When I first caught Ketchy Shuby live in 2011, opening for Surfer Blood and the Spam Allstars, my eyes pulsed and my ears dilated. I remember looking around, just kind of being like, "These guys are maybe really good?!" It was a DWNTWN Concert Series on Biscayne Bay, and though the sun was shining and the crowd subdued, there was something about this band that called its sound "downtown soul." It jammed the stage full of some otherworldly energy that surprised, impressed, and funked.
At the time, frontman Jason Joshua Hernandez-Rodriguez had a ridiculously voluminous afro, but even with all that look, he seemed sort of inconspicuous until he opened his mouth and he became a superstar. The group's popularity has steadily grown since, with cool gigs at like Calle Ocho, Spin's 2013 South by Southwest showcase, and Radio-Active Records' Record Store Day.
The band recently linked up with Lake Worth artist and videographer Jacques de Beaufort to collaborate on a new video project, Unit 1 Sessions. The series records local musicians at de Beaufort's home/gallery, Unit 1. Before they met on set, the artist hadn't even heard of the band. But after experiencing them live, he admitted in an interview last week, de Beaufort is now a megafan. His mom even crushes on the singer.
De Beaufort directs and produces each video with sound by Reel Tone Recordings and help from many other local scene stalwarts. Alongside acts like Sweet Bronco and Mykal Morrison, Ketchy Shuby brings a slew of soul to these recordings. This first released video in the series, "Key Elements of Life," is absolutely moving.
It starts out funky with a little refreshing flute to cleanse the palate. It's got a relatively lengthy buildup for a pop song, but it's worth the jam. Hernandez-Rodriguez's vocals slam suddenly, an emotional sucker punch, and the soul in the sound deepens and expands.
You're going to love it.
Stay tuned to County Grind for more impressive local acts displaying their chops at Unit 1. We'll be showcasing them throughout the summer.
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