Sid Mashburn: Shop owner, menswear guru . . . radio DJ?

Atlanta’s favorite haberdasher dishes on his new radio show, his quest for clean hip-hop, and the song you’ll never hear him spin
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Sid Mashburn
Sid Mashburn

Photograph courtesy of Sid Mashburn

If Sid Mashburn weren’t a menswear designer, he’d want to be a radio DJ. (Or a professional football player, he’d interject.) Well, now he can check off two out of three.

This week, Mashburn debuted his weekly radio show, The Sid Mashburn Radio Hour (WSID), on Atlanta’s AM1690, WMLB. The station, which Mashburn says is his go-to spot on the dial, is known as “the voice of the arts,” playing a variety of styles, from classic rock to folk to classical and old-school country.

“It’s kinda music for everybody, and I love that,” he says. “And we said, Gah, wouldn’t it be cool to have our own radio show on there one day? This was probably seven-plus years ago.”

Music has always been an integral part of the Mashburn brand. Walk into the shop and you’ll always hear James Brown or Bowie crooning over the crackle of old vinyl. Mashburn has a collection of at least 1,000 records at his office, and there are around 200 or 300 in each shop (which has four locations around the country and counting—they are set to open a store in L.A. next month).

Mashburn even has a penchant for hiring the musically inclined. He credits two dapper staffers, Matt Lambert and Jonathan Baker (who moonlight as musicians) with helping with the concept, the songs, and ushering in the deal with the station. Another employee tells us the radio show was Mashburn’s characteristically retro suggestion for a social media strategy.

His first playlist (which debuted Wednesday at 5 p.m. and will air again Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.) leans heavy toward 60s- and 70s- era rock and funk songs, punctuated with Mashburn’s casual musings in his Mississippi accent. He says he’s planning to incorporate more new music.

“I don’t want it to just be like, Oh, it’s an oldies show, just ’cause I’m old, you know?” He cracks up.

“What we’re trying to do is introduce songs to people that they may not know about. We always hope it’s a catalyst for people to then go listen to it themselves and then find more.”

We decided to get more details.

You’re known for a love of analog. Why do you prefer vinyl?
You get a fuller sound from listening to vinyl, and to me it’s warmer and deeper. I would even prefer a record with the scratches to a piece of digitally reproduced music that’s perfect. It’s just kinda the way we like it, the guys in the store and me.

What about the actual recording of the show? How is that going?
You know that feeling when you go up to bat? [Sid loves sports analogies almost as much as he loves a good pair of monkstraps.] You know that feeling where you’re super excited but you’re super nervous? You’re either gonna get a hit or you’re gonna strike out, and you’re pretty exposed. The whole time you’re doing this show, that’s what it feels like. You’re like Ah, I gotta get the record right; am I saying the right thing?; am I pushing the right button?

Where do you buy your records?
We sell records in the store, so that’s one place. Criminal’s good. Fantasyland. And also there’s another one across from the Star Bar, that’s a good record store [Wax ‘n’ Facts]. I went to a record swap a couple of weeks ago over in Avondale Estates—it was super cool. I was the only guy with a tie there. My wife got me some great stuff at a garage sale. You can find fantastic records at estate sales, yard sales, garage sales. It’s like buying thrift clothes. It’s the same kind of fun, except when you get home, you get to play something.

What was the first record you ever got and how old were you?
I got ’em for Christmas in the early seventies—I think I was in the sixth or seventh grade. It was the Doobie Bros The Captain and Me, and probably Elton John, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. But the first 45 I ever bought was actually Billy Preston, Space Race or Will It Go Round in Circles, I can’t remember which. Billy Preston was a keyboard player, he played on some Stones records. He was mostly a session musician. He was super cool. We need to go back and play some Billy Preston now. I remember playing that Billy Preston record over and over and over because I didn’t have but like two records.

What’s the one album you’ve played more than any other throughout your life?
I would have to say—there’s two of ’em. It would be Al Green’s Greatest Hits, and Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything? double album. Also Stevie Wonder, the double album that he had, Songs in the Key of Life. I’ve listened to that a million times too.

Is there anything we would never hear on WSID?
Yeah. “Seasons in the Sun,” by Terry Jacks. It’s probably one of my least favorite songs of all time. I can remember when I first heard it, it was on Casey Kasem Top 40, I think I was like 11, my mother was driving me to choir practice, and I was like “Gosh, this is the wor—,”—no, I’m not gonna say that. I can’t imagine that this song is this popular.

And another thing is, we try to be pretty clean on our music. Which is the tough part of rap. We’re always looking for the clean versions, which are not usually on records. And there are a lot of songs I like that have explicit lyrics, but I don’t like the explicit lyrics.

So you do listen to rap and hip-hop? Like what?
My favorite rap artist is Grandmaster Flash, I love him. Of course I loved Run-D.M.C. And De La Soul. I liked Arrested Development. I liked a little bit of N.W.A. and a little bit of Public Enemy. Oh! LL Cool J! I love “Going Back to Cali.” I mean that’s probably one of my favorites.

What was your first concert?
Three Dog Night. I was eight years old. My sister took me. They had a song that was popular, “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” It was in Jackson. Jackson had decent concerts come through. One of the best concerts I ever went to in Jackson was James Brown at Jackson State. I probably saw him four or five times.

What was most recent show you saw?
Paul Simon at the Fox Theatre, and it was great. There are so many great places to see live music in Atlanta. I love Variety Playhouse—I’m eager to see it redone. The Fox Theatre, good grief. Chastain’s a great place! And then of course, places on the east side, like 529. And Terminal West. I saw Shuggie Otis over there last year. His brother played drums—I play drums, but not well. So of course, I’m checking out the drummer, going, what’s he up to, and I’m looking at the him, and I’m like man, that is wild. The drummer’s got two snares, and no tom. That’s weird, I’ve never seen that before. So I went up to his brother during a break, and I was like, man I love your drumming, but I’ve never seen the double snare. And he’s like, yeah, I forgot my tom. I thought that was so cool that he was just like, whatever, I’m just gonna play! I’m gonna kill it without my tom.

Do you still play? Do you have a drumset?
Yeah. I was in the band in high school, I played drums, but I never had my own set, ever. So Ann, two Christmases ago, asked the guys in the store, and they all told her the perfect drum set to get—Ludwig—and it is the perfect drum set.

Tune in to The Sid Mashburn Radio Hour on AM1690 Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., or catch the shows anytime at www.sidmashburn.com/radio.

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