By Madina Toure
After spending years working as a plumber, singer Bill Popp will now be able to give up his day job and play with his band, Bill Popp and The Tapes full time—and he’s celebrating with a concert in October.
The concert, titled “Popp’s Last Flush,” will take place Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Parkside Lounge at 317 E. Houston St. on the Lower East Side. The band will play at 8 p.m. followed by special guests Sea Monster at 9 p.m. and The Bowery Boys at 10 p.m.
Guests will receive a free copy of the band’s new CD, “Popp’s Last Flush.” There is no cover charge.
Popp, 62, has been working for the city Department of Parks and Recreation since the early 1990s. He has been playing with his band on the side but will now be able to devote his time to the band after he retires Oct. 1.
But he said the concert is just an opportunity to let everyone know he can commit all his time to the band.
“It’s not a retirement party,” Popp said. “It’s a party basically celebrating that I’m finally able to be a full-time artist and not having to live this split life.”
He attended Thomas Edison HS, where he majored in plumbing. He started drumming at the age of 13, playing the Beatles records and never taking lessons, rehearsing at his parents’ house, at 22-20 121st St., where he still lives.
His friend showed him how to play “Hey Jude” when he was around 15 years old, which prompted him to write his first song in 1969.
His friends asked him to join their high school band as a drummer, but he did not last long.
“The joke of it was two of the same people that sort of let me go on drums wound up playing music in my living room,” Popp said.”That encouraged my songwriting. I just continued it constantly.”
It was the death of his mother in 1978 that inspired him to make music the center of his life.
He worked as a plumber for a plumbing company called William, Muschler and Son from 1972 to 1986, when his father died.
He also worked as a plumber for the Board of Education from 1988 to 1989 and the city Department of Sanitation from 1990 to 1991.
He starting working for Parks in 1991 and was laid off after two months, but in June 1992 Parks offered him his job again.
Popp said he got into plumbing by accident, noting that he had first applied for auto mechanics but failed the test.
“It’s just how it was,” he said. “A lot of these kids went to school and their fathers were tradesmen. I did my job, I did it well. I was the only one that would turn down overtime if I had a gig or something.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour