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November 2014 Blues Events

It's Your Birthday…
Light The Candle!

By T.E. Mattox

or blues fans in Southern California the annual Rod Piazza Birthday Bash is one of the most anticipated music events staged in the Inland Empire. Hosted by the birthday boy himself along with his lovely wife Honey, the blues will once again light up the American Legion Hall, Post 79 in Riverside's scenic Fairmount Park. As is the tradition just prior to the arrival of Santa, Rod and Honey invite all their friends and fellow musicians out for a day-long, old fashioned harp-blowing, guitar-blazing, West Coast Blues-dancing celebration.

Piazza remembers how the party started. "I was down at a car show at the American Legion Hall" he says, "and went inside and I noticed what a cool little stage they had, just like the 40's and 50's. I looked at it, it looked like a place that you would see a Muddy Waters or a Little Walter or somebody. It's got a short stage and a wooden dance floor that flexes. The vibe was just so period and everything, I go, 'Man I'd love to put on a gig in here and have a little blues party.'"

Rod and Honey Piazza
The Piazzas

The event this year, the 6th Annual is scheduled for Sunday, December 14th, and will plug in promptly at 2PM. As in previous years the talent line-up is nothing short of stellar. The Mighty Mojo Prophets, The 44's and The Mofo Party Band will all be on hand and it wouldn't be a real Piazza party without a number of surprise 'unannounced' guests. Of course, Rod, Honey and their band, The Mighty Flyers highlight the entire show appearing throughout the day to jam with friends and fellow artists and are always the last off when they turn out the lights.

Piazza says he's thinks these types of shows are very special, extremely rare and admits, "I like it because I get to hear music that I like, you know?" Rod says, "I don't put anybody on it just because they can draw people. I just want to put people on who are talented and play the same kind of stuff that I like and have been playing for years. It's a reward in itself to expose other people to new acts and it's a reward for me to hear them as well."

Party goers, blues lovers and musicians alike, concur. Johnny Main, guitarist and vocalist for The 44's said he has always admired Piazza. "I first met Rod at a Blues Festival we were billed on together." Main remembers, "I proceeded to tell him how much I appreciated what he has done for the West Coast scene and what an honor it was to open for them." Johnny adds, "Rod is an icon for a lot of upcoming harp players and is a class act. Rod is the REAL DEAL!!!"

The annual Piazza celebration is probably the closest most of us will ever get to experiencing some of those legendary gatherings on Chicago's Southside back in the day. An event where friends, fans and fellow musicians all come together for a full salvo of raucous, high-energy 'blow-your-face-off' amplified harp and blistering blues guitar. A festival that satisfies both the traditional blues purist, yet still provides enough swing dancing-party music to melt your mama's new saddle shoes.

So plan now to jump start your Holidays, Sunday December 14th with Rod and Honey Piazza, the Mighty Flyers and some of the hottest blues the West Coast has to offer. It's a full day of party fun and great music at Rod Piazza's 6th Annual Birthday Blues Festival. The show begins at 2PM inside the American Legion Hall, Post No. 79, 2979 Dexter Dr. right next to Lake Evans in Fairmount Park, Riverside, CA. It will definitely set the tone for your entire December. Not that you need additional incentive but Christmas does come early since the event is still only $20. Just goes to show, Santa can't hold a candle to Blues and Birthday Cake!

poster for Rod Piazza's 6th Annual Birthday Blues Festival


JW-Jones Turns Up the Heat for Halloween

If you haven't heard about Canadian bluesman JW-Jones, you've got to get out more. The Ottawa guitarist picked San Diego as the last stop on a ten-day West Coast romp and he made it perfectly clear he was here to torque the thermostat. Together with his air tight rhythm section, bassist Laura Greenburg and drummer Jamie Holmes, Jones generated some serious Thursday night heat at Tio Leo's Lounge.

JW Jones and his band performing
JW-Jones and band say 'trick or treat.' Photo: Yachiyo Mattox

Along with the constant touring, in the past year Jones has been in a Nashville studio writing and recording with Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge. Over the summer he inked a deal with Blind Pig Records and in October he dropped his eighth album, 'Belmont Boulevard.'

