It’s a Monday night in Troy, and radio host Steve Daub shuffles into the WRPI studios with a small duffel bag of CDs in hand, ready to pick through some of the new local and national blues records on the shelf. At the top of the 8 o’clock hour, his distinct voice carries the words, “You’re listening to Stormy Monday Blues on WRPI-Troy,” over the intro riff of the blues tune of the same name. This Monday, he will give that intro on the radio one more time.
Steve Daub in the studio, May 2016
Underneath the stadium-style lecture halls of the Darrin Communications Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute resides the university’s radio station. WRPI pumps out music and programming with all sorts of content from the whacky musings of Harmando in the morning to the Capital District EDM staple of DJ Scooter’s “The Sounds of Now” on Friday nights. In between sits many other notable programs, including Steve Daub’s “Stormy Monday Blues.”
Daub began officially hosting the program in April 2000 after co-hosting it with former host Bill Burdick on a few occasions. Just over 16 years later, “Stormy Monday Blues” will again be passed on in a similar fashion. The program was started in the early 1980s by Jim Barrett (River Street Beat Shop, Troy) as a spin-off of his long-running program, “Kaleidoscope,” which currently airs on WVCR at Siena College. Since then, some of the hosts include Dave Thomas, former Smithsonian post-doctoral associate Kip Lornell, and Bill Burdick.
A mainstay of “Stormy Monday Blues” over the past few years has been frequent, live in-studio performances and interviews with local blues artists, some such as Rhett Tyler and Professor Louie & The Crowmatix taking residency status. On top of being a prominent figure in advocating for the patronage of live, local blues performances, this lead to Daub’s November 2012 induction into the NY Blues Hall of Fame.
Soon after Daub’s concurrent retirement from his professional career comes a relocation that will make him unable to make it to the studios to keep doing the show, but he is leaving it in good hands. Regular listeners of the program have become familiar with the new voice of the show over the past few months.
Though Daub is leaving “Stormy Monday Blues” this week, he by no means will part ways with music. While he wraps up some odds and ends around the Capital District through part of the summer, he plans on filling in some air time on WRPI, perhaps making an encore appearance on “Stormy Monday Blues.” He is looking forward to splitting more of his time between New York and New Orleans to take in the rich music scene and culture of the city where he already makes an annual pilgrimage for the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and he may look to pick up some on-air time in the Crescent City at Tulane University or the renowned jazz and blues station WWOZ.
Prof. Louie, a frequent “Stormy Monday Blues” guest, performing at Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill, Oct. 29 2015
An inductee of the New York Blues Hall of Fame as a musician (February 2015), Sonny Speed has a wealth of knowledge of the blues, which he will bring with him as the new host of “Stormy Monday Blues.” As an accomplished musician and record producer, Speed has opened for some big names including the Zombies, Cactus, Leslie West, Leon Russell and Toby Walker, among others. On top of that, he has shared the stage with Joe Louis Walker, the Drifters, Murali Coryell, Taz Cru and Chubby Checker to name a few. Speed has been getting acclimated to the radio environment as a co-host with Daub for the past handful of months.
Sonny Speed at the keyboards
It wasn’t entirely a chance encounter that brought Speed to the WRPI studios. Daub and Speed have worked together in the past judging blues events, meeting at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.
As Sonny recalls:
I was hosting the Capital District Blues Network jam at Caffe Lena some time this past December. Steve was there watching the acoustic jam and later that night he called me to the back room and says ‘I want to talk to you about something. I’m going to be retiring and I’d like you to take over my show. I think you’ve got a good fit with what I’m doing there.’ He didn’t want to go to just anybody who didn’t have a depth in the blues.
Speed owns Sun Spot Studio in Saratoga Springs and has produced more than 75 albums, so hosting a radio program that incorporates live sessions will be a natural fit for him.
Rhett Tyler performing on “Stormy Monday Blues,” Nov. 23, 2015
Speed lists several big-name blues artists as his favorites starting with Toby Walker, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Keb’ Mo’, and New York-based artists Slam Allen and Joe Louis Walker. Though he has a similar taste in the blues to Daub, Speed is looking forward to presenting his own take on the genre while bringing in new and returning live studio guests and continuing his own music activism to get people out to see live music.
Although “Stormy Monday Blues” will just be CDs from the studio this Monday, be sure to tune in as Steve Daub signs onto the show one last time to share some memories and words of thanks before drifting into the night as Sonny takes over to finish the rest of that evening’s show.
Catch “Stormy Monday Blues” as it continues every Monday with Sonny Speed from 8 to 10 p.m. on WRPI, broadcasting to the Capital District at 91.5fm and worldwide at wrpi.org.