By Steve Barnes
Queens offers a lot of ways to cool off with music during the summer months, from evenings under the stars in a city park, to rock bands cranking up the volume within sight of the Atlantic Ocean in the Rockways.
But Bill Popp and The Tapes have landed on an ingenious way to combine beating the heat with enjoying some original sounds. For the next two Wednesday nights, Aug. 10 and 17, the band will be in residence at a rather unusual location: Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices and Ice Cream at the Whitepoint Shopping Center at 32-07 14th Ave. in College Point. Playing three sets a night, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the band will treat audiences to a mix of sounds that runs from the 1970s, when Popp got his start playing in venues around New York City, to the present day.
While Popp worked for many years as a plumber (even plying his trade at the legendary CBGB’s) before his recent retirement, he’s far from a stranger to the professional stage. Having played gigs in such far-flung locations as New Orleans, England and South Korea, Popp was on stage for the 50th anniversary of the legendary Max’s Kansas City and also played Gerde’s Folk City, which in its day hosted performers from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to Steely Dan and Patti Smith.
However, the College Point musician has brought his distinctive musical persona to the stage without ever losing sight of the day job that paid his rent for many years. With a recent single entitled “Flushing His Plumbing Job Down the Drain” and a CD entitled “Popp’s Last Flush,” a wry sense of humor runs through his music, and while he never seems to take himself too seriously, the level of professonalism in his performances remains constant. The Aquarian Weekly has called his music “classic rock/indie at its finest.”
Popp’s mission goes beyond just music as well. Every year, he plays a show he calls the “Daddy Tapes” as both a salute to his late father, George L. Popp, and a charitable fundraiser. This year’s edition, the 30th, was held at the Bowery Electric in the East Village and benefited the American Heart Association.
While taking in Popp’s sounds with some frozen treats on the side might sound like the perfect way to spend an August evening, those who like to hear their classic rock in more familiar concert settings have several opportunities to do just that in the coming weeks. Bill Popp and the Tapes will be playing at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park on Aug. 16, and will take the stage at Astoria’s Irish Whiskey Bar, 28-48 31st St. on Sept. 17.
For more information on Bill Popp and the Tapes, go to www.billp