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Bluesman Fabrizio Rodio

rodioIf someone gives you Fabrizio Rodio’s phone number and you feel like giving him a buzz some night, think twice. It’s not that the Rome native is stuck up, or screens his calls. Rather, he’s probably on stage tearing it up at a Chicago blues haunt. “I pretty much play out every night,” he says. (OK, about 24 times a month, but who’s counting?)

While it’s a long way from Rome to Chicago, Rodio, 32, has bridged the gap by pouring his Italian flair and passion into the deep well that is Chicago blues. The result: musical magic. Since landing in the Windy City in 2007, Rodio has become a fixture on the local scene, where he’s known simply as “Breezy.” In gracing the stages at Kingston Mines, Blue Chicago and Buddy Guy’s Legends, he’s played with quite a few blues luminaries (including Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Linsey Alexander) and garnered praise from none other than Mr. Guy himself, who calls Rodio “a sure bet.”

Rodio says that growing up in Rome, he fell in love with Chicago blues early — and considers himself more of a purist than many Americans who might otherwise settle for watered-down blues pop. ” I love the traditional blues, the old guys, the Mississippi Delta guys,” says Rodio. “I still listen to Italian music daily, I love it, but I found the blues right away.”

And the blues community found him, though not in the obvious way. Rodio came to Chicago from Rome to complete his MBA at Dominican University in River Forest. He looked headed for business success, “but I always played music on the side, and I had some great opportunities,” he recalls. “When I graduated, some people on the blues scene offered me a chance to play out, and I decided to delay going to corporate life.”

That delay may be more or less permanent, as Rodio has found musical success as a bandleader and lead guitarist for Alexander, who just finished an album for Delmark Records that’s due out in July. Aside from touring and gigging locally with Alexander, Rodio also has back-to-back solo releases to his credit: “Playing My Game Too” (2011) and a reggae album, “Hope” (2012). Reggae and blues may sound like surprising bedfellows, but Rodio’s a fan of old-school Jamaican artists as well. “I don’t know anything about dub or modern reggae; I love roots reggae from the 60s, guys like Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals.”

There are two other big influences he cites: his mother and father. On the liner notes of “Playing My Game Too,” Rodio dedicates the album to them in Italian. Neither of his parents were musicians, he notes, but they backed him 100 percent. “When I fell in love with the music, they helped in terms of support and the love they showed for what I was doing.”

To order Fabrizio Rodio CD “Playing My Game Too,” visit www.cdbaby.com/cd/breezy. To check on future shows with Linsey Alexander, visit www.linseyalexander.com/shows.htm.

About Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo is award-winning journalist who spent 20 years reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. He began writing for Fra Noi in 2007, and claims maternal and paternal southern Italian lineage. The monthly Lou&A columnist and a music reviewer/writer, his work has appeared in Reuters, Aol, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and news outlets around the world. In 1993, he was a Pulitzer Prize team-reporting finalist for his contributions to the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. He resides in Chicago with his wife of 21 years, a hospital chaplain, and their teenage son and daughter.