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Interview: Rob Paparrozi: The Honeydripper September 23, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.

Another in the long list of lost interviews.

Rob “The Honeydripper” Paparozzi harp player and blues rapper extraordinaire, is one of the most sought after performers and studio musicians in the country. But getting started wasn’t easy for the “Honeydripper.” Timidity prevented him from answering this calling at first.

 “I contemplated majoring in music, but I’d walk past the music department and get scared, so I majored in sociology.” He’d always had an interest in music, playing mostly rock-based stuff since the ninth grade, influenced by two musical older brothers with equal enthusiasm. After graduation Paparozzi tackled the dreaded occupational blues by working as a juvenile probation officer for five years, despite the fact that his musical interests quickly expanded.

In 1967 he started playing and by 1969 he was opening for Sly and the Family Stone with his band. By the time they opened for B.B. King they were hungry, but confident.  

Paparozzi played guitar, but quickly discovered his vocals commanded attention. It was always: ‘Rob will be the singer, because he sings that song best’.” Not satisfied with his day job, Rob began re-thinking music and started teaching himself more about it. At the same time he started getting calls to play in wedding bands as well as his blues group.

Feeling inadequate about the more complex guitar arrangements wedding bands demanded, Paparozzi wood shedded when he wasn’t on stage. Then I learned I could solo better on harmonica, so that was it.”

Finally in 1979, his brother’s New York guitar teacher vouched for him as a studio musician and Paparozzi found himself thrust into the world of commercials. Game for anything (even a scary stint with his brother’s swing band on piano!), Paparozzi was nevertheless shocked when the opportunity to play in a Broadway show arose. So instead he subbed for the guy they hired. Now he was juggling blues, commercials, wedding bands, and a Broadway show, supplemented by part-time computer work.

Since then, Paparozzi’s musical world continues to broaden. Vocal jingles; back up studio work for people like Barbara Streisand, Cindi Lauper, Lauren Hill, Judy Collins, Roberta Flack, Phoebe Snow, Whitney Houston, Buster Poindexter, and etc.; working with producers (like Phil Ramone and Arif Mardin) on various projects; maintaining band gigs; and keeping an eye open for growth opportunities. he’s touring as front man for the “Original Blues Brothers Band”

He is a former member of The Original Blues Brothers band with Steve Cropper, Matt Murphy, Lou Marini, Leon Pedarvis and Eddie Floyd. and since of 2008 is the singer for the reformed Blood Sweat and Tears, replacing David Clayton Powell as lead vocalist.  As of February 2009, Rob has been contributing a to solo tour to benefit Christian Califano

Rob has both studied and taught harmonica privately at the Turtle Bay Music School in NY under the direction of Chamber Huang and Robert Bonfiglio. On the Harmonica, his main influences are Paul Butterfield, Little Walter and Toots Thielemans. He continues as a top call session Harmonicist in the NY area playing on Jingles, Artist Sessions and Movie Soundtracks.
Yes….playing in three touring bands can be quite a ‘juggling act’. That is why I had to leave the Original Blues Brothers and put the Rats on hold and concentrate on BS&T which is vocally very demanding.
BDA You have so much going on, I don’t know where to start. Let’s start with this: You are presently fronting the legendary Jazz-Rock band Blood, Sweat and Tears. How and when were you tapped to replace their last singer David Clayton Thomas?

It was funny how the BS&T gig came about as I had been workin’ with The Original Blues Brothers Band and Steve Cropper from 2000 to 2008.

But around 2006 I got a phone call from the Musical Director of BS&T.  They said David Clayton Thomas was leaving the band and returning to Toronto to work under his own name. They wanted to keep the band going and asked if I was interested. The musicians that had been out for the past 25 years with Clayton knew me because when they would come off the road week to week they wanted to play some blues in New York City. So the BS&T touring band became know locally as the Hudson River Rats basically with me fronting it and calling the tunes.

We found a little club on Great Jones Street called Under Acme and did a weekly Blues Gig and Jam which attracted lots of New York talent.  But the deal was, if you wanted to sit in you had to come up with a Blues song….which at the time was a challenge for the Jingle Singers and special guests. The sign up list at the jam was quite impressive: Carole King, Jim Belushi, Phoebe Snow, Buster Poindexter, David Clayton Thomas, Julian Lennon, Little Feat, Charlie Musselwhite, Blue Lou Marini, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Shaffer and Will Lee and a lot of session singers and players.

BDA Of the members of the band, Blood, Sweat and Tears,  how many were originally with the band forty years ago?

