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Rocking out with Roquemore
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Hometown boy John Roquemore will be the opening act performing Nov. 2 at The Green Getaway at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Conference Center in Mansfield.

The concert and event is this year's Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful Annual Fundraiser for educational programs.

A long time environmental advocate, Roquemore said he was excited to perform for such a worthy cause. Roquemore described his music as eccentric bluegrass.

"But my stuff is pretty quirky," he said. "One of my influences was Doctor Demento. He is a real tweakhead. The stuff that he plays is more offbeat and quirky and unusual. There are certain boundaries I don't seem to stay within because I feel that as a musician you want to cross boundaries, to go places people are not expecting you to go."

Though originally from the area, Roquemore has been a man of the world most of his life. When he left Georgia for California in 1972, he thought he would never return, at least not on a permanent basis.

"My girlfriend and I just hitchhiked out," Roquemore said. "We got on I-85 and went up to Ohio and went across from up there."

Roquemore would later settle down in Malibu where he and his wife boarded and trained horses.

 "Most of the people that we had were in the media industry," Roquemore said. "The nice thing about that was that they would never come out. They were always out on some shoot or something. We determined that a lot of those people paid close to $800 a ride because they paid us by the month to keep their horses and exercise them and then they would come out and take one ride because it was prestigious for them to be able to say, 'Well we have horses in Malibu.'"

For almost 30-years Roquemore enjoyed west coast living, but the failing health of his father brought him back to Georgia for weeks at a time. On one of the these trips in 2002, Roquemore asked his wife to join him so she could get some ideas for the house they were about to build in Malibu.

After just a day at his father's home, Vicki, a California native, told Roquemore she wanted to stay in Georgia. So instead of trying to bring a little piece of Georgia back with them to California, the Roquemores brought a little California to Georgia.

A quick walkthrough of the Roquemores' home reveals several family relics restored to pristine quality. From pictures of long-dead relatives to his mother's sewing machine, the Roquemores' home is almost a monument to the family tree.

Roquemore did bring a few items back from his previous life in Malibu, including a Chumash Indian bowl and grinder found in a flooded river in California.

"We brought it with us because it was a gift," Roquemore said. "It was one of those cosmic gifts. We did a lot of volunteer work to help keep development low where we were."

Despite their extreme differences in geographical locations, Roquemore said Malibu and Newton County were very similar in their rapid growth and development.

"It was just like here in Newton County," Roquemore said. "We were at a spot where a wave of people were coming out of Los Angeles to where we were and they were so rich, they could buy their way to anything."

It is clear Roquemore is man more at home in nature than in the hustle and bustle of city life. His lives on the remnants of a 500-acre lot his ancestors were awarded after the Civil War. As a seventh and last generation Roquemore, he and his wife spend most of their free time keeping their own horses now. He leaves the hay farming up to a neighboring farmer.

Still, he frets about the toll the draught has taken on his land.

"It hurts the trees," Roquemore said. "You can see the trees dieing and the ground dieing. The suffering of the trees is a sad thing to see."

When he's not out walking his fields, Roquemore can be found picking one of his several guitars in his barn recording studio.