Saturday, March 09, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The hot licks of Dan Hicks

This week, let's check out some video clips of singer-guitarist Dan Hicks, who will be in Edwardsville this coming Wednesday, March 13 to perform at the Wildey Theatre. Hicks' quirky blend of Gypsy jazz, swing, folk, country, and blues has been entertaining and amusing audiences for more than 40 years, ever since he emerged as part of the San Francisco rock scene of the 1960s.

The Arkansas native first gained a measure of fame in the mid-60s as a drummer for the folk-rock group the Charlatans before launching his own band, the first edition of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, in 1969. That group enjoyed a good deal of success with albums including Where's The Money?, Striking It Rich and Last Train To Hicksville before breaking up in 1973.

Hicks subsequently recorded and toured as a solo act, eventually put together a couple of other groups (the Acoustic Warriors and Bayside Jazz), and also has done some work as a graphic artist. Reforming a new version of the Hot Licks in 1998, Hicks has managed to find a new generation of fans as well as hang on to many of the old ones, and continues to tour and release occasional recordings, the most recent of which was 2010's Crazy for Christmas. His last appearance in the St. Louis area was in April 2012 at the Old Rock House.

Today, we've got a grab-bag of clips from various stages of Hicks' career, starting up above with a version of the Swing Era standard "Avalon" take2 from a performance in 2010 in Denver.

Down below, we go back in time to find Hicks performing one of his signature songs, "I Scare Myself," in 1990 on David Sanborn's Night Music TV program. Along with fiddler Brian Godchaux and The Groovettes on vocals, Hicks is backed by the Night Music house band, including Sanborn on sax, Don Alias on percussion, Hiram Bullock on guitar, Philippe Saisse on keyboards, Tom Barney on bass and Omar Hakim on drums.

Below that, the third clip takes us all the way back to 1972, and shows Hicks and the "classic" lineup of the Hot Licks - Sid Page (violin), John Girton (guitar), Jaime Leopold (bass) and singers Maryann Price and Naomi Eisenberg - performing "By Hook or by Crook" and "Shorty Falls in Love" during rehearsals for an appearance on The Flip Wilson Show. While there are a few bits of extraneous audio that seem to be coming from somewhere else on the sound stage, it's worth seeing as a rare look at the band during that period.

The last three clips bring us back closer to the present day, beginning with a version of Tom Waits' song "The Piano Has Been Drinking," recorded in 2011 at guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch. Below that, there's a rendition of "Along Comes A Viper" (styled here as "'Long Comma Viper") recorded at Hicks' 70th birthday party in April 2012 at Davies Hall in San Francisco. And today's final clip features another Hicks favorite, "How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away," recorded in July 2012 during an outdoor show in Egg Harbor, WI.

For more about Dan Hicks, check out this extended interview, done in 2001 for the website; a slightly more recent conversation with; and and this interview, published just last month on the website Music Illuminati.

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