Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks w/ special guest Milton
Friday April 17, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Beginning as a drummer in the seminal 60’s San Francisco rock band The Charlatans, and continuing with his unique and legendary Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Dan Hicks is widely acknowledged as one of the defining figures in American roots music. Having earned a reputation as a true original with his signature eclecticism and humor, Hicks continues to carve his way through a number of genres from proto-psychedelia to western swing and jazz, from tin pan alley to country blues -- all the while cultivating his own unique sound.
The original Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks recorded five ground-breaking and Billboard-charting records for the Columbia, Blue Thumb and Warner Bros. labels. They toured worldwide, and Dan appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine three times.
Throughout the 60s and 70s there was no one who sounded at all like Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, and remarkably, nearly 40 years later, there still isn't. We now find ourselves again in an age of introspective sensitive singer-songwriters. Luckily for us, throughout the past decade and amidst the new wave of freak folk that prides itself on its eclecticism, Dan has re-assembled the Hot Licks. Getting back into the swing of regularly recording and touring, he has proven once again that the king of hipster-chic will always be Dan Hicks.
This newest incarnation of Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks released the wildly successful Beatin’ the Heat in 2000, featuring collaborations with Bette Midler, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones and Brian Setzer. USA Today called it “one of the blessings of the new millennium.” That release was followed by the live CD Alive & Lickin’ in 2001.
Late 2003 saw the DVD/CD release of Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks - Featuring An All Star Cast of Friends, a spectacular concert and video project that reunited Hicks with virtually every musician he has ever played and recorded with. Both Mojo and Downbeat magazines rated it “Four Stars...one of the best CDs of 2004.
2005 brought the next studio release Selected Shorts, featuring special guests Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Gibby Haynes, Jim Keltner and Van Dyke Parks. It was widely touted as the band’s best CD to date. As The New Yorker magazine remarked, “As great as his early masterpiece Where’s the Money?...truly superb.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks tenth studio CD in 2009, Tangled Tales, was produced by Grammy-winner Chris Goldsmith (Blind Boys of Alabama). The widely acclaimed release on Surfdog Records features all new Dan Hicks original songs and special guests David Grisman, Roy Rogers, and Charlie Musselwhite, among others. To quote Daily Variety, “Dan Hicks is at the top of his game…unlike many pop artists today, a new studio album from Dan Hicks is like a new painting from Picasso.”
The very first and long-awaited Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks Christmas album was released in October 2010 – Crazy For Christmas, also produced by Chris Goldsmith, was lauded by NPR’s Fresh Air, the NY and LA Times, and The Washington Post. Called one of the Best of 2010 by the Village Voice, Crazy For Christmas also landed on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart.
Perhaps the Minneapolis Star Tribune sums it all up… “Dan Hicks is the eternal hipster, purveyor of the drollest and most swingin’ tunes the rock generation ever enjoyed.”
Show us the way, Dan.
I’ve spent a good part of my life in the library, a good part of my life in music venues and a good part of my life next to the record player. I grew up like most American suburban kids in the 1980’s, watching MTV and listening to top 40 radio. I also raided my friends’ parents’ record collections for all of the cool old stuff they had. “The Harder They Come” was one of the first albums I loved and it’s still one of my favorites. My songwriting heroes have always been the really smart ones who write great poetry over great tunes: Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Hank Williams, Bob Marley. My favorite singers were always the real churchy ones: Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, Toots Hibbert, The Staples. I also love raspy, intimate rock singers like Rod Stewart and Paul Westerberg. More than just about anything in life, I love a tune that you can’t wait to hear again, a story that takes you somewhere and a singer that you can feel in your heart.
I started hanging out in Greenwich Village when I was 12 or 13, looking for old records, checking out poetry readings and watching punk rock matinees at CBGB. My brothers had a band and I was often their roadie. I went to college and studied English and Spanish literature in New York City. I still live there today. I love the city very dearly. I love the country too, but I feel most at home in downtown Manhattan.
I started filling up notebooks with little rhymes and verses from a very young age. In high school and college, I’d write songs in class while the teachers lectured. I started playing my first gigs in coffee houses and bars, wherever I could. I only knew a few chords and I knew nothing about singing. I was lousy but I got better. I learned a lot on the job. I sent my first demos to a club called the The Living Room and soon I was a regular performer there. I put together a band to back me and we played all over the place. I was playing a solo set at a music conference in Florida when I got approached to make my first album. I sent it to my local radio station WFUV and my song “In the City” got a lot of airplay. Since then I’ve played a lot of gigs in a lot places and put out two other albums. I’ve written and recorded a lot of songs, I’ve played on TV and on radio stations around the country and I wrote the score for an HBO movie.
Just like when I was a kid, I’m still filling notebooks with rhymes every day and freaking out about great writing and great songs. You can hear echoes of a lot of my old records in my stuff, whether it’s blues or country or Nick Lowe or Jimmy Cliff or any number of things. I love keeping the roots alive in my music and I love the intimate experience of a song. I’d like to write a thousand more songs and play a thousand more gigs. You might see me on stage singing by myself, with a trio or with a six piece band. In whatever format I play, I’ll be going for something intimate and honest, trying to catch a good groove and tell you the story with all I’ve got.