"There is a reason I have a stage name," Alejandro Rose-Garcia (AKA Shakey Graves) admits. "There is something to be said about performing outside of yourself. I feel that when a lot of people get onstage, they become a bigger version of themselves. It's the classic becoming the band."
But Shakey Graves isn't a "band." He's a one-man show and considered by many in Austin to be the greatest one-man show in a city that prides itself as the live music capital of the world.
An excerpt from the Austin Chronicle earlier last month:
"Over the last year, the Austin native's risen out of the singer-songwriter scrap heap and amassed a big enough fan base to merit a weekly residency at the Parish, which he's filled to near capacity on the first two Wednesdays in January.
"What I'm trying to do is about storytelling," he says. "I'm not really trying to play folk music or blues or one-man-band stuff. There's a long tradition of people I respect from poets to loud rockers, whatever -- it's about the human struggle. And I know that sounds cheesy, but I feel that with the live shows I put on, I really come to perform in front of people."
Rose-Garcia credits his compelling live show partly to his acting background.
"There is a stage-persona aspect of playing music," he says. "And I feel that acting and doing theater, all this training I've had with getting outside of my body in front of people -- that's sort of what it feels like -- has done me a lot of good. I feel really privileged to be able to perform in a way that doesn't really feel like me."
Although his songs definitely have an autobiographical nature to them, the fact that he's able to separate himself from the narrative makes performing that much more fulfilling.
"That's why I like my music so much," he quips. "It's not like I have to listen to myself sing songs about Alejandro going to the store or whatever. It really feels like something is happening that I don't really even control."
He has, however, figured out a way to captivate his audiences.
"I used to go drag an acoustic guitar onstage and actively not be listened to," he jokes. "I did this in many cities. But the way I've developed [my live] show is sort of formulaic, in a sense.
"The song I start with is supposed to make people stop talking [laughs], and then the song I follow it up with adds a little depth. And then the third song really flips the first two songs on their heads. It's a constant engagement with the crowd. And the volume of it and the drum really makes people pay attention whether they want to or not."
They are. And they can't help it.
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Shakey Graves. Opening for He's My Brother, She's My Sister, and Paper Planes. Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. at the Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St, Miami; 305-379-0508; thevagabondmiami.com. Tickets cost $10 plus fees via wanticket.com. 18 and older for women, 21 for men.