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Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers

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This California-based blues band led by Rod Piazza, the harmonica player and singer whose stratospheric harmonica wailings owe a heavy debt to both Little Walter and George "Harmonica" Smith. Piazza began his professional career as a member of the Dirty Blues Band in the mid-'60s. The Dirty Blues Band recorded two albums for ABC/Bluesway -- an eponymous debut in 1967 and 1968's Stone Dirty. Piazza left the band after the release of Stone Dirty, choosing to hit the road with his idol George "Harmonica" Smith instead. Over the next decade and a half, Piazza and Smith performed together frequently under the name Bacon Fat; they also recorded the occasional album. In 1969, Bacon Fat released their eponymous debut album on Blue Horizon. While he was performing with Smith, Piazza released his own solo albums, the first of which -- Rod Piazza Blues Man -- appeared on LMI in 1973. The second, Chicago Flying Saucer Band, was released in 1979 on Gangster Records. As Smith's health began to decline in the early '80s, Piazza assembled the Mighty Flyers -- with his wife Honey Alexander on keyboards -- which began playing clubs in 1980. Between 1981 and 1985, the Mighty Flyers released three albums: Radioactive Material (1981), File Under Rock (1984), and From the Start to the Finish (1985). During the early '80s, Piazza became a session musician, working with artists as diverse as Pee Wee Crayton and Michelle Shocked. In the mid-'80s, he began a full-fledged solo career, releasing Harpburn on Murray Brothers in 1986 and So Glad to Have the Blues in 1988. Piazza & the Mighty Flyers signed a contract with Black Top Records in 1991; the label later re-released the group's albums on CD. Throughout the '90s, Piazza continued to record and perform with the Mighty Flyers, releasing the occasional solo album, like 1999's Here and Now. Beyond the Source appeared in 2001. Three years later the Mighty Flyers returned with Keepin' It Real on the Blind Pig label, featuring two new members, Paul Fasulo on drums and guitarist Henry Carvajal. The next four albums were released by Delta Groove Records: For the Chosen Who in 2005, Thrillville in 2007, Soul Monster in 2009, and Almighty Dollar in 2011. In 2014, Piazza & the Mighty Flyers returned to Blind Pig with the album Emergency Situation. ~ Cub Koda

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