Cocoa Beach native Matt Riley talks music, family & persevering

Cocoa Beach native Matt Riley talks music, family & persevering

Cocoa Beach, Florida is a haven for dedicated musicians — Matt Riley being one of them. This singer-songwriter has been playing for many years, as well as a dedicated father, and someone to be inspired by. This beach reggae rocker sings all types of genres, writes his own songs as well playing everything from acoustic, rock, and ‘beach-y’ style music for those music lovers out there that just want a nice relaxing day or dance the night away!

I got to sit down with a good friend of mine to discuss music, family and persevering — no matter the obstacles.

When did you start playing music?

  • I got my start for a church praise band around 19 years old. I started playing in Cocoa Village every Wednesday at a Coffee Bar, and all my friends started coming out. I made $25 a show, and it really got me stoked to start doing music. I played a lot of covers, and the older musicians would encourage me to play my originals. I recorded my first album and it just kept going from there.

How long have you been playing music?

  • Professionally for about 24 years. A lot of demanding work, and some emotional musical moments.

Tell us a crazy story in your music life!

  • I played with a band for 6 years called, On Hiatus, and my bass player was singing a crazy inappropriate song about a girl he knew in high school. Some guy in the crowd thought he was singing about the girl he was dating, and shortly after charged the stage and tackled me. I still use that guitar lmao! Another show in St. Augustine, Florida, and a wedding party and an Australian football team was there. I played “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, and the owner of the bar poured everyone a shot and a beer. I made a ton of money that night! It was a special night.

Any recent music coming up?

  • I have been writing a kid’s album for 8 years. The funny thing is, I hardly have time to do it because I am raising my own kids!

I know you are a busy dad, husband, and teacher. How do you juggle it all?

  • I have an amazing wife, Jessica, who is an incredible supporter of my passion for music! She works so hard for our family! It is hard when both of us work full time and have 3 kiddos. However, I get to play music on the side, wear no shoes, and make extra money for my family, and at the same time enjoy myself playing music! I am incredibly grateful!

Where is your fave place to perform?

  • Hands down, Slow & Low BBQ in Cocoa Beach, Florida! I have had residency every Thursday for the last 13 years. My brother was a dishwasher there and told me about the gig. I am still there and love it!

Who is in your ear buds lately?

  • Dirty Heads all the way! They have been my wife and I’s favorite band since we first saw them by accident 10 years ago! We have seen them about 15 times and took all 3 kids to see them last month! Other highlights… Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans!! I also love Miley Cyrus.

Any words of inspiration to those that want to continue their love for music, and juggle family life and their careers?

  • The advice I have for anyone wanting to live a life of music is; the shit will be hard, you will have late nights, bad diets, temptation for immoral behavior, long hours for less money than you deserve. However, those moments when the crowd, no matter how big or small, are with you right there, with your energy and passion will be worth all the trouble! Stay with it, Rock Star!

Thank you, Matt, you truly defined why we are all a part of the thing we call music!

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