Miami was once such a soul music mecca that it could rival Motown. This was thanks to classic local labels like Henry Stone's Deep City Records and legendary recording artists like Clarence "Blowfly" Reid, Betty Wright, and the Moovers. Of course, our local melting pot of both Caribbean and American Southern musical influences made for a special homebrewed soul flavor unique to our neck of the woods.
Now while the golden era of Miami soul might be long gone, it's certainly not forgotten by stylistic heirs Ketchy Shuby. For years, these local indie favorites have kept Miami soul alive to the rhythm of their own modern, vibrant beat.
Miami soul is "the bright lights, with the grind and hustle mentality, with integrity and heart," Ketchy Shuby frontman and singer, Jason Hernandez-Rodriguez, told Crossfade back in 2013. "Miami has a huge chunk of history that without it, hip-hop, R&B and soul music would be greatly affected by it."
Ahead of Thursday's Ketchy Shuby show at Bardot, we here at Crossfade caught up with Hernandez-Rodriguez to hear about some of the classic, essential Miami soul records that have most inspired the band's sound.
Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman"
"What can we say about this song that hasn't been said. First time I heard this song (or lick, better yet) was in '92, sampled by Mary J Blige in the 'Real Love' remix which featured Notorious B.I.G. -- Puff Daddy was the remixer who used the sample. I remember just hearing the guitars and being like 'those guitars are mad tropical.'
"Of course, as we got older, we did our homework and learned about Betty Wright and the legendary Clarence Reid (now known as Blowfly) and Willie Clarke. This song will always be a classic, and has helped catapult artists and producers to dig and sample Miami soul."
Helene Smith's "True Love Don't Grow On Trees"
"This is Helene -- she is the first and only queen of soul. I first heard this song in a flea market in Opa-locka and I was blown away. I wish they had Shazam at that time, because the guy couldn't even tell me who it was. Also before Google, it was Yahoo, and it took a lot of entering the lyrics and adding 'soul' and 'vintage' and other goofy terminologies to find it, but eventually I did.
"I read somewhere that she recorded over 30 songs between '66-'69. She's a legend and always has a deep spot in our heart for genuine lyrics and voice. She's a teacher now and still lives in Dade County."
Little Beaver's "Party Down 1"
"So this here is my shit. This is Miami's [Marvin Gaye classic] 'Got To Give It Up,' and unlike 'Got To Give It Up' this has that Miami breeze flowing through the track with the jazz guitar just oozing in and out of the track. So good.
"My best friend Rachel Goodrich put me on to this track a couple years ago, and I've been a huge fan of Little Beaver since. Little Beaver has this distinct yelp when he screams -- so good. 'Do Right Man' and 'Funkadelic Sound' are classic Miami grooves you can hear in other groups, including us."
The Moovers' "One Little Dance"
"The Moovers (or The Prolifics or Living Proof -- they changed their name throughout the years). Ah, so much feels and vibes. These guys had Johnny Pearsall and Willie Clarke writing and producing their jams for Deep City Records, which they owned, and also was Miami's first black-owned independent record label. 'One Little Dance' is a personal jam for me because the lyrics are descriptive and somber for an upbeat song -- so good."
Clarence Reid's "But You Babe"
"Ah, this is the top of the top of the top right here: Clarence mothafuckin' Reid -- the hardest guy in Miami. So much to say about this guy right here. I love him so much, and we love his music as a band.
"I met him twice -- once in the studios of WDNA, where I used to randomly show up and borrow jazz and soul records from them. DJ Manuvers and Sire had their own radio show there called the Sunday Coolout. They always pushed the limit to bring out artists and play soul music or anything with groove that the other DJs weren't playing or had the balls to play.
"One day they brought this man named Blowfly, which at that time I had no fucking idea Blowfly was Clarence Reid. They were like 'Jay, you gotta meet this guy!' So I met Blowfly, and he started rapping nonsense about the smell of pussies and dicks and I thought he was a genius. But after a while of him talking like his Blowfly character, it was just Clarence. And he was talking to me about my band and music, and his story.
"I was blown away. I realized he was Clarence Reid! He said the nicest thing that I don't think anyone can ever match to me -- he said, 'boy, you have such a beautiful smile -- don't be afraid to smile,' which touched me, since I personally think my teeth and smile are jacked up. But since then, I've ran into him at the Miami Jai-Alai and I think he's a tender soul. I would love for Ketchy to back him just once as Clarence Reid and not as Blowfly."
Spam Allstars' "Ochimini"
"So this is not soul -- it's not even in English. [Laughs] But does this band have more soul than ever. It's so imperative to mention Andrew Yeomanson and his band of gypsies. Andrew has always been a big mentor to Ketchy Shuby and Fusik, and he's taught us so much about the soul sound, and just music in general.
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"He's a genius, and a mad scientist, and he's an originator of that sound. 808 Latin-derived Carribean with the Santero chants -- so much groove and feels. I love him, and everyone in my band and crew loves and respects him as well. I don't get to spend that much time with him these days, but the little that I have has changed me indefinitely."
Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes with Ketchy Shuby. Thursday, August 7. Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $15 plus fees.
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