Beloved DJ Art Martel is saying farewell to KSPC and the Same Old Blues after 22 on the air. We interviewed him about his experiences at the station. Be sure to tune into his last show on Saturday August 27th from 11am-1pm!
When did you first start doing a show at KSPC? How did you find out about KSPC and what inspired you be a DJ there?
Funny story, I did not pursue being a dee-jay at KSPC, but was invited into the studio from a blues dee-jay that was on the air. His broadcast name was Left Coast Carl. I met him at a now defunked festival called Big Time Blues Festival. I had been living in Pomona for 5 years. I had also known of another radio show that aired on Sunday afternoons back then that played blues, so I knew of the station from that show. When Carl told me he was doing Breakfast With The Blues Show he asked if I had heard of it I said yes, but I really had never heard it till the following weekend, and it turned out to be a great show. So at the festival we get to talking and he ask’s me when is your birthday. I tell him in October, he asks me for the date then Carl goes on to say I would like you to be a special guest on my show for your birthday. Two months later I get a call from Carl and he asked, “Are you ready to come in and be my special guest? I have been waiting since we talked to hear some of that blues that we talked about, Since my show is two hours I will do the first hour, then you can pick selections from music you bring for the entire second hour.” Well, I was excited to do this and I confirmed. At the festival I thought I would never hear from him again but Carl was a man of his word. So, that morning was going fine for the first hour, then I start picking my selections, mid way through broadcast Carl goes out for a smoke! He was taking too long and my song was running out, so to keep the music going I manned the board . When he comes back he notices it is another song and asks “Did you change it? I am sorry I obviously took to long.” I said, “Yes”, Carl says, “Who taught you?” I go on to tell him I was a club dee-jay and familiar with the board. Me and Carl hit it off, he asked his listeners that morning how they would like me as a co-host the remainder of the semester. After the show I asked him, “Why did you do that!” He goes on to tell me, “You have great music and I know it will go well.” I agreed and that is how I got started on KSPC. [Carl] ran my paperwork through the station without me knowing. When I got called to start training I went along with it , but I called Carl and asked how did this happened. He told me he did it and my music was too special not to share. Carl was a true mentor to me in so many ways, so in the end it was Carl’s fault!
My older brother was an influence on me we grew up in the 70’s. He is 4 years older than me, so in order to hang out with him I listened to his music, which was a heavy dose of classic blues rock back in the day. [This included] bands like Led Zeppelin, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, Mountain, and Savoy Brown. I was a well versed 10 year old back then. When I was old enough to start going to clubs the new wave craze was happening around ’79. The scene was a real melting pot. I would go see The Plimsouls, a power pop band, but with a heavy influence on early 60’s R&B covers. Then I stumbled on to a Blasters show, an American Band playing American Music, and things started to change for my musical appetite. The British New Wave invasion was in full force, I was turned on to Pub Rock from Musicians like Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Graham Parker. I was getting educated, but still not quite there yet. Fast forward to 1983 shopping on Melrose at Flip, I hear David Bowie’s China Girl through the speakers. [It was] a defiant moment, hearing the blues on the guitar solo from a new name I had never heard of… Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1985 in Santa Barbara I am officially bit by “The Blues Bug”, as they say, [during] an afternoon performance from Mitch Kashmar and the Pontiax. That performance changed my life, as I literally could not hold back the tears [during] such a passionate performance. From that day forward, I was on a mission to study, learn, and share this music with anyone willing to listen. Carl listened and that is where the music took me. I felt I could do many shows but a blues show seemed right at the time.