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ROD PIAZZA Busy bluesman remains active on the road



Published: Thu, April 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The longtime blues artist will perform one show in Struthers.

The life of a bluesman is not easy: living out of a suitcase, traveling days only to perform nights.

For 40-year veteran Rod Piazza, it's a life well known, with gigs running together like drops of water out of a leaky faucet. After awhile, you stop counting and accept this is your fate.

"It's tough going," Piazza said, calling from his home in Los Angeles. "The traveling is really hard. The music is always great when you are on stage. It's a great reward but it's a tough life."

As arguably one of the best blues harmonica players around, Piazza released "Keepin' It Real" last year as a present to himself and fans -- perhaps slightly more for the former he joked. The 13-track release features six original tunes, with the rest being cover songs that have been staples of Rod Piazza & amp; The Mighty Flyers sets for years.

Included on the album is McKinley Morganfield's blues standard "Baby Please Don't Go." Fans should expect the song to be a memorable cornerstone of Piazza's live set when he comes through Struthers Sunday for a show at The Cellar.

"Yeah, the changes are a little bit different blues changes than your standard [song], so a lot of guys don't go after it because it's not the easiest thing to pull off," Piazza said. "Obviously, the [mouth] harp and the guitar answer thing is ala Muddy Waters, that groove. It's just not one you hear a lot. It's kind of like been forgotten."

In many ways, Piazza too has been, if not forgotten, at least anonymous within mainstream circles, having existed for a quarter of a century as a touring musician. The 57-year-old is hoping that changes with the July release of his new album "For the Chosen Few," which features numerous guests including Phil Guy, Buddy Guy's brother.

"It's a straight [blues] record but it just encompasses a little bit more of a sweeter sound with singers, the horn section and the guests," Piazza said. "Obviously, it adds another aspect to everything."

DVD in fall

Also in the works is the first Rod Piazza & amp; The Mighty Flyers concert DVD due out this fall. Things are happening for this mouth harp master, which brings us to an interesting point.

What is it about the small instrument that fits in the palm of your hand yet electrifies audiences, speaks to the soul and invariably steals the limelight away from the electric guitar whenever it's played?

"Everybody knows the human voice is the greatest instrument, but I think the harmonica is the most expressive thing next to it," Piazza said. "That's why I think it touches people. A lot of expression comes out of the instrument."

After pausing for a moment, he quickly added, "And it's a bitch to play."




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