by: Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
Jeff Scott is host of "The Blues Disease" that airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays on KUCI 88.9 FM. I listen whenever I get a chance. If you haven't done so yet, maybe it's time.
BDB: How long have you had your show?
JS: I'm actually celebrating nine years on the air as of this quarter! I began training in the Spring of '95 and was awarded my original time slot of Mondays, 9:00 a.m. to noon beginning that Summer.
BDB: What inspired you to start your show?
JS: Another KUCI DJ who discovered my passion for music while I was working at the Virgin Megastore in Costa Mesa. I was trying to up sell him a CD by Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters that I managed to get played on the overhead system in the store (convincing the store management and staff to play Blues was always difficult, but I succeeded on this rare occasion). He didn't buy the CD, but suggested that with my extensive knowledge about Blues, I really should be on the radio. I laughed and said, "Yeah right...and who's going to put me on the air?" and he said, "KUCI would!"
BDB: Those little commercials that Blues players make for your show are great. How'd they come about?
JS: Once I finally worked up the nerve to begin interviewing and having
guests on the show, I decided that it would really add a personal touch if I had the artists announce our station ID's rather than myself. Eventually it progressed into some of the rather wacky blurbs, bloopers and rants that now populate the airwaves during my program. A classic example is the now infamous Lynwood Slim attempt who could never properly state our legal ID, and ends up just having a laugh attack.
BDB: Any favorites in the world of Blues?
JS: Many...where to start...well, I guess there's always the classics:
Lightnin' Hopkins, Lonnie Johnson, "Gatemouth" Brown, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker, Robert Lockwood, Jr., B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker, Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, etc.
Then there are the contemporary artists; Hollywood Fats, Junior Watson, Kid Ramos, Jimmie Vaughan, Al Blake, Nick Curran, Kirk Fletcher, Rick Holmstrom, Janiva Magness, James Harman, Rusty Zinn, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, Blue Shadows, Billy Flynn, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Gary Primich, Duke Robillard, Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, William Clarke, Lynwood Slim, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, etc.
And finally there's the really unique aspect of my program and that is the
international Blues scene: Knock-Out Greg & Blue Weather, Vidar Busk, Kid Andersen, Sven Zetterberg, Electric Kings, Elmore D, Mitsuyoshi Azuma, Little George Sueref, B.B. & the Blues Shacks, Bluebirds, James Hunter, Marc Tee, Wildcards, Kingsnakes, Enrico Crivellaro, Egidio "Juke" Ingala, Mike Sanchez, Amund Maarud, Groovy Eyes, etc.
...and that's really just the tip of the iceberg!
BDB: Where do you go to hear the Blues?
JS: Unfortunately, there are not too many places to choose from these days. Top of the list would have to be the Cafe Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach, then there's Iva Lee's in San Clemente, the Renaissance in Dana Point, and occasionally Martini Blues in Huntington Beach. Of course there's always the Blues Festivals here in Southern California. My highest recommendation goes to the Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, with three stages supporting local, national and international talent all taking place in the beautiful location of Doheny State Park along the beach!
My best wishes to Vince Jordan previous owner of the Blue Cafe in Long
Beach. Here's hoping that he can find another venue and bring style and
class back to the Blues scene here in Southern California!
BDB: Are you a player?
JS: I wouldn't consider myself one these days, but I grew up playing music. I took piano lessons as a kid, played trumpet for four years in junior high and high school and eventually, like every other red blooded American teenage boy, began playing the guitar. I actually had my own band in my early twenties and performed locally in the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach areas.
BDB: Are you Orange County born and bred?
JS: I was born in Santa Monica, California and relocated to Orange County after my parents divorced. I think I was around six or seven years old when that happened.
BDB: Why aren't the blues more mainstream?
JS: Lack of support and exposure from the media. It seems that most people enjoy it when they hear it, but unfortunately don't know how to become educated about it. It's not supported by commercial radio unlike other forms of music. You can find commercial stations that play Country, Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, Classical and Latin music, but the Blues is subject to only a couple hours a week on public and college radio formats. The Grammys certainly don't help either. They do not televise giving out the awards in the Blues categories, although it's obvious that they lack education in this department anyway judging on the artists that they select.
BDB: You've let on that you have deep dark secrets and sordid details that surround your mysterious and complex personality. For instance....?
JS: Well...I'm sure that most people would be surprised to learn that I'm
actually not all that comfortable in large groups of people. Especially when it comes to standing up in front of an audience. I've been invited many times to introduce performers on stage at festivals and clubs, but generally turn it down. I don't like being the center of attention. That probably sounds ridiculous coming from someone who's been on the air every week for the last 9 years!
BDB: You have any changes planned for your show this fall?
JS: Nothing as of yet. The last major change that occurred on the program was when I changed the name of the show from "DJ Play My Blues" to it's current title "The Blues Disease." That was a major decision for me, but I felt it was more appropriate and fit the personality of my show better.
Aside from that, my goal is always to keep the show sounding fresh. I'm
constantly in search of new music and new artists to add to the programming. Most blues radio to me sounds very much like Classic Rock, recycling the same old standards over and over. Too me, that isn't very interesting and actually does a disservice to the music. I certainly want to acknowledge the past and educate the listeners about where this music originated from, but it also needs to move forward. As great as all the legends are, most are no longer with us and in order to truly appreciate this music you need to experience it live, in the flesh. That is why we need to identify and support the artists who are actively keeping this music alive with respect to it's history and tradition and do so with a sense of passion and integrity.
BDB: Anything else?
JS: I just want this music to survive. I think that support for this music
is currently at an all time low. It's not that people don't appreciate it, but they need to show it. Support live music, purchase CDs, attend festivals, frequent the Blues clubs, educate yourselves and most importantly support radio stations like KUCI who help keep this music on the air!
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett hosts "Writers on Writing" Thursdays at 5 p.m. PDT and is author of PEN ON FIRE, Harcourt, 2004. Visit her web site at
Pictured above: Jeff Scott (left) with blues artist Al Blake (right).