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The Conductor is in the drivers seat on the
Blues Evening Train
Thursdays, 5-7 PM
Since December 1979 Bill Weis, affectionately known as 'The Conductor' has programmed blues on KKUP. Bill Weis also represents the KKUP Blues Department in staff meetings and oversees the department's annual blues fund raiser which is usually held during the second weekend in June.
Interview with Bill Weis is conducted by Leslie Ann Knight.

What brought you to KKUP, Bill?
I was in and out of radio stations for many years and a friend, Bernie Smith had programmed shows on KKUP. Now, this was before the days KKUP was a twenty-four hour station. It was a 2:00am on a Tuesday morning. Bernie and I were sitting in a bar when he suggested going by the KKUP studio. Bernie (his on-air name was Veg Nebulous) said, 'Let's go fire the station up.' So we did. We went into the dark studio, powered the station up, and had a great time playing blues. We weren't supposed to be on at that time. At that time KKUP signed off the air at midnight during the week and stayed on throughout the weekend.

So have you always played blues on KKUP?
Primarily, yes. When I came onboard I was told that we could play anything but rock and roll. We could play blues, jazz or country music, anything. Since rock and roll was available on lots of Bay Area commercial stations, the management thought it best to offer alternative music.

How did you decide to name your show, the Blues Evening Train?
I had been on the station for almost a year, then in August of 1980 I was sitting on a traffic light at noon on El Camino real in Palo Alto, California. All of a sudden the traffic light turned green, but I didn't care. Some strong thoughts and feeling about naming the show The Blues Evening Train came over me, so I stopped to write it down before I forgot it.

Tell me about the three theme songs you use to set the mood of your show.
Yes, I have three songs I like to start the show with. The first is Kid Boogie Woogie, by Hans Olson. It's a harp driven tune. Harmonicas are my favorite instrument and Hans Olson is particularly talented. Then there's Hold That Train recorded by Blyther Smith and lastly, Blues Train by Big Joe Turner and the Roomful of Blues. Incidentally, I air the original Lp's, all on vinyl.

Can you remember your first introduction to blues?
It was probably Muddy Waters or B.B. King, back in the sixties.

And your all-time favorite blues artist?
It's a tough call, between Muddy Waters and Little Walter (Jacobs).

The word blues means . . .
The vacuum cleaner.

(Leslie laughs.) Did I hear you right? The vacuum cleaner?
Well, I had a roommate in the late sixties. We always cleaned the house on Saturday morning. There was nothing like it. We'd turn the stereo up loud blaring blues to drown out the vacuum cleaner. That made it much easier to do house-cleaning.

Your top five desert island LPs or CDs are . .
  1. Muddy Waters, Hard Again.
    I like every track on this release. It has been reissued on CD.
  2. B.B. King, Electric.
    This one has some very strong lyrics and it's happening musically.
  3. The Nighthawks, I think it's titled Psychedelia.
    It's a reissued CD which includes the tune, Nineteen Years Old.
  4. John Lee Hooker, The Healer.
    John Lee is joined here by some fellow blues greats. Bonnie Raitt, Roy Rogers, Charlie Musselwhite are excellent, and in particular I like the easy, conversational interaction between Hooker and Bonnie Raitt.
  5. William Clarke, Serious Intentions on Alligator Records.
    Clarke does some fine slow harmonica work on this one. His tone is it.
In one word, what comes to mind when I mention the following artists?
Albert King.
Paul Butterfield.
Albert Collins
Little Walter.
The King.
Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Modern blues.

With nearly thirty hours of blues each week on KKUP, how do you see the future of blues on KKUP?
KKUP has enjoyed a strong blues staff from the beginning. The blues are growing and becoming more listened to by mainstream listeners, in part due to the House of Blues. Stevie Ray Vaughan also introduced blues to a younger audience. Once the teenagers are enamored with blues, then they'll research and seek out the more authentic players. Hipping our listeners to the best in blues, whether it's hot off the presses or a scratchy vinyl Lp, is what the blues department is about at KKUP.

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