Graveljaw Keaton strums his guitar in front of old blue lockers.

Localized: Graveljaw Keaton


The Medicine Company and Graveljaw Keaton are co-headlining March’s Localized showcase at Kilby Court on Sunday, March 10 with very special guest Emily Hicks! Doors open at 7 p.m. for a night of whimsical alt-country for only $5! This event is sponsored by Riso-Geist.

Armed with a hollow body Gibson and a stripped-down pedal board, Graveljaw Keaton creates looping melodies as layered and expansive as a smokey sunrise over Mount Olympus. His performances are intimate and raw, sinking into  his grooves and baring his soul to his audience, who listens like a cozy fly on the parlor wall.

After performing for a decade with Poet Bones and other bands, Keaton Stewart rolled out Graveljaw in doses over the course of 2023, a few tracks and live shows at a time. “I cultivated ideas slowly, but it has taken off rapidly,” says Stewart. “It immediately became my full-time gig.” His portable gear and easy-to-enjoy, wordless compositions are ready-made for a variety of venue types—from restaurants and bars to small stages and theaters. Ten years ago, Stewart was playing in a hardcore electronic band at Warped Tour. Compared to much of his previous work, Graveljaw is quiet and soothing—fit to pair with a solo, introspective road trip across the Great Basin rather than a mosh pit. “When I was managing a music store, I was always looking for tunes to play that myself and others could enjoy throughout the day,” says Stewart. “I started gravitating toward calmer, lo-fi music. Stuff like Hermanos Gutiérrez and Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio sunk in deep.”

Graveljaw Keaton stands in front of a white door wearing sunglasses.
Stewart experimented with genres for years before making music as Graveljaw. Photo: Jess Gruneisen.

“I cultivated ideas slowly, but it has taken off rapidly.”

Stewart has a hunch that his foray into the instrumental isn’t random and may be a response to the context that we’re living in. “With COVID and war and all the crazy shit happening, people seek a kind of lullaby,” he says. “I’ve admired artists who find a way to transcend into this expressive place without lyrics, and I wondered what it would sound like if I attempted the same.” Some of Stewart’s earliest memories are tied to the pursuit of making music, such as repeatedly rewinding the “Johnny B. Goode” scene from Back to the Future, closing his eyes and imagining himself strumming the chords. He procured his first electric guitar at eight; by high school he was playing shows at Kilby Court. 

Stewart has released eight singles as Graveljaw Keaton since last May and the steady stream is set to continue. Rather than shoehorning his sound into existing genre terms, Stewart has coined his own. “I call it ‘Wild Soul,’ which is a meld of blues, funk and classic rock with Western sounds,” he says. As for the saloon-style, outlaw slide guitar found on several Graveljaw tracks, Stewart acknowledges he’s a product of his surroundings—including a childhood spent mostly in Spanish Fork. Standout single “the fenceline” opens with a rhythmic march that he recorded outdoors while hiking with a friend in Colorado. “The mountain influence is in the music—in some cases literally,” Stewart says. 

“I call it ‘Wild Soul,’ which is a meld of blues, funk and classic rock with Western sounds.”

When playing live, he recreates the rugged cadence of “the fenceline” with gritty, staccato palm muting. Stewart performs sitting down, bent over his guitar as his head rolls side to side like an unshakable metronome. He brings his own chair and lamp—the same ones he uses to rehearse at home. “That was the whole idea for the live show—to capture thoughts from the living room,” he says. “I keep everything as organic as possible.”Aside from his looper and a simple reverb, Graveljaw Keaton’s unique, warm-yet-menacing tone comes entirely from his own hands. Melodies like “love letters” and “patina” showcase Stewart’s ability to concoct rich, dynamic textures without complicating the equation. 

“When I’m working on a tune, I play it over and over and over again to work out the kinks,” he says. “Like magic, it seems to come together.” Get your tickets now to see Graveljaw Keaton at Localized at Kilby Court on March 10 for and follow him on Instagram at @graveljawkeaton. 

Read more Localized Interviews:
Localized: Megan Blue & The Bonfire
Localized: Darling & Debonair