SHAKEY GRAVES

Shakey Graves

Recently described as an "antifolk phenomenon" by NPR Music, Alejandro Rose-Garcia (aka Shakey Graves) is one of those rare artists whose music inspires the kind of obsessive devotion that compels someone to spend hours searching for more. Fans eagerly wait for the next track to surface online, erratically released from a collection of hundreds of unheard bedroom recordings and live rarities.

As word of his haunting, sometime bizarre lo-fi recording style and contrastingly explosive live shows continues to spread, Shakey Graves is quickly rising from obscurity. Maybe the single most buzzed-about artist in his hometown of Austin, TX, his shows there are the stuff of legend – so much so that the Mayor of Austin gave him his own local holiday. February 9th is officially proclaimed "Shakey Graves Day."

He performs live as an astonishing one man band, stomping out dusty rhythms on a hand-made kick drum built from an old suitcase on top of feverish finger picking that brings to mind Townes Van Zandt, Leo Kottke or Michael Hurley.

Shakey Graves has a huge year ahead of him, including a nationwide tour dates and an upcoming live album release. He's also putting the finishing touches on his sophomore studio album, with a release date TBA soon.

Sumner Brothers

In the summer of 2006 The Sumner Brothers transformed their garage into a recording studio and created In The Garage. The album became an underground sensation, garnering the attention of future collaborator Sam Parton (The Be Good Tanyas) and charting in the top 10 for Folk/Roots/Blues on Canadian College Radio.

With a fired-up fan-base and a sprawling tour schedule, the brothers released their Self Titled Debut in 2008. They created an alt-country gem. Attracting throngs of admirers, the album placed in The Province Newspaper’s 2008 top ten list. ‘Girl in the Window’ won Best Alt-Country Song at the 9th Annual IMA’s and 'Ticket to Ride' was included in Music BC’s 2010 compilation.

In 2010, the brothers released a follow-up to In The Garage entitled In The Garage II - Your Last Chance. Like its predecessor, the album digs deep into the Sumner Brothers archives of recorded material. In The Garage II is at times intimate, rowdy, odd and through and through magical. The record was featured in Slowcoustic’s top Canadian records of 2010 and received 4.5 stars from Americanrootsuk.com.

This past fall welcomed the release of the brothers’ latest effort, I'll Be There Tomorrow. The album reached #17 on the Euro Americana charts; The Georgia Straight called it "a triumph" The Edmonton Sun referred to it as "the finest alt-country north of the 49th parallel." and Americanarootsuk.com (former Maverick writer) wrote "I wouldn't be at all surprised if this 5 star album ends up in my top 20 all time"

Ben Rogers

My great-great granduncle, George Rogers, was on a hunting trip in eastern Kansas with a friend in the winter of 1875. After trailing and driving deer for five days they still hadn’t fired a single shot. But while canoeing down the Wakarusa River George spotted something hopeful through the brush along the riverbank. He took aim and fired. It was a good, clean shot and through the slow clearing smoke, he could see the foliage shake and spread beneath weight of the kill. He and his partner paddled ashore hurriedly to collect their prize but as they drew near, their minds filled with horror at the sight they beheld. A young squaw no more than sixteen, lay drenched in blood, slain by the bullet from George’s rifle. He had fatefully mistaken her buckskin garments for that of a living deer and shot her through the heart, killing her instantly. What he did not know then was that his victim was the princess of the Osage Indian tribe. When the tribesmen finally tracked him down he was presented before the entire village, stripped, and then skinned alive.

When my grandfather told me that story, he concluded by saying: “Always know what you’re after, otherwise you might end up dead.” I was only eight years old at the time but I’ll be damned if it didn’t stick with me for the next twelve years. I went to art school and dropped out then tried my hand at film school only to drop out of that too. I never learned much of anything in either of those places. I guess it’s because my true teachers are people whose wisdom is unfettered and free, people who have stories to tell, people like my grandfather.

I can still remember the first time I heard Woody Guthrie. There was a power outage in the neighborhood and the only thing I could do was read Hemingway by candlelight and listen to my battery-powered radio. I turned it on and Tom Joad was playing. I put Hemingway down almost immediately. I had read Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath so I was familiar with the story but something in the way Woody sang it made my hair stand up and my skin get goose pimples. I bought his Dust Bowl Ballads album the following day and listening to it made me feel like I was someplace else. His songs are impeccably simple and poignant, archaic but everlasting. Nothing in his collection of work can be tied to the candied pandemonium of most contemporary music; pitch-shifted musclemen and midriff-bearing demi-divas.

Everyone always asks me why I always write about the past or set my stories in the past. Truth is, I can’t relate to anything today: computers, television, even the wars we’re fighting. It’s like I always say: "Out with the new, in with the old." That’s not to say I’m oblivious, I’m just not finished with the past and I’m in no hurry to catch up. I’m wandering along dormant railroads strangled by tall weeds in the time of cowboys and Indians. I’m lost somewhere along the Wakarusa River, but instead of a rifle in my hands, I got a ’63 Gibson guitar and aside from a few cuts and scrapes, I still have most of my skin to speak of.

-Ben Rogers

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SHAKEY GRAVES with Sumner Brothers, Ben Rogers

Wednesday, August 7 · Doors 8:00 PM at Electric Owl