless. And dealing with the changes, still trying to capture the blue note, I approached the jazz standards from the side of the blues.
BRO – Any trepidation in trading guitar licks with Joe Bonamassa?
AP – Of course not! I love Joe’s playing and when “Train” was done I simply thought that Joe would kill it here. I texted him and sent him two songs to choose from and he chose “Train.” He delivered an incredible solo. It was exactly what the song needed. I admire him as a player, singer, and band leader, but most of all as the pioneer in blues for building an incredible career on his own terms and not just following the music business rules.
BRO – We are featuring “Hook Me Up” on this month’s Trail Mix. Did Robert Randolph share any pedal steel knowledge with you that you can pass along to me?
AP – I’ve played with Robert many times and I love his playing. Same thing as with Joe. When I heard the basic tracks for “Hook Me Up,” I thought the chord progression and guitar theme was so Robert! I called him up and he did deliver just what I was hoping for – a fiery, bold, funky, and unpredictable take on a Johnny Guitar Watson song, which was exactly was Watson was.
BRO – What words of encouragement do you like to offer girls who show interest in playing rock and roll guitar?
AP – Don’t go and learn from just one guitar player. Practice with different guitar players, piano players, or sax players. You can get licks and ideas from different types of musicians and even different musical styles. Trust your intuition and rock!
BRO – You are a veteran of the Experience Hendrix Tour. What’s your favorite obscure Hendrix lick? Maybe something from a track that the average listener wouldn’t know?
AP – It’s not so much the licks as the sounds he would produce with overdrive and fuzz guitar, his amps turned up to ten. I think his Woodstock “Star Spangled Banner” is out of this world. The solo, where you hear they cry of a baby and the cry of mothers and guns and screams. I don’t think anyone could even come close to that today. It’s simply a total control of the instrument, and he did it fifty years ago.
Our friends in Europe will be able to catch Ana Popovic through the rest of May, as she and her band have dates in France, Romania, Serbia, and Holland in their sights. Popovic returns to the U.S.A. in early June, with shows along the East Coast planned throughout the month before the band turns westward.
For more information on how to get your copy of Trilogy and when and where Ana and her band will be, please check out her website.
Also, be sure to check out “Hook Me Up,” which features the incredible pedal steel guitar work of Robert Randolph, on this month’s Trail Mix.