Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Rob Paparozzi interview

January 11, 2023 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 77
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Rob Paparozzi interview
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Rob Paparozzi joins me on episode 77.

Rob is based around the New York area where he started out playing in blues bands before quickly adding the chromatic to his harp arsenal. He took lessons with Robert Bonfiglio and then had Toots Thielemans giving him tips over the telephone. The versatility afforded to Rob by playing both diatonic and chromatic allowed him to enjoy a tremendous career on the session scene in New York, playing with many famous names including Dolly Parton, Randy Newman and Whitney Houston. He’s fronted the Original Blues Brothers Band for over twenty years, released a Paul Butterfield tribute album and his own Grammy nominated album.


Rob’s website:

Blue Moon Harmonicas:


Rob’s YouTube channel:

Tommy Morgan playing:

Rob performing with Dolly Parton:

Rob performing with Randy Newman:

Electric Butter: Walking By Myself:

Rob’s My Music Masterclass videos: https://www.mymusicmasterclass.com/premiumvideos/rob-paparozzi-harmonica-masterclass-videos-1-2-3-bundle/

Podcast website:

If you want to make a voluntary donation to help support the running costs of the podcast then please use this link (or visit the podcast website link above):

Spotify Playlist:
Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains most of the songs discussed in the podcast:

Podcast sponsors:
This podcast is sponsored by SEYDEL harmonicas - visit the oldest harmonica factory in the world at www.seydel1847.com  or on Facebook or Instagram at SEYDEL HARMONICAS
and Blows Me Away Productions: http://www.blowsmeaway.com/

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Rob’s moniker is ‘The Honeydripper’ from playing with the Original Blues Brothers band
Lives in New Jersey, just over the river from New York
Has Italian ancestry
Rob is mainly a harmonica player and singer and has worked a lot as a session musician
Started out playing in blues bands as a teenager
Started playing harmonica age 15, starting on diatonic, starting chromatic five years later
Equally comfortable on chromatic and diatonic and the similarities he saw between them
Took lessons from Robert Bonfiglio (who learnt from Chamber Huang)
Also had lessons with Toots Thielemans over the telephone after finding his number in the union directory in New York
What did Toots teach Rob
Length of the telephone lessons with Toots and kept in touch through the years
Met up again with Toots in later years during a harmonica summit also featuring Howard Levy
Didn’t focus on learning jazz from Toots Thielemans as Rob wanted to be an all-rounder on the harmonica
Spent some time studying the playing of Larry Adler and Tommy Morgan
Rob is a real all-rounder on the harmonica, which helped him in his session work
Session work partly came because of proximity to New York
Started playing chromatic after hearing it on pop music recordings such as Bob Dylan and The Beatles)
Differences and similarities between diatonic and chromatic and tips transitioning between the two
Also plays some piano and guitar, on which he was mainly self-taught
First time played harmonica was picking up one of older brother’s Hohner Marine Band harmonicas
Bought a piano, mother also played piano
One of Rob’s first bands was the Psychotic Blues Band, and they used to hang out with Bruce Springsteen before he made it big
Missed out the chance to support Bruce Springsteen when he was getting famous
How Rob started with the session work
Formed a wedding band with his brother where he had to play piano but he stopped that so he could sing and play harp
Started getting more of a name for himself and people contacting him to perform
Joined Blood, Sweat and Tears
Got a call to play in a Broadway Show, Big River, but turned it down at first due to family commitments
Did go back to perform some Big River shows later, subbing for Don Brooks
Played in the Hudson River Rats band, an offshoot of Blood, Sweat and Tears
Hudson River Rats had lots of famous guest performers at their regular New York gig, including Julian Lennon
Recorded a session with Cyndi Lauper
Also did shows with many others, including Dolly Parton and Randy Newman
Did a session on a Whitney Houston song and another with James Galway
Did a session on a Whitney Houston song and another with James Galway
Rob’s versatility was probably the thing which got him the sessions over other great harp players in New York
Rob’s album Etruscan Soul was nominated for a Grammy in 2009
Recorded a version of Ticket To Ride, which works so well on the harmonica
Strange Brew is another song off the album
Peg O My Heart song, which Rob chose to play on diatonic to bridge the gap between diatonic and chromatic at SPAH
Recorded a Paul Butterfield tribute album with a big band and influence of Butterfield on Rob and exposure to Blues (and Rolling Stones)
Has fronted The Original Blues Brothers Band for over twenty years
Was originally hired to be just the singer with Blues Brothers band. Rob had to work the harmonica into the show
Has been playing with The Original Blues Brothers Band for over 20 years now
Paparozzi’s Juke Joint is the latest of Rob’s bands
Has done session work for movie soundtracks and TV appearances
Teaches harmonica and has some online tuition videos available
Taught at the Turtle Bay music school, where he attended lessons when younger
10 minute question
Has played with the New York Philharmonic orchestra
Harmonica of choice is a Hohner Big River after playing hard on original Hohner Marine Bands when first learning
Sells custom Big Rivers with Blue Moon combs on his website
Chromatic mainly plays Hohner 270s, but played Suzuki chromatics for a spell
Has a customiser who sets up his 270s as doesn’t like maintaining chromatics himself (will do some diatonic work)
Plays some 270 Deluxe model too
Different tunings: uses Country Tuning
Plays some overblows
Doesn’t modify chromatics, buys different keyed chromatics
Embouchre: plays lip pursing and puckering
Doesn’t believe that tongue blocking gives you a bigger tone
Mics: Rob helped Audix design the Fireball mic
Mainly goes for a clean sound
Does still use tube amps, with the Audix Fireball
Doesn’t like to modify amps for harmonica
Future plans