Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks Thursday, August 3, 2006.


Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks at the Regattabar in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Thursday, August 3, 2006. 

I’ve seen Dan Hicks perform in various incarnations of his act dozens of times over the last thirty years, mostly in the Greater Boston area, but once in San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall for an early ‘80s reunion concert with the early Hot Licks featuring Maryann and Naomi.

Thursday night at the Regattabar, DH&THL arrived on stage within a few minutes of the scheduled 7:30 show time. Dan sported a less flashy look than some of the outfits I’ve seen him wear— this time a white and green shirt with some type of irregular crisscross pattern, and a pair of grey slacks. Lickettes Daria and Roberta each wore a short little black dress. (I’m guessing most people aren’t wondering what guitarist Dave Bell was wearing.) 

The Regattabar is a small jazz club inside the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square. The tables are small, round café-style, placed close together with four chairs each.

I attended the show solo, and they assign seats according to the order that the tickets were purchased. Arriving early, I was pleasantly surprised to be seated very close to the stage, in the second row of tables.    

I was even more pleasantly surprised when, by total coincidence the people assigned to my table turned out to be an arts publicist that I’ve known for years, and a newspaper writer (like me) who does arts reporting for a group of newspapers just outside Boston, and her husband. She wrote a feature about Dan, previewing the show, and interviewed him by phone from his home in Mill
Valley. She said that he had her in stitches laughing through the entire interview. 

“Canned Music” was in its customary lead-off spot, followed by an instrumental number that Dan didn’t identify. (I think it’s the song they normally do second.)  

Next were “Strike It While It’s Hot” and “Song of My Father.” A song that Dan identified as a Jim Kweskin number, “Blues My Sweetie Gave to Me,” followed. 

Dan then stepped aside and let the Lickettes belt out “I’m an Old Cowhand.”  

All the while, Dan was doing a fair amount of banter between songs, although he wasn’t quite as loquacious as some nights. He introduced “I Scare Myself” by providing his own Spanish translation of the song title– “Yo Scare Myself.”  

Dan demonstrated his physical agility as well, especially during “I Scare Myself.” As the band played their solos, Dan and the girls used the break to do a winding march through the audience, Dan playing the cowbells all along the route, with the girls also bringing along portable percussion instruments.  

When they reached a patch of open space in the rear of the room, Dan executed a series of spins and twirls that would have challenged most men half his age. It harkened back to Dan’s younger days when he was known as quite the hoofer. 

Dan continued to boogie through “Pennies from Heaven,” joining the Lickettes for some choreographed moves within the space limitations of the stage area. 

Dan introduced the next song, “13D” as a love Song for Speed Freaks. “They fall in love too, folks,” Dan informed the audience.  

Next was Ukulele Lady, followed by “That Ain’t Right.” A personal favorite, “Evenin’ Breeze,” was next. 

Dan introduced “Sure Had a Wonderful Time” as a Louis Jordan tune. The song concerns a man who wakes up with no memory of the night before due to over-indulgence, but is sure he had a wonderful time. 

They ended with “Payday Blues.” 

For an encore, they did “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” The also did one more song, but I don’t have it in my notes and I can’t recall what it was. You just can’t rely on us print journalists when it comes to this Internet stuff. 

Dan introduced the band a couple of times in the course of the night. Richard Chong was on violin. Dave Bell played lead guitar. Paul Smith handled bass chores. Each time he did the introductions, with all the cheering it was hard to tell whether Dan said the last names of the Lickettes, but I did catch their first names: Daria and Roberta. 

Dan seemed to be in a good humor all evening. During the instrumental break in one number, Dan rapped his knuckles audibly on his guitar several times in succession. When some in the audience clapped, as if he had just done his solo, Dan nodded, lowered his eyelids and flashed a mock sincere smile, mouthing “thank you.” 

There was only one incident where an unfortunate individual made the mistake of shouting a request, a practice that Dan frowns upon. The request was for “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away.” Dan didn’t let the opportunity pass. 

“Well, we were going to play that song,” Dan deadpanned. He then noted that he’d sung that song “about 12 billion times,” and said he wanted to “give it a rest for a couple of decades.” Of course, when they did the song as their encore, Dan couldn’t resist one more little jab.  

“I have an idea,” Dan said. “We’re gonna play ‘How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away.’” 

It seems like a given, so I almost forgot to mention that the band was tight as usual, and everybody was in fine voice. Dan’s voice sounded great, and as always seemed to blend perfectly with female harmonies. 

We ran into Dan on the way out as he was coming back in the room to chat with people and socialize. So we got to exchange a few words and shake hands. Dan was courteous and friendly.

One Response to “Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks Thursday, August 3, 2006.”

  1. 1 Red Joe

    Dan Hicks will be performing in this area next month, the closest being the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley MA on July 27.

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