The Beauty of Shakey Graves Day
On February 9th, follow the city of Austin’s lead and gives thanks for Alejandro Rose-Garcia, the world’s shakiest one-man-wonder.
By John Miles, Sante Fe College
It’s already February, and we all know what special holiday February brings: That’s right, folks, Shakey Graves Day is right around the corner.
Sure, the holiday hasn’t been made official by the United States president yet, but ever since it was technically sorta created by the mayor of Austin, Texas, Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) has made the holiday his own. The music world is starting to catch on to why we should all be celebrating Shakey Graves Day. The hype train is a-comin through, and you’d best not miss it.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, the blues/folk/rock ‘n roll artist who goes by the name Shakey Graves has gone from the “one-man-band/possible homeless guy,” to being named Starbucks Pick of the Week for his song “Dearly Departed” with Esme Patterson. Last month he was even featured on Bob Boilen’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. In addition, he has made appearances on both Conan and The Late Show with David Letterman, (though both performances have, for some reason, been made unavailable for viewing online).
Watching a Shakey Graves performance is a bit like watching the stock market. In a flash, his music will go from luring you into a deep and inescapable sleep, to making you want to give yourself a headbanging-induced concussion. He has mastered the extremes of music—the highs and lows, the raises and the crashes. You will always be on your toes wondering what he will do next. If you think you might have an idea of where he’s going with a song, here’s a spoiler alert—you don’t. (He might not either.)
The dynamic of a Shakey Graves song in many ways mirrors the career of Alejandro Rose-Garcia. In addition to being a musician, he is also a stage and film actor, having appearances in productions like “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” “Friday Night Lights” and most recently, “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.” He will tell you that his whole life has revolved around some kind of stage, be it the Austin High School Auditorium, the “NPR Tiny Desk” stage or an Austin street corner.
There is a pretty decent chance that sometime in the near or distant future, his acting career may take off alongside his music career, in a similar fashion to Johnny Flynn, Alejandro’s British counterpart who recently starred alongside Anne Hathaway in the romantic drama “Song One.”
Shakey’s most recent role in “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For,” while definitely a minor role, cast him alongside the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and even world-renowned actress Lady Gaga.
Perhaps due in part to his experience as an actor, the non-musical portions of a Shakey Graves show are often some of the most entertaining moments. If there is one thing he’s got down, it’s stage banter.
For his appearance on KEXP, he began the show with, “I’m going to play some smooth, eclectic music to ease you into your hopefully drunken afternoon.” Even though he was just pulling our tails, “eclectic” is one of the few words available to accurately describe the man (perhaps in addition to “drunken” and “smooth”).
It’s the eclectic-ness, the unpredictability and the humor of Shakey Graves that are the driving forces behind what has become an incredibly diverse fan base. He has the peculiarity needed to attract the hipster crowd; he has the dirt-and-sweat charisma needed to attract the remains of Outlaw Country fans, and he even has the utter coolness and bad-assery required to pull in the fraternity types.
Lovers of both old music and new music find common ground in the music of Shakey Graves. You might say that he’s the popular kid in high school that everyone is downright jealous of. You may find yourself digging for some kind of reason not to like him, but you probably won’t find anything.
Hopefully you’re able to at least partially understand why, of all the February holidays (Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Groundhog Day, etc.), none are quite so vital to the general functioning of society as Shakey Graves Day is.
Next Tuesday (February 9th), not only do we have the opportunity to celebrate the incredible music and epic stage gymnastics of Shakey Graves, but also, Shakey will be opening up his music for purchase online, under a “pay-what-you-want” system which is, in other words, free.
It is, admittedly, one of the cleverest ways of attracting publicity that the world of internet-distributed music has seen thus far. Rumor has it that when Shakey Graves Day was first established in 2012, Shakey celebrated the occurrence with a game of laser tag and drinking. Now, with the participation of his fan-base, he’ll be able to celebrate the day with a sizable and well-earned paycheck.
What Shakey Graves proves to the music world is that if you’re 1) good at what you do, and 2) really really ridiculously likeable, people will naturally flock to your music and support you in whatever way they can.
2016 is shaping up to be a big year for Shakey Graves. After touring Europe for the first time in April, he will play a series of American dates in May that includes a stop at the iconic “Red Rocks Amphitheatre.” After that, he will be embarking on a summer arena tour in Canada, opening for City and Colour.
He has also begun working on a new album, for which a timeframe has not been publicly announced. It is without a doubt, in terms of establishing a new audience, his largest stretch of touring yet, and if he passes through your town, you would be doing yourself a great disservice not to go and see him.