The Austin Chronicle

Worst Tour Stories Ever: Shakey Graves

By Shakey Graves, July 8, 2016, Music

We're in Miami on my first tour, playing in a straight-up nightclub where the opening act – me – starts at midnight. From my limited understanding of Miami, you can stay in the bars getting wasted until 5 or 6am, then get locked in what becomes a cocaine nightmare until they reopen at 9am, or go to a strip club called Legs & Eggs that advertises breakfast specials. So people are just showing up when I get onstage.

I've made it through exactly one song when this drunk woman wanders in and starts on me with the "Play 'Freebird!'" thing. I'm like "Ha ha, right. I don't play 'Freebird.'" As I'm playing, she's getting closer – right up to the stage – and going, "Hey! Hey! Hey! Seriously, play 'Freebird!' What's up with you?"

I say, "I don't know how to play 'Freebird.'"

I could fake it, but I don't really know the words and certainly can't do a guitar solo for as long as you would need. Honestly, if I could, I would've played it. I was trying to be cool with her, but she wouldn't stop yelling at me.

So I finally tell her to shut up and that's her final straw. She puts her drink down and gets onstage. "You want to tell me to shut up? Play ... fucking ... 'Freeeeeeebird!'"

I say, "Listen, I couldn't even play Freeb–" when she puts her hand on my mouth and goes, "Shut your fuckin' mouth!"

There are maybe 40 people watching this and no one's coming to my aid. What are my options? Do I punch this woman? No one likes having a stranger touch you on the mouth, let alone when you're performing – which is what I was under the impression that I was doing. I could see the story, though: "And then he punched her." That would've been bad.

So I just took it. I played dead like she was a bear. Eventually she got tired of jostling with me and got offstage mumbling, "You didn't fuckin' play 'Freebird.'" I finished the song and left.

"I'm Shakey Graves, go fuck yourself!"

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