5 Questions with the Master of All Things Americana, "Sleepy" John Sandidge

With three radio shows and a steady stream of concerts Sleepy has put himself and Santa Cruz on the map.

Forget Howard Stern.

"Sleepy" John Sandidge is the King of All Media, Santa Cruz-style.

He does two talk radio shows on one station and the premiere live music show on another. You can hear him on KZSC-FM (88.1) Wednesdays at 7 p.m. doing his show "Talkabout." Then, he does a show called "Bushwacker's Breakfast" from 6-9 a.m. on KZSC.

Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon he does "Please Stand By," an internationally famous live music show on ), on which musicians who are playing Santa Cruz preview their shows with live sets.

And here's a little TV clip about him.

On top of that, he's been written about in songs such as Robert Earl Keen's hit "I'm Comin' Home," in which he sings these lyrics:

They threw a party there from dusk 'till dawn
Seems like everybody knows old sleepy John
He said next time I better bring you along
I'm comin' home to you

They had fresh caught salmon on the bareques
There were people jammin' all night to the blues
Life is good out in Santa Cruz but
I'm comin' home to you.

Here's a video of Robert Earl Keen and Todd Snider singing to Sandidge.

He was one of the first promoters to coin the term Americana music, for the school of rootsy, mostly acoustic singer-songwriters, and as a promoter he's been bringing in artists to the area for more than three decades, from the Grateful Dead to Emmylou Harris. Upcoming shows at his Snazzy Productions include the Austin Lounge Lizards, Rodney Crowell and Robert Earl Keen.

Just to make sure he doesn't live up to the Sleepy nickname, he also sells antiques at the Downtown fairs on Sundays.

So, what's he thinking about now?

1. What's been the biggest change you've seen in Santa Cruz?

 The rebuilding of Downtown Santa Cruz after the 1989 earthquake. Lots of people spent lots of time and came up with one of the best downtowns in the country.

The right wing fought it all the way,  complaining about every aspect of the planning and  doing nothing to help. Its very gratifying to see how we everything turned out. Congrats to all those who spent so much time on planing a truly great Downtown.  I feel it could be even better if they would close the street to traffic.

2. Does the political climate here help or hurt business?

The economy and greed sort of went hand in hand and politics help it happen. I don't think local politics had anything to do with it.

3. You work at KZSC but are angry about the fact that NPR is on two other local stations, KAZU and KUSP.  What's happening to local nonprofit radio?

KAZU and KUSP broadcast pretty much the same programs, in fact some of the shows can be heard 3 or 4 times in a week.

KUSP had been broadcasting NPR for years and then Cal State Monterey Bay bought KAZU. They at one point were talking of working together, but it appears Cal State pulled out of the talks at the last minute and decided to do the same thing that KUSP was doing, broadcasting NPR.

This caused both stations to share the money that KUSP was raising during their pledge drives.  So now we have two stations doing the same thing and public broadcasting in the Monterey Bay suffers. 

KUSP has lost about 50% of its jobs and KAZU is being underwritten by the public. This battle will continue til one of the stations runs out of money.

The only thing local left on either station is KUSP's local weeknight jazz and classical programing (sort of a cookie cutter approach to programing). Also the weekends have a smattering of local programing of world music.

A disclaimer should be added that I am a disgruntled ex-volunteer. I think both of these stations are more interested in $$$ than being a community station. I could go on here about what we were told and what really happened, but i won't!!!

4. What is your favorite accomplishment in Santa Cruz?

Being able to bring high quality music to Santa Cruz for over 30 years.

5. If you could change one thing about Santa Cruz, what would it be?

The grid lock traffic and the chem trail wackos that follow the wacko leader Alex Jones  of Austin, Texas (This guy almost makes Rush Limbaugh look reasonable).

michael bryant April 26, 2012 at 10:46 PM
My favorite Sleepy moment was being with him when he invented the Internet. I was skeptical but he's proved me wrong. Thanks for being such a tech wiz visionary John! -MB


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