US Highway 1 is one of the original roadways carved into the great land of Miami, and her curves stretch from Key Largo all the way to Maine.
So when Big Poppa E plays two sets every Sunday at Metro Organic Bistro on Biscayne Boulevard and NE 69th street, he's pumping sweet blues poison into one of America's major arteries.
Crossfade caught up with Big E yesterday, snapped some pics, and talked Black Owls, Gullah speak, and how he got his name.
On how he got his name: "I used to just go by E. I was down at the Tobacco Road, and Oski said 'man, that doesn't work. You're Big Poppa E.'"
Big Poppa E recently inked a distribution deal with CBS Records' blues division after a label honcho saw him playing at Ibis Lounge on Key Biscayne. The label will serve as a distribution conduit for his own label Black Owl Music.
On how the name Black Owl Music came about: "My grandmother is a South Carolina Geechi. Geechis are the Africans who came on the slave ships that couldn't be controlled, the misfits. The slave masters took and dumped them off in South Carolina and they went into the woods and continued to live as they had in Africa. They created a dialect called the Gullah that's still in use today, that's a mix of African and English. When my grandmother speaks you can hardly understand her at all. She used to say that if you see a black owl in the daytime that it's good luck. Oddly enough, there aren't very many black owls. I've never seen one in real life. I've seen pictures, and they're very big, just like me."
On guitar player Darrel Raines: "He comes from a rock and R&B background. When he's cuttin' loose and you close your eyes, he sounds just like Hendrix, Stevie Ray, BB King, and Albert King all rolled into one."
On his younger days: I played basketball in college. My best friend was a Jewish kid who was the only non-player in the basketball dorms. We used to joke that we were going to be part of a new race of people, the Jewgroes, like Jew and Negro, who didn't know whether to barter or steal."
On the venue: It's the only place you can go on a Sunday in Miami have a good meal, read the New York Times, hear live blues music, and get your car washed all in the same place."
On playing as a duo: "Sundays, it's just me and Darrel. But you oughta see me play with the full band. We play all over. I might be the hardest working blues man in the whole South."
On his music past: "I used to play with Ike and Tina Turner, and come from a songwriting background."
On recording a new album: "We're getting ready to record the new album at Hit Factory/Criteria."
On his new band manager Jeffrey Ross: "I borrowed some money and he's the guy they sent to get the money."
Jeffrey Ross on his past: "I used to be a comedy writer in L.A. I worked on Mork and Mindy and knew Robin Williams before that show was ever on the air."
More on Poppa E's new album: "It's gonna be 15 tunes, a mix of covers and originals, like "Yellow Dress." That one's got a line that says, "The sun came out to play with the moon." See, every once in a while you can see the sun and the moon out at the same time. To a Geechi, that's a sign of good luck too."
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So, in conclusion, if you like blues music, Big Poppa E, eating brunch, or Biscayne Boulevard, head out to Metro Organic Bistro (7010 Biscayne Boulevard) from 11a.m. till 2 p.m. and experience them all at once.