When Pop n Fresh was first formed over 20 years ago, it was a clever name for a unique family merger — father (Pop) and son (Fresh) putting together a band to play around town. But the band has grown to include a full slate of family members, and with a new generation coming of age in the next decade or two, Pop n Fresh may become one of Fort Wayne’s longest-running bands.
“Pop” Ted Brown may have seniority in the current family musical project, but he himself comes from a long line of successful musicians. Both of his parents and all of his brothers played professionally. Ted for years plied his trade in Nashville, earning a solid reputation as a player and songwriter. With one of his songs hitting the country charts and another featured in a film, Ted and his wife Pam began raising their family in Tennessee, exposing their firstborn child and only son, Travis, to the ups and downs of the music business. Three more children — all girls — joined the fold, though as they arrived the Browns headed back to Fort Wayne. It was Travis who was to become the Fresh of Pop n Fresh, and Ted says the band name referred to more than their family roles.
“It was really a father and son operation so the name came from that, but at the time Travis was also working as a cook so we would dress up to play on that name,” said Ted. “We’d wear the Pop n Fresh hats and checkered pants.
The band has evolved in many ways over the course of 20 years. Having established themselves as a blues band, they played places like the Hot Spot and other smaller venues. But as some of those places began to close, and to take advantage of their broad musical interests, Pop n Fresh branched out to include roots music, soul, R&B and rockabilly. They’ve also added ample doses of original music to their repertoire, releasing a live CD and an album of all new material, “Second Helping,” a few years ago.
Pop n Fresh includes more family members now, with Ted’s wife and Travis’s mother, Pam, now singing and playing autoharp and flute, while Ted and Pam’s three daughters — Destina, Crystal and Sarah — and Travis’s wife Barbara bring a new dimension to the act. Drummer Kevin Jackson and Paul LeClair join the Browns making for one very crowded but talented stage. Ted Brown hopes a rebounding economy helps boost their opportunities to perform beyond their regular Thursday Night Open Jam, lately hosted by VIP Bar & Grill.