Rob Paparozzi's long career playing the blues has taken him across the country and the world, fronting groups including Blood, Sweat & Tears and The Blues Brothers, but it began simply at his mother's candy store in North Jersey.
A customer cradling a Paul Butterfield Blues Band record piqued his interest, and when he listened to it he flipped.
"It was just fascinating," he says. "Then I went back and started learning all about it, because it was like you're just this kid from New Jersey who doesn't know anything."
That was in the '60s. Paparozzi is now 60, and still lives in Union County, with a second home in Little Egg Harbor Township, but he tours widely and has plans to head back overseas in the near future.
He started out as a session harmonica player and then began taking over the lead vocals for different groups, including his own band, The Hudson River Rats. During his time, he opened for B.B. King and met Bruce Springsteen when The Boss was still a starving artist.
A few years ago, Papparozzi released his first solo album, and this spring he will make his solo debut in Atlantic City at Atlantic Club Casino Hotel's Burger Bar, also known as BB's, which regularly hosts jazz and blues shows on weekends.
It isnt that he never wanted to play here, but there were few opportunities in a town more focused on popular entertainment.
"Before, there wasn't a whole lot of need for me in Atlantic City," he says, "until they started having these blues nights."
He has two shows scheduled this upcoming weekend and more planned in May and June, all accompanied by either a pianist or guitarist. He says to expect to see more of him in this area, because even though he has been playing for more than 40 years, he isn't stopping soon.
"Hopefully the music will keep me going," he says.
Learn more and hear his music: RobPaparozzi.com
Friday, April 12: BB's, Atlantic Club, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Saturday, April 13: BB's, Atlantic Club, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday, May 3:, BB's, Atlantic Club, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Saturday, June 1: BB's, Atlantic Club, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.