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Michale Graves | How a Misfit Fits In: On Autism, AIDs, and Fascism | May 2011

by Keegan McCall

“How is Michale Graves going to play true, in-your-face punk music in a coffee shop with an acoustic guitar?” I think, arriving at Langdon St. Café, Montpelier, on Friday, April 2nd. I enter the building to find patient Punk fans eagerly conversing. Tickets at the door are a reasonable $20, for a musician of Michale Graves’ stature. The opening act is a lone man in his 20’s, playing original songs on an acoustic guitar. His banter between songs involves stories of touring with Michale as an opening act when he was a teenager.

After, two men, looking out of place among a room full of die-hard Punk fans, step onto stage. It all soon makes sense what they’re waiting for, when the man of the hour casually strolls in and apologizes for his lateness with a laugh. Michale and his two guitar- wielding comrades start off with a great opener, “Black Bird”.

Throughout the night, Michale explains stories behind each song, and by the time Michale plays “Fiend Club”, my skepticism is completely gone. In between songs I would hear cries, not for "Free Bird", but rather for classics such as “Dig Up Her Bones”. He owned the vibe and his songs worked acoustically.

When a phone rings during a serious part of the performance, Michale calmly stops what he’s saying: “Uh, excuse me; Michale Graves ringtones only please.” With a laugh he returns to his set. Later, with a drink in hand he says, “I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce the place I’m at.” The audience yells, “Montpelier!” so he raises his glass. “Cheers to Montpelier.”

After the show, Michale sits down with me to talk about his current touring act as a singer/songwriter, and as we converse I re-learn a lesson I continually forget: never underestimate a punk.

How’s your tour going so far?

Tour’s going well. It started yesterday in Brooklyn and it was World Awareness Day for Autism and they bathed the Empire State Building in blue light. I played a show in a place called Europa and all the money went to a place called Hawthorne Country Day School as I said in the show tonight.

A gym teacher that worked at the school had studied jazz in college and began to play music with children that had autism and he began to see miraculous things happen when they implemented a music and arts program. It’s hard for a private school to get funding because of the children being disabled and the economy. One of the things I love to do is raise money for people that are doing stuff like that. Changing the world just a little bit.




 

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