Review and photographs by Fred Rudofsky
Allegedly, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his career; compellingly, Rocky Velvet performed 37 songs in a night with – by their own admission – largely beer-induced rehearsals. The Bard remains a man of mystery; in contrast, the reunited quartet was as open as a slide guitar tuning, sharing jokes, exercising a hilarious feng shui moment and thanking their friends, literally, by name at a packed Ale House in Troy on a recent Saturday night.
Rockabilly, early blues and garage-rock informed two sets that left a throng of Ale House dancers sweating and thirsty and the local live music scene’s ultimate fan, Dick Quinn (name-checked by singer Ian Carlton to great applause) smiling and ecstatic. Ike Turner’s “You’ve Got to Lose” (performed as “You’ve Got to Move”), the Elvis Presley hit “Wear My Ring around Your Neck,” and “King Kong”, a primo cut from the band’s classic album It Came from Cropseyville, established that this was not going to be a sit-and-drink-a-beer kind of night. It made sense that the band dipped heavily into the Presley cannon – after all, his visage overlooks the small stage. “Just Because” got a light polka treatment, but it soon took off with two scorching solos from Graham Tichy, who was sporting a pink Fender Jazz Master. “Trouble,” full of Memphis swagger, got the crowd hooting and hollering. Todd Bradley, guest bassist on loan from the Hi-Risers, stepped to the microphone for an angsty “It’s Now or Never”; in the second set, he put a serious Fender bass groove to “One Night with You” and “King Creole.”