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Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers
@ Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues, July 12, 1998

Rod & Honey Piazza
Famous Dave's, 7/12/98
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp. All rights reserved
The audience's response was a pretty good indication of the quality of the show Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers put on recently at Famous Dave's. Even though it was a Sunday night and in the middle of summer the place was packed (standing room only), with some fans even arriving several hours early just to get a good seat. Usually the dinner crowd will thin out after the first set but not tonight. No one budged. The band was smokin', the crowd was psyched and just about every harmonica player in town was in attendance as well as many other blues musicians. They were all out to see one of the finer blues harmonica players to come on the scene during the last 30 years.

Rod Piazza
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles.
All rights reserved
Dressed in a bright red blazer, Rod was blowing strong and working hard all night long (so was his band). As the first set started Rod said, "I made a big mistake. I ate one of these big Famous Dave rib dinners with all that BBQ sauce and think I over did it." Well, we sure didn't notice any lessening in his harp playing. In fact, he was playing with a great deal of enthusiasm and blowing with that deep, rich tone that was textbook West Coast blues harmonica.

Rick Holmstrom
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
Rick "L.A. Holmes" Holmstrom was on guitar and was the perfect foil for Rod's harp playing. This was big time West Coast swing blues guitar by one of the best in the business. Rick, who is following in the footsteps of illustrious Mighty Flyer guitarist's Hollywood Fats and Junior Watson, has played with harmonica player's William Clarke and Johnny Dyer, and fit right in with the powerful Mighty Flyers' sound. Rick is in constant motion as he plays that big hollow bodied guitar reminiscent of a Little Charlie or Junior Watson style.

Honey Piazza
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
Steve Mugalian on drums was joined by one of the original Mighty Flyers Bill Stuve on stand up bass. Honey Piazza, who has been with Rod since the early '70's rounds out the band with a barrelhouse piano style along the lines of Otis Spann. Her piano playing provides a marriage of post war Chicago blues and West Coast swing that defines the Rod Piazza sound. Honey has a solid left hand pounding out those bass lines and a right hand that dazzles with her scintillating runs. She plays a wicked boogie woogie and half way through the first set she started on an extended solo ("Hang-Ten Boogie" from their new CD "Tough and Tender") that kept picking up speed and intensity as she went along, taking us all on a wild, hair raising ride. This was one VERY entertaining display and she was rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation, the first of several that night. The packed house was on its feet cheering, applauding and screaming for more.

Rod Piazza
Standing on a chair
Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp. All rights reserved
A master of the chromatic harmonica, Rod was in superb form and put on quite a display. He got a little frisky too during a walk about the audience and was even up on a chair playing his heart out to the ecstatic delight of the audience. At this point Honey was standing up playing her keyboards with her foot, of all things! The show was getting pretty wild at this point. As the first set finished the band was treated with a second standing ovation and spent the entire break selling their new Tone-Cool CD and signing autographs.

In addition to the new material on the CD Rod played a down-and-dirty Muddy Waters' "Baby Please Don't Go" as a tribute to Chicago blues (the place this all started for him). He then played what he said was their most requested song "Murder In The First Degree," that elicited an enthusiastic audience response. He even played a marvelous harmonica instrumental version of the rock 'n roll song "Rockin' Robin."

This was ONE entertaining evening of blues! It's been several years since Rod Piazza's last Twin Cities appearance, let's hope he doesn't stay away that long before his next show.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.