San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Jungle Jam 2013 brings the beat, dred-locks

Jam band enthusiasts from far and wide descended on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast last weekend for the third annual Jungle Jam music festival. The event was held Jan. 17-20 at Doce Lunas Hotel and various venues around Playa Jacó and Playa Hermosa, and the line up included BK3 with Bill Kreutzmann (of The Grateful Dead), Max Creek, Oteil Burbridge (of the Allman Brothers Band), Zach Deputy, Viral Sound, DJ Matt Carey, Gin & Tonic, and Paul Damon Alford & The Tipsy Chicks.

The festival was designed so that patrons could enjoy Costa Rica during the day and early afternoon, and then dance the night away with the talented musicians. Each of the acts performed multiple times over the four-day event, ensuring that everyone would have the opportunity to see them play at least once.

Fire dancers, hula-hoopers

Festival included fire dancers and hula-hoopers. Photo: Erin Morris

Tico Times caught the talented Zach Deputy twice. We first saw him play at Doce Lunas on Friday night to a high-spirited audience, which included fire dancers and hula-hoopers among a backdrop of tropical trees draped in tie-dye tapestries and psychedelic light shows. The second performance took place during the middle of the day at beachfront Backyard Bar, and the hot sun didn’t stop the audience from getting its groove on. No matter the conditions, it is nearly impossible to sit still while Deputy plays.

Zach Deputy is a one-man band with big, dynamic sound. On stage, he utilizes looping technology, though which he records various sounds – including beat boxing – one by one, synthesizes them, and then plays and sings over the rich mixture. He developed his style while he was growing up along the coast of South Carolina, listening to Calypso, R&B and soul. He calls it “Island-infused, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Gospel-Ninja-Soul.” Deputy told us “I am self-taught and started writing when I was 14 years old.”

Deputy plays in more than 250 shows a year prompting references to him as a “touring powerhouse.” It’s a well-deserved moniker, considering that he has been on tour almost full time for four and a half years. There might be some R&R in his near future, though. When asked about future plans, Deputy said, “I am going on a bit of a hiatus this year, I want to take it easy.”

There were a few hiccups in the Hermosa show in which the equipment stopped working and some adjustments needed to be made, causing Deputy to have to start over. He seemed amused by this. “It was so hot, I had to ice my board. We had to ice the equipment!” he said. Deputy seemingly had absorbed some pura vida. When asked what he thinks about the country, he replied “I love Costa Rica! I think the people are nice, it’s absolutely gorgeous. There is really never any pressure.”

It’s a surprising statement from someone who has never been outside of Jacó. Zack Deputy: after your hiatus, please play the rest of Costa Rica.

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