My wife and I love Shakey Graves. Love. Him.
His music is in constant rotation in our motorhome, no matter whether we're parked or on the move. He fills our ears when we're out for groceries or driving our pooch to the park. After years of listening to him from afar, we finally had the opportunity to catch him live this past November. The show was in San Antonio, Texas. The doors opened 90 minutes before Shakey hit the stage. We were surrounded by people half our age. The concrete pad we were standing on and a chill in the air had everyone there uncomfortable in feet and temperature. Everyone drank $10 mixed drinks and buckets of canned beer in a misguided attempt to stay warm. Some folks partook in left-handed cigarettes. Those people were kicked out. The wife and I re-upped our cups with hooch from the flask I'd snuck past the doormen. She and I discovered that maybe we're getting too old for going to outdoor gigs. She and I agreed that maybe we were even too old to bother with any venue that doesn't come with theater seating. Our feet and knees hurt for a days, afterwards.
But it was totally worth it.
I've seen a lot of performers in my time. I used to be one myself. Some are terrible. Some, like me, are capable but have no presence on stage–ham and eggers looking to make a living. Others are all show and no real talent–they rely on a skilled band and tricks of the trade to sell songs and tickets. On a few rare occasions, you run into a musicians who get it. They play with a style that's immediately recognizable as something unique. Their lyrics catch you and the interplay between them and their audience feels just a little culty without feeling at all creepy. Shakey Graves has that going on. In San Antonio, he came on stage twenty minutes before he was set to start playing. The lighting crew wasn't ready for him. He made it work. With nothing more than a smile, a kick drum built into a frigging suitcase and his guitar, he made us love him more than we already did. The cold, overpriced drinks and the feeling that maybe we were too old to be anywhere near cool enough to be there were all quickly forgotten. It was a great night. He mentioned that he's got a new record coming out this year. His webpage says it'll drop on May 4th (Star Wars Day, if you partake.)
I can't wait.