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As a kid growing up in Deming, Trevor Hodgkins found a magic box in his grandparents’ Winnebago. It was an 8-track tape player.
“I’d click it over to channel 2, and there it was: Johnny Cash, ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky,’” Hodgkins said. “Hearing that CLACHUNK when jumping to another track was a real audible delight for me.”
On drives from Deming to Las Cruces, he subconsciously absorbed the country music playing on his parents’ AM radio. But what music did he first get when old enough to buy his own?
“It was in junior high, Def Leppard. ‘Pyromania,’” Hodgkins said.
A few years later, as a student at New Mexico State University, his music interests took a turn.
“I was looking at my roommate’s CD collection, which had the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, a bunch of jazz, and immediately started making fun of it,” he said.
Instead of getting defensive, the roommate played Hodgkins a tune: “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
“Oh, no,” Hodgkins said. “This is cool!”
The roommate suggested taking NMSU’s Introduction to Jazz class, taught by tuba player Jim Shearer, who “played music I’d never heard, and he was so passionate about everything.”
During college, Hodgkins worked as a server at Red Lobster and, driving home after shifts, he discovered “Burnsland,” a jazz show on KRWG-FM hosted by Las Cruces musician Bob Burns.
“He was so fantastic,” Hodgkins said. “When I found out he was a local guy I couldn’t believe it. I figured he was a national guy from the NPR mothership. Like Shearer, he was also so passionate. It got to the point that any money I’d made waiting tables I’d immediately blow it at Hastings (the now-defunct music and video store) buying CDs, especially John Coltrane and Charles Mingus.”
Hodgkins’ own growing passion led to doing a special on KRWG-FM, a show outlining the intersecting careers of Mingus and Duke Ellington. And by summer 2013, Hodgkins had his own shows, the Friday Night Blues Show and the Saturday Night Jazz Show — “incredibly creative names.” A year and a half later, Hodgkins gave them names more fitting to the Mesilla Valley. “Dry River Blues” and “Dry River Jazz” were born.
Now, though, after seven years, Hodgkins has finished his dry river run. The host airs his last programs June 26 and 27.
You can catch the final Dry River Blues from 9 p.m.-midnight, Friday on KRWG-FM, 90.7, and the final Dry River Jazz 8 p.m.-midnight Saturday. A lover of all music genres, Hodgkins, as always, will sneak some jazz on blues night and some blues on jazz night.
I discovered Hodgkins’ shows fairly early in his run, but didn’t listen consistently until the last year, especially since the Coronavirus shut down the weekend social and sporting events.
Hodgkins regularly plays many of my favorites, including Howlin’ Wolf, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Mingus, Elmore James, Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Mississippi John Hurt and so many more.
He has a great knack for finding connections between artists and musical styles. On one show, he even found a way to work in a deep track from the great country musician and songwriter Roger Miller: “My Uncle Used to Love Me but She Died.”
Hodgkins has one of those great radio voices – deep, clear and resonant. He also brings a great energy, enthusiasm and humor to the shows, so much so that when he tells you he was a theater major at NMSU, you are not surprised.
As so many things do, though, the Dry River has “run its course,” Hodgkins said.
He and his wife, Kris, have two small children, age three and five, and he has a full-time job as a regional vice president for Highland Capital Brokerage, selling annuities from his home office.
“It’s definitely been a labor of love, but working 40 hours a week on the phone and the computer all day, then eating dinner with the family, putting the kids to bed, kissing my wife goodbye then going to the station — I just needed a break.”
KRWG-FM General Manager Adrian Velarde encouraged Hodgkins to record the show from home.
“That was very cool of him to let me do that, and I gave it a good go for a while,” Hodgkins said. But it still took time and a toll. He was ready.
“I had a great time for a long time.”
So did your listeners, Trevor.