Contact Steve by email (remember to edit out the all caps for symbols) to make a request or make a comment about the show. Requests can be made during the Thursday 6-8pm show by calling (901) 528-1990.
From the April 2011 Program Guide:
Steve Auterman, host of The Deep Blues Show (Thursdays 6-8 p.m. and Mondays 8- 10 a.m.) has an unusual system for selecting the music for his traditional blues show. “I attempt to play each song on a particular CD before repeating them on the air,” says Steve. “Having played it through, I will retire that CD for several years before playing tracks from it again. This ensures the listener gets to hear every tune on a disc and hopefully gains a deeper appreciation for that specific artist.”
So, how does a young man from Ann Arbor, Michigan, gain knowledge of and have great respect for a genre of music with roots in various points of the South? After all, Michigan is the state that produced Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, and Grand Funk Railroad. According to Steve, his first exposure to the blues was the music of “Shakey Jake,” a street musician who busked the streets of Ann Arbor. “Shakey Jake wore a fur coat in winter and plastic sunglasses and a big straw hat in the heat of summer,” recalls Steve. “He was a sort of one-man band, and you would find him playing on street corners all over Ann Arbor.” Steve also was tuned into the blues on local college radio stations WCBN and WEMU. Ironically, many years later, Steve now hosts his own program and plays the music of Shakey Jake on occasion.
Steve’s initial venture as a radio host occurred when he was a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
His eclectic program was broadcast on the college station WRCT, where he started in October 1987. The show featured rock, reggae, pop, jazz, and even some “death metal.” According to Steve, “the station had an enormous record collection, and I began browsing through many genres. But I really got hooked on the blues records. I especially enjoyed the music that was released on the Fat Possum and Arhoolie labels at the time, with artists such as R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and especially Mississippi Fred McDowell.”
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in architecture, Steve did some traveling with visits to Spain and Switzerland, and several trips to London. He moved to Sydney, Australia, and stayed there a year while he earned a Master’s Degree.
Steve’s career and his travels eventually brought him to Memphis when he accepted a position with the architectural firm of Looney Ricks Kiss in 2002. He works as a planner and urban designer for the company, and his talents have been applied to projects that include the revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods such as Cleaborn Homes in Memphis and the restoration of downtown Bolivar, Tennessee. Additionally, Steve teaches courses in the architecture and planning departments at the University of Memphis.
Steve began listening to WEVL soon after moving to Memphis. During the 2003 spring pledge drive, he made the decision to become a WEVL member after hearing a song by Earl Hooker (short-lived cousin to John Lee Hooker) being played one evening. “I thought to myself: any radio station that still plays Earl Hooker is worthy of support,” Steve says.
After being a member for several months, he decided he would like to host a show. He applied for a position, was accepted, and The Deep Blues Show hit the airwaves in August of that same year. At first, the show was broadcast on Sundays but eventually moved to its current time slots on Thursdays and Mondays.
In addition to planning the show, Steve presents the program in a particular manner. “I tend to break down my show in segments,” explains Steve, “usually starting with electric and piano blues styles, then transitioning to acoustic and pre-war blues in the program’s second hour.” In addition to favorites such as Fred McDowell and Earl Hooker, Steve is also very fond of the music of Big Joe Williams and Furry Lewis, both of whom listeners will hear on his show. Steve says, “I never tire of listening to great blues music, even away from WEVL. I like other genres but find myself returning to the blues as a sort of comfort music for the soul.”
In his spare time, Steve serves on the boards of Victorian Village Inc. and the Memphis Regional Design Center. This past October, he also married his wife Elizabeth, and the newlyweds are planning a trip to Morocco this spring to explore the food, music, and, of course, architecture of this fabled African nation.
Those who love traditional, classic blues or who want to learn about the music will want to tune in to Steve each Thursday night at 6 p.m. (repeated Monday mornings at 8 a.m.) to be immersed in The Deep Blues Show. Go ahead, get good and muddy, you’ll be glad you did.
— Brett Fleming