Well, that would be just one, guitarist, co-founder, singer-songwriter Steve Katz. Steve and Al Kooper left the Blues Project to form the band in 68;  it came about after a gig on Bleecker Street when they added the horns and other jazz rock players in New York City at the time. Most of the others joined in the early early ’80s worked with David Clayton Thomas on and off until 2006 when I took over. The band has become sort of a training ground for some of the best jazz and rock musicians i.e.: Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Jaco Pastorius, Joe Henderson, Mike Stern, George Wadenius and many more. Past Singers have been: Jerry LaCroix, Luther Kent, Jerry Fisher to name a few! I’m honored to be in such great company.

BDA As well as fronting BST, you also front the Original Blues Brothers as well as your own band the Hudson River Rats. Does playing with all three bands present any logistical nightmares and how do you handle these? By this, what I am asking is how do you know which band you are playing with when?

Yes….playing in three touring bands can be quite a ‘juggling act’. That is why I had to leave the Original Blues Brothers and put the Rats on hold and concentrate on BS&T which is vocally very demanding. It was a hard choice but BS&T had a lot more work and I had two in college at the time, so that helped me decide. I will never forget working beside Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd, the two living Stax legends. Now that is what I call a training in R&B!

So now just working with one major act allows me to book side gigs with my first love, my band the Hudson River Rats. We have been traveling to Europe and Japan with our special guest Rhythm section: Bernard Purdie and Chuck Rainey from Steely Dan and Aretha’s band.

BDA You are also working on the release of a new CD entitled Etruscan Soul which is due to drop this spring. It features many high dollar, top drawer performers including Phoebe Snow. Tell us about this project and how it is going.

After 40 years of playing on other artist records, I decided a project all my own was long overdue, hence my forthcoming CD Etruscan Soul.

The Etruscans founded the area surrounding Rome long before the Romans. My dad grew up in that area of Italy and I wanted to dedicate this record to him and my kid brother both of whom have passed on.

I wanted to make a CD of Cover tunes that I always loved and had an influence on my Muse. I rearranged the songs and hired different players and singers that I thought who really add a special contribution. We have a long list of cool artist like: Bassists: Harvey Brooks, Bailey Gee, Chuck Rainey, Dan Boone and Will Lee. Drummers: Chris Parker, Bernard Purdie and Shawn Pelton….even guesting from singer Phoebe Snow and Meters guitarist, Leo Nocentelli and many more great players. We are recording it at Jankland Studios down at the Jersey Shore a terrific studio.

Something else that I found interesting that many people may not know is that you have actually provided background music for a number of commercials. Can you identify the commercials you have to your credit, and tell us how you approached to do these?

I didn’t really start touring till later in life as I had spent a good part of my career in the  studio scene in New York City, also playing harmonica in Broadway shows and on movie soundtracks and on major artist sessions i.e.: Roberta Flack, Dakota Staton, Cyndi Lauper, Judy Collins and even Boy George!

I played on Coke and Mountain Dew commercials with Bo Diddley and Johnny Copeland and Richie Havens. Bleach and Pizza commercials too…from Ford to Verizon spots; from 1980 to present. TV shows like Cosby, a few Disney Movies and live on Broadway in Big River and the Will Rogers follies…

How did I get these gigs?

Mostly word of mouth.  I never had an agent or manager in my life. I was also my best promoter, do a good job with a smile and that will lead to other gigs…worked for me.

BDA Where can we see you perform in one of your many guises?

Well, I just got off a seven day Caribbean cruise with Blood Sweat and Tears, last December.  We did Japan with the Hudson River Rats. This spring will be  West Virginia, North Carolina and a tour of Germany with the ‘Sweats’.

In between all this I will finish the CD and do some local CD release party gigs so you can always check my MYSPACE for the most Updated Schedule.

Some of Poparozzi’s many credits:
TOM & HUCK / Disney
ED / Universal
RIDE / Miramax

Dakota Staton, Slo Leak, John Carlini X-Mas CD, New-Whitney Houston CD
David Clayton Thomas, The Fins, Johnny Charles, James Galway, Cyndi Lauper, Judy Collins, Roberta Flack, Will Rogers Soundtrack, Mick Taylor, Emanuel, Glen Burtnik, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Culture Club

PRODUCERS (worked with):
Arif Mardin, Phil Ramone, Danny Kortchmar, Paul Schaeffer, Lauryn Hill, Cy Coleman, Don Sebesky, Bobby McFerrin and Billy Byers

KFC, Pizza Hut, Maxwell House, Wendy’s, Lincoln Mercury, Stouffers, Long John Silver, Dodge, Ford, Coke, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Stetson, Oxydol, Dominos, French’s, Lamisol, Tylenol…..

