“I noticed the music community here was kind of lacking in terms of overall support within itself.” Joseph Stevens, a singer/songwriter and general contractor, thought he could cure that perceived ill with a television show. Hence, SD Music TV, a weekly 30-minute cable program featuring a live performance and interview with a hometown band.
“The local music community seemed like a dog-and-pony show. I wanted it to be more about the love. That’s what I inject into it,” says Stevens, who identifies some of the troubling musicians’ behaviors he sees in clubs for me during our phone conversation. “Musicians don’t stay for each other’s sets. I’d like to blame it on the economy, but I think it’s more a personality-based thing.”
A Chicago native now living in Ocean Beach, Stevens, 38, has in the past showcased such artists as Robin Henkel and Billy Watson, guitarist Roni Lee, Ease Up, Trailerpark Rockstar, and Black Market III. Of the Lakeside trio, he says this: “I’m gonna do a live episode with them. I’m kicking off the new series on January 30 with them at the Ruby Room.”
SD Music TV airs on Time Warner cable channel 19 on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. Presently airing reruns from last year, Stevens started the show in January 2012 as So-Cal Showcase and produced 37 episodes before changing the name.
Stevens began his videographer gig in 2009 at the Cox Cable public access station. “That’s where I cut my teeth, learned the studio equipment, and how to run a crew.” That said, he wears all the hats at SD Music TV. Meaning, he works alone. Stevens is show host, interviewer, cameraman, director, and post-production supervisor. He designs the show posters, and he puts together the band showcases.
“I boiled it down to just me so I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone. I don’t want to have to rely on flaky people.”
Does the show make any money? “None. Zero.” Stevens has been self-funded from day one. “I’ve never had a sponsor.” And, there’s been no venue love, either. “They’re not paying me for the cross-promotion. But,” he says, “it wasn’t supposed to be a money-making thing.” He alludes to outside pressures to take the show to profit, a direction he found distasteful. He is loath to give me details and instead settles on this: “It got ugly. I had to do some rinse and repeat.”
Stevens has been flooded with requests from bands that would like to be on the show. “I do my research. I look at everybody’s submissions. But if they have a big ego and they put off negative energy, I don’t mess with them.”