Rod Piazza Continues His 60-Year Blues Odyssey
For Rod Piazza, playing the blues isn't just an ordinary pursuit. The legendary harmonica player considers it to be his life's calling.
Gary Saretzky via themightyflyers.com Rod Piazza in 2006.
"It wasn't a choice for me. I heard the blues, and it chose me," he says. "I never looked back."
During his 47-year career in the genre, Piazza, 66, has won or been nominated for almost every blues award out there. He has played thousands of gigs around the world and released more than a dozen well-known albums.
Piazza, who performs a few times a year at the Rhythm Room (including an appearance last weekend), got his first taste of the blues at age 7 by way of his siblings, and it helped launch him on a 60-year journey.
"My older brothers got me started on the blues in the '50s when they brought home rhythm and blues and blues records," Piazza said.
And those platters included the likes of such greats as Joe Turner, Earl Bostic, and Jimmy Reed. At 11, one of Piazza's older brothers took him to see the latter blues legend in concert.
Suffice it to say, Piazza was hooked on the blues. He later started taking his guitar and playing around his neighborhood in Riverside, California, after that. It eventually led to a gig with the band Bacon Fat along with harmonica great George "Harmonica" Smith from 1968 to 1984. (He's also played with Big Mama Thornton and other blues greats.) In 1967, Piazza had his first recording with the Dirty Blues Band.
"I've seen a lot of great blues artists pass on, but there are new artists worth seeing," he says. "I miss a lot of my old friends."