It’s difficult to turn down filthy lucre in the shrinking music industry, but Popa Chubby -- a.k.a. Ted Horowitz -- did just that when he passed on playing the ogre in the Broadway version of “Shrek.”
“They wanted someone who could sing the part,” Horowitz said in a phone interview from New York. “They heard my version of ‘Hallelujah’ and asked me to come in for an audition. After two stage readings, they offered me the part, but I didn’t take it since it just wasn’t me.”
Not many of his peers would have left money on the table and a chance to jump a couple of levels just because it wasn’t them. But Horowitz is one of those rarities in the industry who has to do what feels right.
“I’m not a Broadway kind of guy,” Horowitz said.
No, Horowitz is a Bronx kind of guy, which is where he is from. Horowitz, who will open for the Fabulous Thunderbirds on Friday at the Cotillion, is a gritty, throwback of a blues player. He’s an old-school ax-slinger, who delivers incendiary guitar solos while belting out heartfelt lyrics.
“You are who you are,” Horowitz said. “You can’t change what’s at someone’s core. I’m the same guy that I was when I started playing the blues.”
Horowitz, who has been on the circuit for 20 years, goes back to basics with his latest album, “Universal Breakdown Blues,” which was released in late May.
A listen to the 12 new tunes makes it evident that Horowitz is a monster but not of the ‘Shrek’ variety. Horowitz is a guitar wizard who dishes out sublime guitar lines that takes a listener back to the days when Hubert Sumlin was bending ears while playing along with Howlin’ Wolf.
There are a number of searing original numbers, but the most mind-bending cut is Horowitz’s version of “Over The Rainbow.” His guitar playing wrings out every emotional nuance.
“I really enjoy playing that song,” Horowitz said. “It’s fun for me, and it’s a song everyone knows. I started doing that song a couple of years ago and crowds just went crazy for it. There’s so much emotion there, and I’m good at rearranging, and I just went for it.”
Horowitz went for the fence during each song. “I only know one way to do it” Horowitz said. “That’s going all out. It’s more fun to go that way.”