9:19am

Sat August 17, 2013
marc on the blues

The Piazza’s: The Family That Plays And Stays Together

Rod Piazza has been recording longer than his mentor George “Harmonica” Smith, longer than Big Walter Horton or Sonny Boy Williamson and longer than Little Walter Horton lived!

Yet people call Piazza one of the “Young Turks” of the Blues. Since 1980 Rod has been joined by his wife “Honey” in one of the premier Blues bands of this era.

Rod Piazza was born in 1947 in Riverside, California, and had the good fortune of forming his love of the Blues at a time when many of the original greats were still active. He started his own career in the middle of the 1960s when the first great Blues revival was underway. 

Piazza started as a guitarist at age 6 or 7, but soon turned to harmonica, inspired by George “Harmonica” Smith. His first band, The House of DBS, later known as the Dirty Blues Band, recorded their first of two albums in 1967.

In 1968 Rod formed the group Bacon Fat with Pee Wee Crayton and soon after they were joined by Rod’s hero George “Harmonica” Smith. They developed a unique “dual harp” sound and were fairly successful.

After two Bacon Fat albums, several other bands and some solo work Piazza formed the Chicago Flying Saucer Band in the late 1970s. It was that band that developed into Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, the group that Rod and his wife “Honey” play with today.

Debra “Honey” Piazza was born in Fairfield, California, in 1951 and lived in England for three years as a child of an Air Force father. In England she started piano lessons at age 4 and continued through age 17 back in California.

Soon after, she married a musician who persuaded her to join his band. She had a hard time converting from her classical piano training to the pop world of musical improvisation.

It wasn’t until she heard a record by Otis Spann, that she fell in love with the Blues and rapidly developed into a very fine Blues player.

In 1972 “Honey” went to Chicago and played with several of that city’s top musicians before her return to California - where she saw a show by Rod Piazza while he was still with Bacon Fat. Loving the band, she arranged for an audition and eventually became a founding member of Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers.

After being a couple for several years, Rod and “Honey” Piazza were married in 1987.

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers play a Blues blend of raw Chicago, smooth West Coast, Swing and Jazz. They tour almost constantly and, despite their longevity, they are one of the freshest and most distinctive bands on the current Blues scene.

Enjoy Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers this week on the Nine O’clock Blues.

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