By Pat Gunther
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Alejandro Rosa-Garcias and his Austin, Texas buddies were at a music festival taking it all in, when Shakey Graves was born. After an encounter with an acid-tripping, nonsensical hippy that blurted out “Spooky Wagons,” Garcia and his buddies returned to their dwelling, continuing the days joke with hypothetical blues inspired names of their own. Later that evening the name Shakey Graves was tossed into the ring and Rosa-Garcias has assumed the alias ever since.
The Austin, Texas native, who has never played Baton Rouge before but expects it to be “badass, like the rest of Louisiana,” is perfectly described by his catchy moniker born out of imagination. “A lot of my inspiration, for the first album, was sorta inspired by feeling trapped in where I lived,” Shakey recounted, “It was kinda just like a big fantasy album, about just hitting the road and getting out of there.”
From then on, Shakey Graves would continue to explore differing sounds and territories as a country-folk musician inspired by eclectic influences that range from George Thorogood and the Destroyers to Wu-Tang Clan and Elliot Smith. These influences, though not overt, are noticeable considering Rosa-Garcias’ natural ability to capture a listener with his detailed story lines, real or imaginary, and twangy, southern guitar inspired finger picking.
The Austin aesthetic, which Rosa-Garcias perfectly captures in each track, played a large role in his inception as a musician. “Even if I write about something that has nothing to do with my life, it’s sorta about characters funneled through my world and through my imagination,” Graves detailed. “Austin used to be really lazy and part country, part hippy, and sorta very Texas and not Texas at-all at the same time.”
If there were any words to describe the sonic world Shakey creates, those about sum it up.
Growing up in Austin, Shakey said, was an incredibly formative experience on his desire and infatuation with music, which started out of heartbroken spite because of an adulterous 12-year-old ex-girlfriend of his. Shakey Graves’ music is many things, but above all, emotional. Reminiscent of a pissed-off Jeff Buckley, Rosa-Garcias’ most impressive work is done in front of a live audience, which Baton Rouge will get to see at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to capture that emotion in the studio,” he said, “I’ve sorta addressed that by not even worrying about it. I get feedback based on the audience at the venue that night and I sing based on that.”
With many fans across the world, whether that is in the United States or Canada and abroad, Rosa-Garcias brings unprecedented energy, tailored to each crowd, night in and night out.
The 2014 release of his live album West of Calgary is the perfect example of his incredible stage-presence. In each perfectly placed track, you can hear the lust and desire for more from the crowd, which Shakey commands like no other. As Shakey Graves continues his incredible ascent in popularity, he only hopes to continue his growth as a singer and songwriter.
“I’m just gonna keep it clean in 2014,” he playfully stated, “Hopefully, I’m just constantly working. Five years from now, I hope to be killing really huge stages. Bruce Springsteen grade shows with all sorts of weird people. I just hope to spread it out.”
With such a unique sound and natural gift for storytelling, there is no doubt that Shakey Graves will continue to craft an awesome, diverse show that leaves fans wanting another piece of his soul that he wears on his sleeve.
When he arrives in Baton Rouge on May 15th, you can bet the farm that Shakey Graves will ensure every single person crammed into the Mud and Water will have an unforgettable experience.
“I want everyone to come in with open minds,” Shakey said, “It’s scary to me, right now, coming up with all these new, different kinds of music. If [the listeners] don’t change, they won’t like the new stuff. I want the crowds to come along on this ride with me.”
Three Shakey Graves tracks to check out before the show
1) “Chinatown” – West Of Calgary: Shakey’s intimate and loveable stage presence shines through on this track, in the form of a solicited horn solo sung by the crowd.
2) “Roll The Bones”- West Of Calgary: The live version of “Roll The Bones” outshines the studio version, as Shakey’s bluesy earnestness is blatantly evident from the get-go.
3) “Georgia Moon”-Roll The Bones: Shakey’s studio version of “Georgia Moon” provides relaxed, distortion-laden vocals in his homage to his favorite commercial-grade moonshine.