The San Diego show centered on the new Boulevard disk, but Jones and his band worked through an abundant and wildly energetic music catalogue. From the edge of rock to a fine, whispery slow blues JW-Jones can and will do it all. (I could have sworn I heard the theme from 'Meet the Flintstones,' but that could have just been the alcohol.) One particular highlight was their drift into a tasty twelve bars or so of 'Sunshine of Your Love.' However intended, it was a classy tribute and show of respect for the recent loss of Jack Bruce.

JW Jones, bassist Laura Greenburg and drummer Jamie Holmes
There's room for one more…. Photo: Yachiyo Mattox

Laura Greenburg on guitar
Greenburg rips on guitar. Photo: Yachiyo Mattox

Did I mention these musicians are also interchangeable? During sets, they take momentary trips into each other's orbits. At one point you might see four to six hands playing one guitar. Look again and Jones is behind the drum kit, Holmes is walking bass lines while Greenburg straps on Jones' six string and proceeds to tear off about five minutes of 'I've got your blues, right here!' Everyone in the club is on their feet… either screaming or staring slack-jawed.

The JW-Jones band is still on the road and continues to tear gaping holes through the U.S.- Canadian border. So, get off the couch, get back on the grid and pug in to JW-Jones.

Related Articles:
Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers; The JW Jones Blues Band; The Blues Are Alive and Well in Southern California; Nathan James: Southern California Roots; Billy Watson: San Diego's Mr. Natural; Ode to Little Walter; Life on the Road With Charlie Musselwhite

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Let Tim know what you think about his traveling adventure.

I was there at the Shrine to see Bob come in riding on a baby elephant. He says in the interview it was either '68 or 69: it was both – it was New Year's Eve (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite),

Debbie Hollier, Nevada City, CA

* * * *

Who else played with Canned Heat and Deep Purple at the Shrine in '68?

Bill, LA

I think the Shrine show on New Years in '68, where Bob Hite rode out on the elephant, also featured Poco, Lee Michaels, Black Pearl, Love Army and Sweetwater. Don't know that Deep Purple was booked on that evening.

Bill, maybe you're thinking about the International Pop Fest in San Francisco a few months earlier that featured these fine folks... Procol Harum, Iron Butterfly, Jose Feliciano, Johnny Rivers, Eric Burdon And The Animals, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grass Roots, The Chambers Brothers, Deep Purple, Fraternity of Man & Canned Heat or possibly the following year in Jan of 1970 when Deep Purple appeared with Canned Heat and Renaissance on a triple-bill in London at the Royal Albert Hall.

One final note: The current Johnny Otis piece didn't mention it, but it was Mr. Otis that took Canned Heat into the studio the very first time to record in 1966. Small world, ain't it?


* * * *

Thank u for posting it! Bob is still boogin' around!! (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite),

Stefano Di Leonardo, Fisciano (Salerno, Italy)

* * * *

Great Read! (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite) I will post it on Bob "THE BEAR" Hite Official Facebook Page,

Dave Tohill, Brandon, UK

* * * *

Hello Tim, thank you so much for letting a huge Canned Heat fan check out this
interview with the Bear. I really enjoyed it.

Best regards,

Rick Caldwell, Fairfield, Ohio

* * * *

I knew Bob Hite in the 60's. Canned Heat played at our high school prom 1966 Rexford High. The Family Dog, Chet Helms, Skip Taylor.

Max Kalik, Los Angeles, CA

Dear Tim,

I just discovered you from an email I received from Preston Smith disclosing his next event. I wanted to tap into his website Prestonsmithmusic but it would not link from your site for some reason. I have to say Preston really is a genius and I met him in Glendale at a jazz club about three years ago, after a fatal accident. By chance, I was invited to spend time hanging out with Preston and some friends after his gig. He is everything you say and I will never forget his amazing creativity and his positive influence in my life.

Janelle, Palm Springs, CA

Love the article! (on Lowell George) Lowell was my father.

