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Roseville teen musicians embrace throwback jazz sound

Thomas & Plecker influenced by Led Zeppelin, sing Sinatra standards
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Their best show so far had to be the speakeasy-themed party in the penthouse of the historic Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento.

"There were really, really cute cigarette girls," said guitarist Sam Plecker.

The trio of guys flirted a little but the women knew what they were dealing with - teenagers. The Roseville-based Thomas & Plecker band is comprised of three high school students who've been friends since childhood and have together created a jazzy and crooner-style sound that's generating local buzz.

They released their first EP, "Sessions at UpRock," March 25 and have recorded five music videos. They've performed shows in San Francisco and Watsonville, and at lots of private parties and appeared on "Sacramento & Co."

Diners at La Provence may know the band from their bimonthly appearances at the French restaurant. They've also performed at Shady Coffee and Tea. The band mainly covers popular standards such as "Fly Me to the Moon," and "All of Me."

"Thomas & Plecker is really different and I think that gives us a diverse fan base," Plecker, 18, said. "We put a modern kick and modern spin on it ... and I think that's part of our success."

About a year ago, Plecker and his friend Derek Thomas performed Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" during an annual festival at Woodcreek High School.

Both teens have grown up playing music. Plecker has taken private lessons and performs in Woodcreek's jazz band. He's also been in punk rock bands, and draws inspiration from 1980s rock and the movie "Wayne's World."

Thomas, 17, comes from a musical family. One day he and his brother performed the AC/DC song "Back in Black" for their dad.

"It was awful, but he was like, 'That's awesome,'" Thomas said.

Then, last year, he auditioned for musical theater and sang at Woodcreek and realized he was meant to be onstage. Bandmate Nolan Le Vine witnessed that fateful performance.

"I was in the crowd during that and it was literally halfway through they got a standing ovation," Le Vine said. "I was sitting there thinking, I want to be in that band so bad."

Thomas got laid off from his seasonal job and that day bought $700 worth of speakers. Thomas & Plecker was born. They soon added Le Vine, 16, as the drummer.

But a piece was missing: A bassist.

"Jazz without bass is unheard of," Le Vine said. "People would laugh at that."

People often tell the group they need a bassist, but then they hear them play - and notice how well they do without one.

The guys are heavily influenced by jazz, but also by Led Zeppelin, Green Day, John Mayer and James Morrison. They like a "booty-shaking jazz feel," Thomas said.

Despite their sophisticated sound and throwback style, the guys remain teenagers at heart, often teasing each other - especially Plecker who can't seem to finish a meal at La Provence. Before a show, they're usually outside throwing around a football.

"We're not good at football at all," Thomas said. "It usually falls in the creek."

But as the school year begins to wind down, the bandmates are looking to what the future holds for their band. Plecker will move to Chico for college in the fall and major in audio engineering.

"I want to live the dream and try to make it in bands," Plecker said. "It would be a slap in the face if that didn't happen because it's the only thing I'm good at."

Thomas has been accepted into a year-long artist-in-residence program at the Greens Village in Sacramento. He wants to pursue musical theater and later attend college to major in business.

Le Vine has one year left of high school.

"We know these are the last months so we're just trying to make the best of it," Le Vine said.

They know their paths will cross again and aren't even considering an end for Thomas & Plecker.

"We're going to leave it as an until-we-meet-again-type-of-thing," Plecker said.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Thomas & Plecker show

When: 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 18

Where:  La Provence, 110 Diamond Creek Place in Roseville

Cost: Free

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When: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21

Where: The Mes Amis Vintage Antique Show on the 400 block of Oak Street

Cost: Free