ARTISTS (Perfomed with:)
Phoebe Snow, Carole King, Dr. John, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Marini, Will Lee, Jerry Jemott, Paul Griffin, John Sebastian, David “Fathead” Newman Jimmy McGriff, Cornell Dupree, Chris Parker, Harvey Brooks, Julian Lennon and Culture Club

Cosby theme CBS Mondays, Nick at Nite, Rocco’s Modern Life, Bump in the Night ABC, Cinemax, ESPN, VH-1, David Letterman, Hard Copy, New Hollywood Squares

Rob Paparozzi’s Fall Schedule:

Fri, 9/24 with The Johnny Charles Band at McCarthy’s Bar & Grill Bridgewater, NJ (9pm)

Sat, 9/25 with Blood Sweat and Tears at Ocean City Sunfest im Maryland

Tues, 9/28 with Hudson River Rats at Blend Bar Ridgewood, NJ ($10cover)

Thur, 9/30 with Garden State Harmonica Club at Trumpets, Montclair, NJ

Click to access HarmonicaHarvest.pdf

Rob, Will Galison, Phil Caltabelotta, Enrico….!! (call for cover charge)

Fri, 10/1 with Hudson River Rats at Robin’s Nest, Linden, NJ
*a special nite, the night before Rob’s 40th Linden High School Reunion!!!!!! (call for cover charge)

Wed, 10/6 with the Booglerizers at 16 Prospect Bar-Rest. in Westfield, NJ

Tues, 10/26 with Hudson River Rats at Sullivan Hall, NYC,NY (1st NY CD party!)
with The Nicole Hart Band & VERY sp. guests!!! 214 Sullivan St. (bet. Bleecker and W.Third)

FRI, 11/5 with The Rob Paparozzi Quartet at Shanghai Jazz, Madison, NJ

*11/19 & 11/20 Rob at The Garden State Harmonica FESTIVAL at:
(Teaching and Performing) The Holiday Inn (Rt. 17 South) Hasbrouck Heights deets on website below:

*Try and mark your calendars now for the NITE before Thanksgiving:

Wed, 11/24 at Sorrento’s Pizzeria in Westfield, NJ
“Rob Paparozzi and Friends” Italian food & blues……………..
sponsered by: “Jazz it Up” Jazz it Up! hotline
908-301-1285 (call for Cover) BYOB
@Sorrento Restaurant
631 Central Avenue
Westfield, NJ 07090

New Jersey’s hot jazz and blues music concert event welcomes you to Jazz It Up on the last Wednesday of every month at Sorrento Italian Restaurant, located at 631 Central Avenue, Westfield, NJ
The ticket price includes the concert, a choice of Music Menu entree, dessert and a beverage. BYOB is welcome. Showtime is from 7pm to 9pm. Seating and food service for the concert experience starts at 6pm. The venue, home of the original tomato pizza pie and more, offers the perfect ambience for a relaxing evening of good food and drink, good friends and listening pleasure. A destination for sophisticated families, couples and singles to enjoy life! Plenty of free parking. Conveniently located off of GSP Parkway Exit 135.
Ticket price includes concert, a choice of Music Menu entree, dessert and a beverage.
BYOB is welcome for this event.
Plenty of free off street parking available.
Open table seating for this event.

Rob’s BS&T Fall Tour in OCT

10/10 at The California Theatre
562 W.4th St San Bernardino, CA 8:00pm show

Bus Tour:

10/12 The Boulton Center, Bayshore, LI
10/13 The Rams Head, Annapolis, MD
10/14 Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe, PA
10/15 Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY
10/16 at Berklee College, Boston, MA w/sp.guest “Arturo Sandoval”

Back on the Plane!!!

Rob w/ BS&T at:

The Zurich International JAZZ FESTIVAL
(Wed 27th Wayne Shorter
Fri. 29th Tower Of Power)
10/30 Sat. The Crusaders & Blood Sweat and Tears

Happy Fall Y’all
The Honeydripper

*This is not Spam, if you wish to be removed, please send us back an UNSUB in the subject line.

all the best,

Rob Paparozzi
Booking & Management:
Mark Meding, FM Mgmt Int,LLC Ph: 917.797.8462


my web page:

visit Rob’s YOUTUBE channel:

Rob’s myspace page

SHAMELESS PLUGS:-)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Looking for a Singer or Harmonicist? Visit Rob under Male Vocalist at The NY Singers Collective

or Vocalist & Harmonicist?


or Sessionplayers:

For more on Rob Paparozzi


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