Jared Michael Hobgood has his finger on the pulse of life . . . (JMH's music) is filled with people falling in love, falling out of love, and falling everywhere in between.
Fast Eddie - Key West Citizen
Jared Michael Hobgood truly is the "hardest working man in Key West." His live shows are like a hurricane of humor, Guinness, and music. His style ranges from a laid-back, under the palm tree storyteller to a raging bull of in -your-face wit.
Robert Mckenzie - Tradewinds Music Journal
Jimmy Buffet - Overheard on Duval
Jared Michael Hobgood:
Introducing Caribbean Country Rock
To Music Row and Radio
By PHIL SWEETLAND
New York Times Music+Radio contributor
NASHVILLE – He loves the water like the Beach Boys, looks a little like a tattooed Matthew McConaughey, and writes and sings music that fuses the laid-back Coral Reefer feel of Jimmy Buffett, the warmth and honesty of country, the comedy of Rodney Dangerfield, and the edginess of hip-hop.
All along the way, Jared Michael Hobgood has become a club sensation from his home base of Key West to Europe, Hawaii, and Thailand, and all ports of call in between.
“I enjoy country, but I call my music Caribbean Country Rock,” JMH says in a phone conversation from South Florida, just after he has spent one of his rare afternoons off from club work enjoying the warm waters of South Florida. “You can’t really pigeonhole my music.”
So at a time when so many of his competitors at radio and on tour are bland and homogenized with little creativity or soul, Jared’s in-your-face songs like the bittersweet “Don’t End Up Like Me,” the fascinating “My Life,” and the hilarious story song “Shalom Motherf---er,” show a musical personality, fusion, and a fearlessness and relentless creativity rarely seen or heard anymore.
He’s the son and the younger brother of very successful lawyers, and though he never completed law school himself Jared is one of very, very few artists today who drafts all his own contracts for booking, recording, and touring.
“I think Dad was really excited when I decided not to be a lawyer,” he says, smiling. “Then he kind of worked on Mom a little bit. The character I play on stage is kind of a super-extreme version of me, and I try and mix in topical material whenever I can, which lately includes a little bit of Charlie Sheen.”
Jared, who was once listed in the Key West phone directory as “Sweet Domino Johnson,” is one of the minute number of wannabe comics or comic singers who are truly, truly hilarious. Perhaps it has something to do with his background.
“I went to the University of Michigan, and after my first year I seriously considered being a priest,” he recalls. “But instead of entering the seminary, I moved overseas.”
That took him to Asia and Europe, where he tried acting and stand-up for a while, and found an ideal niche at playing and singing in clubs. His skill at languages was also a huge help.
JMH returned to the States and law school in Florida. He and a buddy walked into an Irish bar one day in Key West, and the owner offered Jared a job performing. JMH declined, since he was in the middle of finals, but the owner said to come back.
When JMH did so and tried out, the boss was knocked out and quickly offered him a 6-month gig. Law school was no longer a priority. Key West was home, and it’s been that way since.
“I love the weather down here. Unless I’m snowboarding I hate the cold, so I do a lot of spearfishing and paddleboarding, and I try to go to Hawaii at least once a year,” he says. “I’m always in the water. Another reason I love Key West is that it’s a very `Anything Goes’ kind of place. Everybody gets along.”
One recent and very exciting development in Hobgood’s musical career is that Nashville has discovered him. Each year, many top Music Row songwriters come to his hometown for the Key West Songwriters Festival. This May, for the first time, JMH was invited to perform there himself – courtesy of BMI Nashville.
“That was my first time there, and I really had an amazing time,” he says. “I enjoy country music. But I play a little more Caribbean-style music, and it was a nice change. I’ve been adding a lot more country to my show, and the next album is gonna sound q uite a bit more country.”
Some of Nashville’s top tunesmiths and executives came to Jared’s shows, and dropped off cards and CDs. Word was getting around, and it hasn’t stopped yet.
“I’m all for that, for anything that will help further my career,” JMH says.
Few Americans as a whole, and very few American musicians in any genre, travel well overseas and have music that translates well regardless of language. JMH has already amassed huge experience – and sizable fan bases – in crucial cities and markets very few other American acts have ever set foot in.
For instance, he’s played several summers in the famed French resort of St. Tropez.
“It was like a high-end Key West,” he says.
And in the wild world of Thailand clubs, JMH has been a beloved American performer for years.
His musical influences are diverse as his own writing and performing.
“I’ve always loved Jimmy Buffett’s music,” Jared says. “His house is a stone’s throw from mine. I love to travel, and Jimmy’s always writing about travel. But I really also enjoy Kid Rock, and the way he’s been able to fuse hip-hop with country and all of those genres in the same song.”
That’s the same sort of excitement fans and radio will get when they listen to Jared Michael Hobgood songs and see his show.
May 16, 2011
Phil Sweetland - New York Times Contributor (May 16, 2011)