10/24/14- The Sinclair

Shakey Graves snuck on stage for a final pre-show tune up. “Can I get more drum?” he shouts to the dark. And then to the audience: “You guys want more drum? Let’s party with this drum!”

Sporting a tan felt cowboy hat and jeans rolled up at the ankles, Shakey stepped up to the pedals of his handmade suitcase-shaped kick drum before breaking into “Built to Roam.” Shakey’s simple, sincere attitude shone via silly jokes and playful asides. Hysterical and honest banter – for example, he introduced “Pansy Waltz” with, “That’s how babies are made. Through waltzing!” – littered the performance throughout the night.

Surprisingly, scattered conversation from the audience entered as the fifth member of the band, but Shakey seemed to not be bothered, still giving it his all.

As for the official members of the band, each musician had quite an entrance as they entered the stage: A ridiculous galloping greeting for his drummer, Boo, a “Pat, Pat, Pat!” chant for the other guitarist, and Shakey looking in the wrong direction (“Oh, thereee she is!”) when he brought out Esme.

Shakey hopped around from bandmate to microphone, engaging in a guitar battle with Pat, singing a harmony with Esme, and even stooping down to challenge Boo to a round of “Stump the Drummer” (kind of like an audible version of “chicken” for musicians). Boo banged his head with the beat, almost hitting the drums with his forehead. At one point, he tossed his hat to the side, probably because it was sure to fall off anyway. The pair worked together to build the rhythm, alternating hits between Shakey’s suitcase drum and Boo’s bass one.

The entire set was a series of stop and go, fast and slow. Time changes trip up those bobbing their head, and the whole ordeal felt like a game of “Red Light, Green Light,” with a cheeky Shakey as our ringleader, continuously shaking things up. When the band left the stage, Shakey found himself alone; greeting the crowd with a cheery, “Oh hi! Welcome to Shakey’s acoustic session!” before croaking out the painful “No, no, no, you’re not like the others,” of “Bulley’s Lament.”

And then, he invited the chatterboxes and fans to officially join as the fifth bandmate; “You think you could do the backup ooh-ing part?” Shakey asked. With a quick tutorial and adding an audible disclaimer, “I haven’t played this song on stage since I wrote it,” we broke into “To Cure What Ails You” together. We tripped over a few “oohs” and he scrunched up his face, struggling to remember all the lyrics.

“It’s something like that, right?” he said with a laugh. “That’s all I’ve got. I promised myself I’d play that tonight,” he apologized, but the rocky rendition proved to be just what the crowd wanted that night.

The Bone-Rattling Tunes of Shakey Graves
  • Cheeky and cheery
  • Live renditions not carbon copies of recorded, lots of variation
  • Wasn't able to capture the complete attention of a chatty crowd
8.4Folk Let Loose

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