Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bill Popp & the Tapes at Tompkins Square Park

Bill Popp was an adolescent in Queens, New York, when he first heard the Beatles, and the music inspired him to become a musician. Throughout the late 1970s, Popp worked days as a plumber for the municipal government and played nights in new wave bands like the Popsicles. He eventually returned to his first love, British Invasion pop, with Bill Popp & the Tapes in 1981. Although personnel changed in the early years, the band has performed live for 35 years. The band's most recent recording is a two-song CD called Popp's Last Flush, released on October 1, 2015, a humorous reflection on his retirement from his plumbing job.

At Tompkins Square Park today, a plastic bucket placed in front of the band read "for the love of music." Bill Popp & the Tapes played without a stage powered by a do-it-yourself sound system. Parents with children, adults with dogs, and people on bicycles stopped for a few songs, captivated by Popp's beautiful original songs and covers of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Lovin' You." Popp zipped over the keys of his electric piano with speed and dexterity while he sang feel-good songs. His passion was indeed for the love of music, and this love permeated his performance and enchanted the passersby, who frequently dropped dollars into the bucket.

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