Rod Piazza PART II

Leonard Watkins ISTS024@UABDPO.DPO.UAB.EDU
Wed Jul 23 10:34:40 EDT 1997

LW: The Flyers have got to be one of the hardest working
    band around.
RP: Yeah, we get all over hell. They got us traveling everywhere.
    It look like this year going to be rougher yet, with he
    release of the record they want you to run up and down the
    highway everywhere it is. So everybody can see you that ain't
    seen you already, can get a chance to see you and buy the
    record. I hope they do.

LW: It seems like you're always touring.
RP: yeah, but it ain't true, because we fly a lot of places. Then
    I only really try and drive the states in the summer because
    you don't want to get in that bad weather. This year I know
    I'm going back out in October and November. I got to go over
    to Europe in August.

LW: I always hear that the overseas crowd has a better
    appreciation of the blues. Do you think that's true.
RP: Well, yeah that's true. Now it used to be that way a lot !.
    Let's say in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Now there
    as a lot  them mixing it up. In other words if play a big
    festival, not everybody there is a blues fan. There is a lot
    people that don't really know blues, but they know you're
    from The United States. Their more into other kinds of music
    too, but they still go for it in a big way. You got a heavy
    core of real blues lovers that they know all your records
    and they got them all.

LW: The song "California Fire Blues" is that a true
RP: No man. I wrote that about these people live up there by
    Malibu. You know where they have them fires. I never did
    have no fire around my house, but I'm writing that just
    for them that live over there. You know this guy told me
    "Shit man write one about that fire they having now". I
     said 'well I ain't living over there"  They said "
    That's all right Lightnin Hopkins made one about an earthquake,
    He don't live out there where they have earthquakes".

LW: I know you recorded with Michelle Shocked. Who else have
    recorded with that might surprise people.
RP: I did record with this guy, Gary Wright, he made "Dream
    Weaver"  and I recorded with Tommy Conwell you know his
    group, The Young Rumblers. I recorded with Della Reese.

LW: Did you ever record with Big Mama Thornton.
RP: No, but I was on the road with her when I was eighteen.

LW: What was your first big gig.
RP: Oh I should say my first big gig was in the
    Cheetah Club in Hollywood, Santa Monica area. It was
    with Albert King and Quicksilver Messenger Service. I was
    the opening act and we got a review in the paper. In the
    LA Times it said Quicksilver Messenger Service wouldn't
    hitting on nothing that night and Albert King who's sidemen
    almost feel asleep on him. They said the group that opened,
    The Dirty Blues Band was something else, played with a lot
    of emotion and fire. They gave us a good review, we thought
    man we were sounding good. We were surprised that we even got
    mentioned in the article, because Albert King, you know you
    can't beat Albert King. We wound up doing a lot of gigs with
    Albert King.

LW: Tell me about Hollywood Fats
RP: I gave him his first job. He joined the Bacon Fat group when
    this boy got killed. He got around some bad people and some
    cats had hung him So Fats fell in the group behind that. That
    was in the seventies, he was calling himself Robert Jr. Jr.
    Shakey Jake give him the name, Hollywood Fats, he lived up in
    Hollywood and weighed about three hundred pounds. I was the
    first group he was ever in. The real fact of the business is,
    I got an album, I just sent the tape to Tone-Cool that's live
    with my band, me, Hollywood Fats, Larry Taylor on bass,
    Richard Ennis on drums and another cat, named George on
    guitar. He killed himself, wound up shooting himself in the
    head over some broad. Live recorded by Pete Welding in 1975
    I got the tape fixing to release it here pretty quick. It's
    out of sight. It's Little Walter, Muddy Waters, you know

LW: One tune on Tough and Tender, Blues and Trouble. That's a
    strange harp sound. The beginning of it, I thought my
    player was messing up.
RP: (Laughter) That's a low D harmonica. You know a low tuned D.

LW: You modify all your equipment. You not only sell mics but now
    you have a Rod amp.
RP: yeah, in fact I was over there talking to the guy today.
    Getting me a second one made and pretty soon they are going
    to start making them.

LW: Did you get into modifying the mics  yourself or do they do
    it for you.
RP: Yes, it's just a slight modification. It's the best that I
    could do with what I got to work with, but once we get this
    amp up and on it's feet. He's already working on this new
    crystal. So that we can convert all these mics I've sold to
    this new crystal. Which is going to be a big old fat sounding
    thing. It's more than what I had to work with before. You
    can't no more out of these mics than I'm getting, but when we
    get this new crystal it's going to have a heavy sound.

LW: I appreciate you talking with me, I really enjoyed it.
RP: All right partner. Thanks for calling
       I look forward to seeing you next time we're up there.

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