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Live & Local with DJ Roger Riddle

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There’s a saying in Macon that if you’ve ever lived here, you’re destined to return.  In part, this may come from a legend involving the Creek Nation’s curse on Macon that if you settle on the banks of the Ocmulgee River you will never leave. DJ Roger Riddle, a former Maconite relocated to Akron, Ohio a couple of years ago, working on a series of podcasts about Akron’s entrepreneurs and is also helping put together a local music festival where residential porches become the venues. Although Riddle isn’t moving back to Macon, he will be DJing a show at The Thirsty Turtle May 5, sure to be fueled with Motown tunes to Dolly Parton and a barrage of his longtime Macon fans dancing the night away. I spoke with Riddle about DJing, Macon’s music scene, and finding a rare vinyl.

Why did you start DJing?
I actually started djing because I was a record collector.  I moved to Georgia in ’98 and I was working for Brown & Williamson tobacco company. I think I was with them for four years. I did two different stints with them. At the end of the second time around I was like, I can’t sit in a cubicle for the rest of my life. I had always heard, if you think about what you most want  to do on a day to day basis, figure out how to make money doing that. If I had all of the money I needed and all my bills were paid, I would just listen to records.  How do I make a living out of listening to records?  I could be a DJ. It was very naive of me to think that I could make a living being a DJ. But I was young and dumb and probably drunk [laughs]. It seemed reasonable at the time and so I decided to do it.

Were you nervous?
I don’t remember. I’ve always felt this way in that I’m a little nervous.  I’m never terrified, I’m never one of those people who get stage fright.  But I’m a little nervous about getting started. And it takes me my first three songs. Once I get past the third song I’m incredibly comfortable and can make it happen. If I think the show is going to be great or bad, after the third record I’m settled in and I’m kinda like well we’ll make the best of it. But my first time I don’t really remember at all. I remember that era of Poetic Peace as a whole. It was great warm memory of a time when downtown Macon coming alive was just being discovered. Around that same time there was Trio, which is now The Hummingbird and there was Liz Reeds when it was in it’s punk rock and heavy metal phase. And people were just starting to realize that there were fun and interesting out of the ordinary things to do in downtown.  I just remember the people I was hanging out with were experimenting with what life in downtown Macon was like.

What’s your favorite vinyl right now?
I have a Jack McDuff record, Moon Rappin‘ that I was in love with for years. I was in Memphis and went into a record store. I loved a particular song called “Oblighetto.”  Went into this record store and saw it.  I had never seen it before so I bought it. The weird thing was that for years after I got it, I would pull it out and only play that one song and never played the rest of the album.  One day I was like, I wonder what’s on the other side of this and put it on.  There’s this Motown record,  The Marvelettes, Sophisticated Soul.  And there’s a song on there called “You’re the One for Me Bobby.” It was an album towards the end of their career and there were no big hits on it.  There weren’t as many copies of the album pressed. This one particular song came to my attention but I could never find it. . . One day, within the last year, there were tons of copies in the United States and they were all selling them for 5 or 6 bucks. So I ended up with two copies of it and it was one of the happiest days of my life to run across this album.            

What do you think the Akron music scene can teach us Maconties?
I think there’s a lot to be learned from just about any local music scene that you check out.  Let me say this before I get into, but I also think Akron can learn from Macon’s music scene. But from Macon looking at Akron’s music scene there is an appreciation for local music. It’s slow building but people do share a lot of local music. . . By all means I’m not an expert on Akron’s music scene. I’ve talked to some of the Akron musicians, and they all kind of agree. It’s really disjointed. Everyone’s somewhat within their own bubble. One of the things that I always loved and admired about Macon’s music scene is that everyone was really close knit. Everyone was really good friends and people would put on incredible shows that drew on many different types of genres.  You could go to a show and see three or four different bands that almost seemingly had nothing in common other than the fact that they were all friends and enjoyed each other’s music. I think anywhere you go if you can find a music scene that’s got something bubbling, there’s something to be taken back to your city and added to the mix.

Catch DJ Roger Riddle @ The Thirsty Turtle May 5, 6pm in celebration of Jeff Payne’s birthday!

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