By Nina Reeba
Saturday night is the hottest time on the FM
dial for blues radio. "T," who is known as Ted Tepsich
off the air, cranks up the blues jukebox every Saturday night
with "Every Shade of Blue" on KSDS-FM (88.3) from 9
p.m. until 2 a.m. from San Diego City College studios. Meanwhile,
Dan Pothier holds court across town with "Blues Time"
on KPBS-FM (89.5) every Saturday night from 9 p.m. until midnight
at San Diego State University. Love of the blues is infectious;
count these two among the afflicted.
can channel-surf and get the benefit of both programs, although
Pothier noted his individuality. "I have a different style
than T," Pothier said. Tepsich acknowledged Pothier's influence.
"Dan coming on board inspired me to make a few changes and
fine-tune my show," he said.
Pothier said he doesn't plan to compete with
the KSDS blues show. He even listens to Tepsich on his drive
home from the KPBS studios. Neither station is involved in the
fierce ratings war, which influences everything heard on commercial
KSDS's T will celebrate the 10th anniversary
of his program in December and has some special plans for the
fiercely loyal following accumulated over the decade. In addition
to a blues concert called "Jazz Live," he is concocting
a "Blues Cruise" for listeners, as well as an original
blues logo contest.
"The listeners teach me a lot about the
music and just make the whole experience total fun," Tepsich
said. "This is not like a job. Many of the listeners tape
the show every week. In fact, one fan showed me a trunk full
of suitcases loaded with cassette tapes of my shows over the
last eight years." During the five hours of "Every
Shade of Blue," you'll hear as many as 75 different tunes,
going back as far as 1920. Tepsich squeezes in many styles of
blues, including blues from Chicago, The Delta, Texas, New Orleans,
Kansas City and Memphis. He also touches on the various styles
of gospel, Cajun, jump blues and even country blues. He said
he combines these styles with a particular instrument in mind,
such as the guitar, harmonica or piano.
"The advent of the compact disc has helped the evolution
of my show tremendously," Tepsich said.
Not only does he have access to all the new
blues music, but all the major record labels are offering remastered
versions of original out-of-print blues recordings. "Having
a program director who loves the blues has also helped the show
grow," Tepsich added. He credited Tony Sisti for enlarging
the KSDS blues library from 50 to 500 CDs in just three years.
Tepsich grew up in Detroit but has spent most of his 45 years
in San Diego. He's been living with an eye disease-retinitis
pigmentosa-since he was a child, but wasn't diagnosed until recently.
He is now legally blind, although some vision remains. Since
he's been working at KSDS for more than 15 years, he knows his
way around; but also uses an overhead screen device for reading.
He hopes people don't pity him for his physical challenge because
he said he now "sees things more clearly than ever before."
Believe it or not, Tepsich first the heard
the blues in an African jail. He doesn't like to talk about the
details of his arrest since it happened "a lifetime ago."
But he remembers a female inmate who was sentenced to death by
hanging. Her women friends gave her a farewell serenade that
lasted from 3 p.m. until 6 a.m. Tepsich described the tune as
" the most hauntingly beautiful music" he'd ever heard,
and whet his appetite for more.
For those blues fanatics who don't have cable
radio and happen to be out of reach of the low-powered KSDS-FM,
fortunately there's a blues alternative. KPBS 89.5 FM also broadcasts
an all-blues show on Saturday night. Dan Pothier, pronounced
POH-shay, came out of retirement in March to take over "Blues
Time." His followers previously heard his velvet voice in
suddenly opened up because of the abrupt departure of Erin Searles.
Flo Rogers, operations and programming coordinator at KPBS, said
Searles met the man of her dreams and is now part of a cross-country
trucking team. Searles hosted "Saturday Night Blues"
on KPBS for two years. She also oversaw an all-jazz program on
KSDS for about seven years.
Rogers said KPBS selected Pothier as Searles' replacement because
he understood the style and presentation of public radio better
than the applicants from commercial radio. "Dan is also
a very charismatic and entertaining person with great knowledge
of the music," Rogers said. "We felt he would be the
program rather than merely a DJ playing records." Pothier
jumped at the chance "to do a blues show." "I'm
not in it for the money," he said. "I'm interested
in education, preservation and commitment to the blues. Please
don't think of me as an ethno-musicologist. I'm more of a blues
He humbly calls himself "just a DJ who
loves the blues."
The 60-year-old father of five grown kids has led a colorful
life. He was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, but he has also
lived in New York, Houston, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Los
Angeles and Tijuana.
"When I was a kid, all the blues people
passed through Beaumont to play at a little bar called the Magnolia
Club," Pothier said. "I remember climbing up on a crate
that I stole from a chicken house, so I could peek inside the
bars' high windows to see Louis Jordan. I was't going to miss
that. But the bar was segregated in those days so it was the
only way I could see the musicians."
also peeked in on B.B. King, Clifton Chenier, Big Mama Thornton,
Ike Turner (without Tina) and Chuck Berry.
With such determination as a youngster, it's not surprising Pothier
was eventually able to earn at least a partial living through
his love of the music. From 1973 to 1975, Pothier taught a class
at Howard University in Washington D.C. called "Blues History."
From the lecture hall, he moved to National Public Radio in 1976
to conduct a research project on the blues. Much of that research
consisted of conversations with friends and relatives of some
of the greatest blues musicians of our time, including Howlin'
Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Johnny Shines and Furry Lewis.
"I believe Robert Johnson is the musician
most responsible for giving the blues the recognition it has
today," Pothier said.
He cited the Rolling Stones, Paul Butterfield and Bonnie Raitt
as artists who claim Johnson's influence. A wide variety of artists
can be heard on "Blues Time." Pothier likes to play
blues records from as far back as the '20s. Listeners can hear
rare cuts from legendary artists such as Big Bill Broonzy, Nathan
Hale, Leadbelly, Maime Smith and Memphis Minnie. He also enjoys
more recent material by singers like Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor,
Katie Webster, The Uppity Blues Women, Debbie Davis and John
Lee Hooker. Pothier's vast record collection forced renovations
to his garage. He converted his garage into a music library that
houses 12,000 jazz, blues and R&B records.
Many radio stations don't own that many records. A vinyl purist,
Pothier has only recently begun buying CDs. And unlike DJs on
commercial radio, Pothier gets to select his own music.
"I focus on what I'm feeling that evening
and take it from there, he said. "After all, that's what
blues is - feeling."
By Colleen Gibbs
Jazz fans will soon be dazzled with the same
theatrical, sound-and-sight sensations that have mesmerized rock
aficionados at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science
Center. Beginning Oct.1, the Space Theater will present "Lites
Out in 3-D: San Diego's Laser Jazz Show," which features
a 14-song soundtrack highlighted by jazz greats David Sanborn,
Hiroshima, Andreas Vollenweider, Lee Ritenour and San Diego's
own A.J. Croce.
KiFM staffers Bob O'Connor, Tony Schondel and
Jeff Prentice produced the soundtrack, which is accompanied by
brand new computer-generated, 3-D imagery created by ChromaDepth.
The technology blends with the soundtrack to form the first and
only 3-D laser jazz show in the country.
Previously, rock was the only type of music
to accompany the laser technology, according to space theater
spokeswoman Sally Buckalew.
"For the jazz soundtrack, the laser imagery is very different,"
she said. "It's smoother and more mellow.--more conducive
Lites Out in 3-D: San Diego's Laser Jazz Show
will be staged Wednesdays through Saturdays at 9:15 p.m., with
extra 6 p.m. shows on Saturdays and Sundays.
For ticket s, call 238-1233.