Alejandro Rose-Garcia, from Austin, Texas, goes by the stage name Shakey Graves. If this makes him sound like an itinerant Delta bluesman, in the design of his performance, he is — partly. Graves is a one-man act, a guitar slinger/singer with a stomp box, but he’s not a true bluesman by any stretch of the imagination. And NPR got it only partly right when they described him as an “anti-folk phenomenon,” “anti-folk” being the name of a music scene in New York.
“I cut my teeth at the Sidewalk Café,” Graves says by phone. “Anti-folk came out of there. They have this crazy open-mic where a couple hundred people show up, so they hold a lottery to see who gets to play. I played with a lot of people that I consider legends, but I’m not sure anyone outside of there will ever hear them.”
Otherwise, how best to describe the Shakey Graves experience? “I don’t know,” he says. “It’s louder in person.” And if not the anti-folk phenom, then what? “Probably just a musician.”
This has been Graves’s breakout year, which includes his first national tour in support of Roll the Bones. “I’m taking a show I’ve worked on for three years out on the road.” After stints in L.A. and N.Y., Rose-Garcia, 26, says he went home to Austin to dial in the whole Shakey Graves thing at the local speakeasy level. The stage name also buys Rose-Garcia anonymity, and he says he likes that. He tells the story of how Jeff Buckley took off around the country at the peak of his fame and played venues under different aliases just for fun, more or less. “I get inspiration from things that aren’t personal,” he says. “I’m not one to air my dirty laundry. I don’t write breakup songs about old girlfriends. And I want it to be more about the music than about who’s presenting it.”
Shakey Graves: Soda Bar, Saturday, July 27, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $10.