Forrest George, Warren, Vermont

This Bob Hite interview is the most interesting thing I have read concerning Canned Heat. I have Fito's book, but I always was interested in learning more about Bob Hite. You did it here my friend...great interview!!!!!

Tony Musto - Pittston, PA

Hey Tim, Great article on Preston! I really enjoyed it and you did your homework. I'll probably catch PS this weekend.


Dave - Northridge, CA

* * * *

Hello, what a great article on Preston Smith! I actually met Preston one evening after an Acoustic set of my own at the Prestigeous Carlton Hotel here in Atascadero, Ca. We were loading up and he happened to be walking down the sidewalk and stop to say hello. I must say that he is a truly interesting and talented man that NEVER forgets to let me know when he is playing around the Central Coast where I live. It was so fun to read about who he truly is...(as if you don't know him the first time you meet him)! My adventures have only just begun as I recently returned from Nashville recording my self titled debut EP. I can only hope that my adventures down the road are as enlightening as Preston's and that I have the honor of a great writer such as yourself to share them with the world. Thank you for doing just that, sharing "Preston Smith" with the world.


Amy Estrada - Atascadero, CA

Hi Tim,

My name is Bert, I'm from Italy and I'm a blues harmonica player...I read your article and it reminded me of the two trips I made in the Delta, in 2008 and 2009. I love Frank's music and I think it's a shame people don't really know his work. It's important that people like you write about him. Thank you! In the Delta I was only a "stupid" tourist, but it was a great, unique experience I consider one of the most important in my life: driving on the highways, Listening to the blues everywhere, jamming in places like Red's and ground Zero in Clarksdale or the Blues Bar in Greenville... are priceless things, something I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life. I met a beautiful, lovely woman there too (named Hope), but I behaved like a stupid kid and I lost her... Alas! I will never forget that days and the chance I had to find happiness...Well, I also wrote something about Frank on a website, but it's in Italian... I give you the link of the first part (the second will be published in the next weeks) anyway if you know some Italian or somebody who can understand it... Even if I'm thinking of making a translation


Bert - Pavia, Italy

I wanna be Tim!

Brent, Seattle, WA

* * *

Those pictures give you an idea of what the Rockin' Pneumonia actually looks like and it looks BAD! But the man can still play! Enjoyed the article - give us more TRAVELING BLUES BOY!

Steve Thomas - NA, INDIANA

* * *

Good Stuff, Tim. Having been a Johnny Winter fan since the first time I heard Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo, it was great hearing his take on some his highlight moments that defined his blues career. His affiliation with Muddy Waters was particularly interesting. Kudos for bringing that out. Thanks to your dedication to covering the blues scene, this "one of a kind" music still lives for servicemen & women around the world. Keep it Up!

Brandon Williams, Moreno Valley, CA

* * *

Impressive! What a legend and how cool that you got so much time with him, Tim.

Don, Louisville, KY

Tim - Great article, enjoyed Little Feat/Lowell George story, really brought me back in time. Did not know he was a fishin' man! Wonder what surfaces out of the abyss of your memory next?

Steve Thomas, New Albany, IN

* * * *


I really liked your travel back in time with Lowell and Little Feat. As a long time Feat fan (mostly the stuff with Lowell) it was cool to read. I learned several of their songs back in the day and they still stand up today when played live. Another singer I really liked from back then is TimBuckley. Thanks for the article.

Chet Hogoboom, Arroyo Grande, CA

Loved your last issue of TB, especially the Mayall piece. I want that guy's job!

Brent, Seattle, WA


This is a great write up. Has it been printed in any magazines? It's better than a lot of things I read in my guitar magazines, so props for that.

Caejar, Moreno Valley, CA


I can tell that you have this passion for jazz. I wonder if you yourself play any instrument. Or are you just a groupie like most of us?

I talked with a mid-aged flute jazz artist a few weeks ago and he lamented that despite his talents (and he is extremely talented) he says that the industry hasn't been kind to him. He said jobs are few and far between. He said the music industry is combating piracy and competition due to technology being readily available to private homes and that they are not as profitable as before. So they are replacing live talent for synthesized or digital instruments.

Do you see the same trend in your relationships with your music network?

Bob, Pasadena, CA

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