Rod Piazza and the Mighty Fliers (#1503)

Piazza, one of the top blues harp players, and his band perform jumpin,' swingin,' West Coast-style blues at the 2010 W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival.

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From his first recordings in 1967 fronting The Dirty Blues Band, through his multiple W.C. Handy Awards with his current band, to his countless appearances both live and on record with legendary blues figures, Rod Piazza has set a standard for harmonica virtuosity that has established him as one of the most influential living blues harp players.

“Through the years, I’ve seen artists start off, and two songs into the set, you’ve heard it all, and from there on it’s downhill,” Piazza said between high-energy sets at the 2010 W. C. Handy Festival in Henderson, KY. “So I try to arrange the set to where it has peaks and valleys. The valleys are so that they can appreciate the peaks.”

The Mighty Flyers also feature Piazza's wife Honey on piano and bass; Henry Carvajal on guitar and vocals; and Dave Kida on drums.

Piazza first became interested in the blues and R&B genre when he was a boy with two older brothers who listened to Earl Bostic, Joe Turner, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, and Gene & Eunice, among others. “They (his brothers) brought home these records,” Piazza says, “and I’d listen to all of them when they weren’t home.” He was inspired to get a guitar, and in the early 1960s, someone gave him a harmonica, and he never looked back.

“Forget about the guitar,” Piazza recalls. “I got really, how do you say it, strung out on the harmonica, and that was it.”

This program was recorded at: 2010 W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival