He’s in his early thirties, but guitarist Graham Tichy has the résumé of a seasoned rock-&-roll journeyman. To witness Tichy rip off a solo—alternating gorgeous, rolling runs with bright jabs and uncannily nimble fretwork—is to witness the young, raw spirit of the instrument as it was heard in Sun Studios or some vaunted Nashville session in the ’50s. It is history distilled in a jumble of notes.
Tichy has lit up stages across the U.S. and Europe, laying out his nimble licks for such rockabilly legends as Wanda Jackson (the undisputed queen of the genre), Robert Gordon, and Martí Brom. He has also toured and released records as a member of several top-notch rockabilly and rock and roll units, Detroit’s Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers and Albany, NY, rock & rollers the Lustre Kings, Ian and the Aztecs as well as his own band, Rocky Velvet.
In addition, he sat in for Bill Kirchen during the long-awaited Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen reunion shows in 2004, including two sold-out performances in San Francisco. Graham’s dad, John, had made his own name as a founding member of that group all those years ago, but it was Graham’s pure talent that got him the gig, not just family connections.
The Commander himself was moved to proclaim in the San Francisco Chronicle that Graham was “the new rockabilly whiz-kid guitar player…he plays like James Burton used to play with Elvis in the ’60s.” (Graham and his dad, an esteemed professor of mechanical engineering, still frequently share the stage together.)
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame has deemed Graham one the “hottest, most capable guitarists” in the field, while Metroland, the newsweekly of NY’s Capital Region (Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga), crowned him Best Guitarist in 2003. A cover story in the same publication in 2004 stated, “Tichy is the kind of player who whips your head around. . .whether you’re a record geek, tracing obscure strains of forgotten geniuses like Cliff Gallup and Joe Maphis in Tichy’s tones, or just out to have a good time and feeling yourself tugged out onto the dance floor by the classic spirit in his playing.”
Graham has also released a solo 45 on Wild Boar Records that includes his calling card, the dizzying, hillbilly-meets-Ventures instro “Graham Cracker Boogie,” and he still occasionally plays in Albany’s Rocky Velvet, the rockabilly kingpins that he grew up with and cut his teeth in back in the ’90s and ’00s.
Lately, Tichy can be seen playing with a diverse assortment of bands. From the big band swing and jazz of Doc Scanlon’s Rhythm Boys, to the vintage rock and roll of Johnny Rabb, to the authentic Chicago blues of The Shakin’ Bakers, to the wild 60’s garage punk rock of The Sophisticates, Graham always seems to find the right tone and touch for any situation.
In addition to his playing, Tichy is a respected guitar teacher, and his vocabulary and encyclopedic knowledge of the instrument and theory feed into both his training and playing. Tichy has filtered a whole generation of sometimes forgotten players into his technique—players like Hank Garland, Jimmy Bryant, and Cliff Gallup to name a few.
Tichy has links to the past, present, and future of rock & roll. He is a world-class player with years ahead of him and untapped regions to explore.