Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his stage name “Shakey Graves,” came to Boston on Wednesday, Sept. 20, as part of a new and free “Beyond the Band” event series, in collaboration with Do617 and the Berklee School of Music.
“Beyond the Band” seeks to bridge the gap between the fan base and the musician via a panel discussion and Q&A. Joining “Shakey Graves” on stage was his manager, Bodie Johnson of BackForty Management and his agent, Keith Levy from Paradigm Talent Agency. The panel was moderated by the intelligent and charming Tonya Butler, the Assistant Chair of Music Business at Berklee. The discussion was a fascinating insight into both the world of “Shakey Graves” and the music industry itself.
“Shakey Graves” is a musician from Austin Texas, who released his first album, “Roll the Bones,” in 2011 and has since released three more studio albums, as well as several live albums. Born to an artistic family, he initially started his career in acting before focusing more intensely on music, devoting his time and efforts into his guitar playing and songwriting. He soon found a way to stand out as an artist by creating a kick drum out of a suitcase, with which he could travel around with ease. Shakey spoke of these early days of his career during the discussion panel.
The audience was treated to a peak into the inner workings of his career, with such insights as to how he ended up on the record label he is on now, how he put out his work when he was first beginning, how his shows are strategically booked, and how well he and his team get along and what they all saw in each other that attracted them to work together in the first place.
During the Q&A session that followed, Shakey’s answered ranged from serious to comical, but were always rooted in sincerity. Many of the questions asked came from music students at Berklee, who seemed interested in gaining insight and advice from an artist actively in the industry. After the Q&A, Shakey played a short musical set featuring both well known and obscure songs as: “Pay the Road,” “Nobody’s Fool”, and a medley of songs including “Roll the Bones” and “Built to Roam.” The set concluded in a standing ovation from the audience.
The event went just over two hours, and during the time Shakey displayed a quick wit and gratefulness for what he does and who he does it with. One anecdote he shared was the story of why he uses a stage name. He said that he wanted there to be a sense of separation between himself as a person and his music. For example, with the artist John Mayer, we often hear how people like Mayer’s music but dislike him as a person. Shakey wanted there to be a clear distinction between himself and his music, but that’s not to say his personal life doesn’t lend itself to his songwriting.
Overall, the evening was informative and entertaining. It didn’t matter if anyone went into the show a predisposed “Shakey Graves” fan or not, although it was certainly hard not to leave as one.