Ana Popovic has been referred to as “one of the greatest six-string slingers of our time” and she tries to live up to those expectations with her intense live shows.
“At the end of the day, I play the shows for me and my band first,” says Popovic, who will bring her show to the Musical Instrument Museum on Sunday, September 3.
“We try to have fun with what we do and we try to go deep and forget about everything else. It’s about being one with our instruments and one as a band. Hopefully that translates over to the audience.”
Calling from a vacation in France, Popovic says she’s flattered when fans return to her shows.
“We try to put out the message that there are different songs on the records and themes that will hopefully inspire people,” she says. “I like when they come back and say you make us feel like playing music is the best thing in the world.”
Born in Belgrade, Serbia, she grew up in a house filled with music. With a diverse collection of influences, Popovic swirls them in her performances and in her recorded tracks.
Last year, Popovic took that diversity to a new level when she released her three-album collection, Trilogy, which features 23 tracks that are divided funk, rock/blues and jazz discs.
She says she was surprised by the enthusiastic response that the release received.
“When it came out, it was at the same time as a lot of incredible records and there we were in the Top 10 blues records alongside those albums from high-end record companies,” says Popovic, who played the Mesa Arts Center with the Experience Hendrix tour.
“I mean, you could have gotten the new Eric Clapton record for $9 or Trilogy for $20 and people were out there buying it. I guess that proves that people will still go in and buy stuff if they believe it’s good.
“This project was something that I always had a mind to do and I thought it was the right time to do it. A lot of people told me that it was just past its time and that nobody wants volume anymore. They want a song or a small EP of songs. The fact that it did so well proved to be to the contrary and it’s a wonderful thing.”
Popovic has enjoyed bringing the songs from the release into a live setting, where she also splits the setlist up into sections. Although there are some mainstays, she likes to leave some room open for improvisation. She likes to get a handle on the crowd first.
“Sometimes I will come to a show and look out and say, ‘This is a biker crowd’ or ‘This is a blues crowd.’ Oftentimes, they surprise you. You would assume fans at a jazz festival want a classic jazz sound, but on the contrary, they are jumping to these blues shuffle tunes and the real rock tunes. It’s wonderful to get that mix of different audiences.”
Ana Popovic, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480.478.6000, mim.org, 7 p.m. Sunday, September 3, $30-$40.