Jason Joshua Hernandez Rodriguez is more than a man with four names. But for a while, the lead guitarist and vocalist for Miami-based seven-piece powerhouse Ketchy Shuby never felt that his band fit well into any one genre. A random encounter, though, ended up defining the act's sound.
"This weird lady came up to me and said she liked our 'downtown soul,'" Rodriguez says. "I just loved that and asked her if we could use it. She said it was ours. Since we've developed our own genre, we are free to play and write the music that we want."
In a few words, Ketchy Shuby's sound is a vibey mix of reggae, soul, and live energy.
With five vocalists, horns, percussion, bass, keys, the occasional flute, and a passion for energizing the audience, Ketchy Shuby puts on quite the memorable performance. All members were born and bred in Miami, which has provided them with their fair share of wild nights. Rodriguez sums it up: "My life is different because of this city -- I can't go to sleep before 4 a.m. if I tried. It gets a little crazy, but it's the Miami life."
Asked if he's proud to be part of the South Florida music scene, Rodriguez responds: "There are good bands all over the country, but South Florida is in the corner; we are in our own world, and we have our own pride. To go on tour, it takes $200 in gas just to get out of the state. Our music scene is mad strong. Everyone is talented; everyone supports each other. We are conditioned to drive and hustle hard."
The scene has been on the rise in recent years, and social media and new technologies that allow bands to reach a wider audience with less effort have facilitated that growth. "With technology, you can literally record a whole album on your computer or phone," Rodriguez says. "Our favorites, like Otis Redding and Led Zeppelin, could put out two records a year, and now Ketchy Shuby can continue in that tradition."
And presumably expand upon it. "We have been able to shoot our own videos and record our own music, edit it, produce it, mix it," he says. "Technology makes it all ten times easier."
As a result, Ketchy Shuby has released four full-length albums and a few EPs since its start in 2009. This includes the latest, Downtown Soul Record Singles Club, a cover album that allows the band to put its personal spin on modern classics such as Nirvana's "Come as You Are."
Ketchy Shuby performs at the inaugural Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival, set to fill downtown West Palm Beach on July 28 with local craft brews. Rodriguez says that while he enjoys the classic taste of PBR in a can, fellow Ketchy Shuby-ers drummer Andres Sanchez and Robert Haffe Smiley, who rocks the sax and flute, are such craft-beer fanatics that they brew their own. Named Downtown Soul Brew, Smiley and Sanchez created a strong maple bacon beer that was even once featured at a listening party for Edward Sharpe. Pretty fancy for Miami hops.
Although Downtown Soul Brew will not be among the many local beers dispensed at the festival, Ketchy Shuby will bring to the stage some flavorful downtown soul that will definitely be worth a tasting.
Ketchy Shuby, the Resolvers, Guy Harvey, and others, from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival, Meyer Amphitheatre, 104 Datura St., West Palm Beach. Visit pbcraftbeerfestival.com.