Deputy, who lives in Savannah, only plays his home region once or twice a year now. He spends the majority of his time touring. He will team with Ben Lewis & The Kind Dub for a show Dec. 17 at Southbound Brewing Co.
After years of building an audience in the area, playing his own, unique one-man brand of rock ’n’ roll — a mix of jam band, soul, R&B, gospel and blues — Deputy began touring the country and found it a little easier to build a base outside of his hometown.
“To be honest, Savannah is not the greatest music scene in the world,” Deputy said. “I remember the first time I went to the Northeast. I played a festival. About the time I came back a second time, I’d already started drawing bigger crowds than I worked up in Savannah/Hilton Head area for like five or six years. It’s all about the clubs (in Savannah). It’s all about rap music. It’s all about country music. It’s very segregated I think, musically.”
Arguably, the scene in Savannah has changed drastically since Deputy first started. Over the past three years, you could easily find just about every genre of live music, mostly original, in the bars and clubs in Savannah.
Deputy is, however, excited to play a live show in his hometown.
“I am stoked about that show (at Southbound),” Deputy said. “Should be fun. I’ve played many breweries so it’s not that different for me. It’s different for Savannah. Savannah was kind of running out of places that sell tickets for national artists. It opened up a window to do something different.”
After a bass player missed a gig early in Deputy’s career, he began looping his own music to create a fuller sound. He’s honed the one-man band, looping style into a wildly artistic craft. He does occasionally play with a full band, and both styles have drawbacks and advantages.
“Both of them are free and both are limiting in different ways,” Deputy said. “For me, I like them both. I like the inspiration of just letting it come; from what’s in me out to the world. I also like having a band and being inspired by other players and move in directions I wouldn’t expect because someone else went there. I like both.”
For the Southbound show, Deputy will play with “just me and my big ol’ brain,” he said.
Music for Deputy is more than just a job, however. He has strived over his career to present his most authentic self artistically. In the early days, as he was hashing out a career, he would even lie to talent buyers in order to get on stage.
“They would say, ‘Yeah, you can play here, but you have to play 80 percent covers,’” Deputy said. “I’d be like OK. I’d go in and do my thing, and hope they liked it so much they wouldn’t fire me. Usually, they liked it so much they wouldn’t fire me. It took a long time and a lot of fighting to be able to be an independent and original artist in Hilton Head and the Savannah area.”
Deputy took that concept to its peak with his latest record, “Wash In The Water.” For the first time on a record, he played every single instrument. He also released a second full album in 2016, “Zach Deputy and the Hashtags,” with his band.
“My career. My style. Everything is just left field,” Deputy said. “I didn’t choose someone else’s path. I kind of made my own. I think it’s the only way to be a true artist. If you’re following in someone else’s path or someone’s footsteps, you’re a businessman, you’re not an artist.
“When you’re a true artist, you don’t know if you’re going to crash and burn, if you’re going to reach the top of the pinnacle. Because you’re doing what you like. You’re not doing what’s successful or what you know people like. You’re just focusing on your art and your integrity and letting everything else fall where it does.”
IF YOU GO
What: Zach Deputy and Ben Lewis & The Kind Dub
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 17
Where: Southbound Brewing Co., 107 E. Lathrop Ave.
Cost: $35 in advance, $40 at the door