Be Here Now: The Sophisticates @ Tess’ Lark Tavern, 11/20/09

Graham Tichy (photo by John Whipple)
Graham Tichy (photo by John Whipple)

New band in Nippertown, the Sophisticates made their debut at Tess’ Lark Tavern in Albany back in August, and nobody really knew what to expect.

Now the band is returning to the Lark Tavern on Friday (November 20), and there’s one thing that you be sure of – the music will be anything but sophisticated.

The Sophisticates guitarslinger Graham Tichy (of rollicking rockabilly favorites Rocky Velvet) describes the band as “a garage-rock Rocky Velvet spin-off,” adding, “It’s a killer show – authentic ’60s garage and rock and roll – we even use a Shure Vocalmaster with the column speakers!”

And it’s not just all about the old-school gear, either. The Sophisticates have a songbag that matches, and the band has unearthed such vintage nuggets as “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” (by the Sonics), “I’m Leaving it All Up to You” (Don and Dewey) and “Any Way You Want It” (the Dave Clark Five).

In addition to Tichy on guitar, the Sophisticates also feature Rocky Velvet vocalist Ian Carlton, drummer Pete Vumbaco, and as Tichy explains, “a variety of bass players – on this particular gig Jay Gorleski, the old Rocky Velvet bass player is playing.”

All of which obviously begs the question, So what’s up with Rocky Velvet?, who seem to have been missing-in-action from the Nippertown music scene in recent months.

“Rocky Velvet is on a hiatus of sorts. If the stars align properly, we’ll play, but everyone has a lot going on,” Tichy says. “Jimmy (Haggerty, bassist) is playing with Barrence Whitfield. Ian is on the road with Los Straitjackets this winter. And Jeff (Michael, drummer) is a busy chef. I’ve got a wife, two kids, 40 guitar students, and full-time job – so as you can imagine, I’m pretty swamped.

“But musically, I’m doing this Sophisticates thing with Ian; I’ve got an authentic jump/Chicago blues band called the Shakin’ Bakers with Ted Hennesey that I’m trying to get off the ground; I’ve got gigs with Rabb (Johnny Rabb & the Jailhouse Rockers) here and there; and I’m now also in Doc Scanlon’s Rhythm Boys, which is a ton of fun and gets me out of the ‘3 chord paradigm.’ ”

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