Goin’ Southbound with Jessie Scott
For this week’s DJ interview, I’m featuring Jessie Scott from Sun Radio, a newer non-commercial Texas station that serves Dripping Springs, Fredricksburg, and the greater Austin area.
Scott was there 20 years ago at the original “In The Pines” weekend that led to her becoming a founding member of the Americana Music Association and a board member from the beginning. She also founded Music Fog in 2009 — a video production company and Americana coverage website.
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio and what other stations have you worked at?
Jessie Scott: I started in radio in 1971, after walking into ABC headquarters without an appointment. They wound up hiring me at WDVE in Pittsburgh, to do rock at afternoon drive, and I didn’t even know how to run the board. It was the first of my most magic-carpet-ride[-type] jobs. The others were WHN [in] New York, my first country gig; XM Radio where I was program director of the Americana channel X Country, before the merger.
Where do you work now?
“Southbound with Jessie Scott” on Sun Radio. [I’m on from] 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday, in Austin, Texas.
How do you describe your show and how do you define what you play?
Roots rock and roll, spanning the decades from Fats Domino to JD McPherson. From Hank Sr. to Dale Watson. From Gram Parsons to Jason Isbell, and everything in between.
How do you define what Americana music is?
Americana is the continuation of the big bang of American music — created by the nationalities sharing their musical traditions to create all our great American music: country, rock, blues, jazz, and so forth. There is a soulfulness to it, and a pride in creation. It is renewable. [It] touches people because it is reflective of what people experience in their lives.
Do you do theme shows or sets or spotlight certain artists?
Nope, it is just a regular mix, although I have done … themes, artist spotlights, and sets in the past. Show prep is a continuous research project of reading about music, listening to music, and keeping my ear to the ground for events and buzz bands.
What sort of music does Sun Radio play?
Lots of indie releases, many from the Austin area. I play four new songs an hour, the rest is catalog, which is drawn from the last decade or two, but which also draws from the last 50 years.
What was the first artist or album that turned you on to roots music and when?
For the blues, the Rolling Stones credited Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the ’60s and I bought records by them. Folk was easy with television shows like Hootenanny, and I had a transistor radio under my pillow into the wee small hours for rock and roll.
Who are your favorite artists from any genre, and what artists define Americana music for you?
Mavericks, Lucinda, Petty, Buddy Holly, Rolling Stones — [those are] my faves and what defines Americana for me all rolled into one.
Where do you see Americana radio or music going in the future?
I think it is essential to have a counterpoint to pop. I think the Americana movement will continue to produce brilliant young artists who are more interested in their craft than they are in being shooting stars. This is music that can be explored for decades, for very satisfying creative music careers.
What recent albums or artists are you excited about?
Too many to name! Josh Ritter, David Ramirez, and Randall Bramblett come to mind.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or interests?
Yeah, my “hobby” is Music Fog, which just hit 36 million views on YouTube! If I could live on the road, going to festivals and curating content, life would be about perfect.