I had an easy decision to make. I could ride with all my friends the two-hour drive to the beach for New Years on December 30th, or I could stay behind, go to the Shakey Graves concert solo, and then drive myself to the beach the next day. I made the right call.
Like a proper taco dip, there are many savory layers to a Shakey Graves concert. The solo performances with just his acoustic guitar and suitcase kick drum. There’s the story times between songs that make you feel as if he’s playing for you in his living room, and then there’s the full band, three electric guitar songs that bring you to your feet.
The concert began with Shakey coming out solo to his mini stage on the stage. His Johnny Cash presence is undeniable with the suit, hat, cowboy boots, and sunburst guitar strapped to his chest. He took a deep breath and reminded the crowd that this was one of the first venues he played on his first tour ever when opening for Charleston’s Shoves and Rope in the fall of 2013. He continued that it was a big deal for them that it was sold out and now here he is three years later with back-to-back sold out gigs. There’s nothing better than hearing a musician start his set, “This place is special to me so if it’s alright with you, I’m going to play some songs I haven’t played in a long time.”
After opening with Word of Mouth perched on his mini stage, the fun story time began. “This next song I wrote the first time I went to New York City. I was on the subway and it was the first time I had met a prostitute. Well, at least the first time where one blatantly said she was. Her name was Monique the Freak. She was really worried about how dirty my boots were. And then we got married. This is for her where ever she is and the few teeth she probably has left.” Graves then strummed into City in a Bottle, song writing is at its’ best:
Yeah fix your boots or take me home says quick Monique the Freak
I need an easy dollar are you trick or are you treat
Well if she was six teeth younger and if I had half a mind
I’d carry her away from that wicked thing outside
Shakey then rolled through songs Halloween and Proper Fence. Halloween was a treat as he stopped mid-song to criticize his own lyrics. “Can you tell I wrote this when I was young?” He then dictated the lyrics he had just played:
Yeah, down at the local liquor store
I got friends on every isle
Swerving from side-to-side
Like I’m running from a goddamn crocodile
“What? Swerving side to side like a crocodile? (laughs) That’s not how people walk in liquor stores.” He then finished the song chuckling at the end.
The most special part of the night was the beginning of the encore. He pointed to a chrome ornament dangling from his Texas flag amplifier. “Years ago I was at a show and this kid on his Mom’s shoulders passed up a chrome skull to me. I get a lot of stuff thrown up but this was awesome. I put it in my guitar case and it’s traveled with me to every show since then. Well, he passed away recently and his Mom is here at the show tonight.” The Mom came out waving to the crowd which returned a loud applause of love and sorrow. “His favorite song was ‘Georgia Moon’ so I’m going to play that for you now.” After the song, Shakey blew a kiss to the mom off-stage. The funny part of this beautiful, country song is that Graves’ wrote it as an ode to moonshine and drunk driving. I think I really would have liked this kid.
So, the morale of this story is: if the situation ever arises to see Shakey Graves live or do anything else, you now know what to do.