Q&A with New Jersey-based singer & harmonicist Rob Paparozzi - far from being strictly a blues musician

"Blues is a Feeling, it’s Music that describes how you FEEL. The Black Musicians discovers how to put these feelings into song. But today the genre and art form are for everyone to express how they FEEL. Keep it real and enjoy the audience will love and respect that."

Rob Paparozzi: Harmonica Master

New Jersey-based frontman, singer, & harmonica player Rob Paparozzi has been a blues performer since 1967. But Rob is far from being strictly a blues musician. In fact, he's at home playing a wide range of music, ranging from rock to blues to jazz to pop. This versatility is reflected in the long and remarkably diverse list of major artists Rob has worked with, including B.B.King, Dr. John, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Carole King, Roberta Flack, Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, Randy Newman, Jimmy McGriff, and James Galway.                    Rob Paparozzi / Photo by Jay Rosenblatt

Rob has toured the world with the “Original Blues Brothers Band”, featuring guitar legend Steve Cropper and special guest Eddie Floyd and also as Frontman-Lead Singer for the Legendary "Blood Sweat and Tears". The Hudson River Rats have released two CDs, First Take (1994) and Get It While You Can (1999). In 2009 Paparozzi released a solo CD entitled Etruscan Soul. “Electric Butter” (2014) was a project of Rob Paparozzi & The Ed Palermo Big Band (Special Guests: Steve Cropper, Jimmy Vivino, Mark Naftalin, Harvey Brooks), with favorite Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Electric Flag songs originally arranged for big band by Ed Palermo and Rob Paparozzi.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Well, the counterculture didn’t interest me as much as the MUSIC itself. But being a Teen in the turbulent 60’s surely exposed me to great and diverse sounds as well as social change.

What were the reasons that you started harmonica's researches? How do you describe your songbook and sound?

I first became interested in the sound of Harmonica via Beatle Records then a few years later I heard amplified Harmonica on the 1st Paul Butterfield Blues Band LP and started researching it’s Blues root from the South and in Chicago. But I didn’t stop there and went on to study Classical, Jazz and Country, Rock, Funk styles Harmonica as well.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Along the way I was fortunate to meet and play and even study with players like BB King, Magic Dick, Bruce Springsteen, Dr. John and Toots Thielemans.

BB told me to follow my dreams but the most important advice was from Toots. Be yourself and your OWN style will follow!

"I first became interested in the sound of Harmonica via Beatle Records then a few years later I heard amplified Harmonica on the 1st Paul Butterfield Blues Band LP and started researching it’s Blues root from the South and in Chicago. But I didn’t stop there and went on to study Classical, Jazz and Country, Rock, Funk styles Harmonica as well." (Photo: Rob Paparozzi and the late great, Toots Thielemans)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, tours, and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Well too many gigs and Sessions to talk about here so I will just mention a few..

A Private Jam Session with Johnny Winter in NYC was a nite I’ll never forget. We played and chatted about the Blues for hours!

A Session for a TV commercial with Bo Diddley was a lot of Fun!

My tours with the Steve Cropper and Matt “Guitar” Murphy were like a training school for me.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I think what I miss most are the recording sessions with great musicians. Today you are asked to play your part and email it in. That pays some bills but really does Suck. I miss the interaction between my fellow players.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

More respect from the Industry. Payments for recordings and better paying shows. Oh sorry, that’s more then ONE thing.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in music circuits?

Stay true to your heart be diverse musically and become the best you can.

Always surround yourself with good players so you continue to grow.

"I think what I miss most are the recording sessions with great musicians. Today you are asked to play your part and email it in. That pays some bills but really does Suck. I miss the interaction between my fellow players."

(Rob Paparozzi / Photo by Jay Rosenblatt)

What is the impact of Blues music to the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Blues is a Feeling, it’s Music that describes how you FEEL. The Black Musicians discovers how to put these feelings into song. But today the genre and art form are for everyone to express how they FEEL. Keep it real and enjoy the audience will love and respect that.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I guess it would be fun to go to the recording sessions and observe The Beatles making the St. Pepper LP. Not Blues but much to observe and learn from watching!

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