Shakey Graves is the stage name of Texas-based ‘hobo folk’ singer/songwriter and musician Alejandro Rose-Garcia.
It was something he came up with when he was a little drunk, and it kind of stuck. ‘There was a thing in America when I was a little kid: you would do a camp-out like you and your father, like the boy scouts but a quasi-racist version called Indian Guide. I never did it but I had friends who did it. You choose a name or you get given one; I named myself Shakey Graves at a music festival and carried a guitar around introducing myself to people like that. It was weird because it kind of stuck.’
A teen actor, Rose-Garcia appeared in several movies including Shorts, Material Girls and Spy Kids 3.
‘I grew up acting; it’s something I adore doing,’ says Rose- Garcia, who grew up with a family ethos that encouraged him to follow his heart. ‘I didn’t get into either of them (music or acting) for money. It’s nice to eat food and be appreciated for your work, but that is secondary to passion. If I were flipping burgers I would still be playing music, or acting!’
Unlike most people’s parents, Rose-Garcia’s encouraged authenticity rather than hard economics.
‘They have always been creative magic-bean people who make something out of nothing. You would rather create your own job than work for someone else. There are millions of ways to do that: write a play, start a restaurant, draw a poster. My mother has always been an actress, playwright and director, and was a lecturer at one point; dad was a technical guy managing stage. I was raised along those lines.
‘I was taught the process. I grew up learning about how to come up with a concept and rehearse and stage-test it. In the end, putting on a show is important to me as opposed to just stepping on stage.’
As a songwriter Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves, admits he can be a harsh editor.
‘I would rather something not be released than released prematurely. A lot of stuff is a work in progress. My big question is when is a song done; it’s done when you finally record it, when you put it in a frame and then it will change around a bit. I try to have all the songs lure you into the next one and make you miss the one before it. Everything can be an individual piece and you. The old format used to be multi-track. I always like using tape because there are limitations to it; there are only so many tracks that you can lose track in digital and lose sight of it. Eight track is pretty well perfect, four track is more fun; simplicity often reeks of purity.’
Shakey Graves is looking forward to making his debut steps onto Bluesfest stages this year. ‘It feels insane to step out on a big stage. Anything past 2,000 or 2,500 feels like a million people. It’s impossible to tell whether its 8,000 or more!’
Shakey Graves is one of the featured acts you will want to discover at Bluesfest this coming Easter long weekend.
For tickets and program information go to bluesfest.com.au.