LIVE: Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks @ The Egg, 4/23/10

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks

“We understand Dan is in the building,” the big man with the untamed duck-tail haircut and weight-challenged Elvis sideburns informed us at the start of the show. “Stay tuned for further developments.”

Our helpful announcer was, of course, Dan Hicks, who has been doling out Texas Swing and deadpan humor for over forty-five years, ever since (as he so diplomatically put it) “I was living in San Francisco (and) you were living in Troy!” Regional smackdown aside, the Arkansas native had the eventually-packed Swyer Theatre laughing and clapping from the opening Django Reinhardt instrumental “Avalon” to the easy blues closer “Four or Five Times.”

No other performer makes having a good time seem so effortless. That includes the exaggerated choreography he sporadically performed with backup singers Roberta Donnay and Daria. (Yup, that’s her real name. No, she wasn’t wearing big glasses and Doc Martens.) “We want to be just as relaxed as anyone in the room,” Hicks said off-handedly after his hilarious samba send-up of Tom Waits’ “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me).” Donnay and Daria did more than provide visual stimuli and 1930s-style background vocals: Their duet on the last administration’s unofficial theme song “I’m an Old Cowhand” was dead solid perfect, and they played a myriad number of percussion instruments throughout the set, eliminating any need for a standard drummer.

Hicks couldn’t be this laid-back without a tight band, which he definitely has. Benito Cortez’s violin jumped out on the Gypsy jazz opener and stayed razor-sharp all evening; guitarist David Bell (who could pass for a life-size bobblehead doll) expertly slipped “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” into the middle of “‘Long Come a Viper,” and he busted out a sizzling solo on the Hicks classic “I Scare Myself.” (“The anthem of a generation,” Hicks cracked).

John Hammond is as serious about the blues as Hicks is about goofing around. While Hammond’s guitar licks occasionally betrayed him during his solo-acoustic opening set, his powerful vocals and wailing harp never faltered as he mixed his own street-wise works with hot chestnuts from Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Lightning Slim. Hammond also had his usual bag of song stories, including how he once introduced “My Time after a While” as a Buddy Guy tune… in front of the man who actually wrote the song!

Hammond also performed seamlessly despite a noisy, late-arriving crowd delayed by a massive Blue Collar Comedy Tour at the TU Center-inspired traffic jam. And if you chose Blue Collar over Hicks & Hammond, two things: Larry the Cable Guy plays golf (there’s pictures and everything), and if Ron White wasn’t on the bill, you got robbed!

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
The Blues My Naughty Baby
‘Long Come a Viper
I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)
I Scare Myself
Milk Shakin’ Mama – with John Hammond
He Don’t Care (He’s Stoned)
Evenin’ Breeze
Four or Five Times

Just Your Fool
Heartache Blues
Mean Ol’ Lonesome Train
My Time After a While
My Mind Is Ramblin’
Come On in My Kitchen
You Know That’s Cold
??? (Blind Willie McTell)
Come to Find Out
Someday Blues
I Can’t Be Satisfied

Dan Hicks
Benito Cortez, David Bell, Dan Hicks

John Hammond
John Hammond

  1. ritterrific says

    Thanks for the great photos and the excellent write up.
    I have been a Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks fan since I first heard the album Striking It Rich back in 1971. In that 39 years, I have been “this close” to seeing them live several times but never seemed to be able to coordinate my time and funds with the event in my area. This time, I told myself, I will see them come hell or high water (both of which presented themselves during the week).
    I was thrilled and delighted when they took the Swyer Theater stage at The Egg. It was like having a reunion with some dear old friends. Of course, Dan is the only one who might be considered “old” and while he may be chronologically-challenged, it does not show up in his music or stage presence.
    I visited with the band in the lobby for a short time after the show and everyone was personable and approachable. Again, it was like visiting with old friends. We laughed and asked each other questions about music and life.
    One of my favorite Hot Licks songs is I’m An Old Cowhand because of the tongue-in-cheek presentation of having The Lickettes, two beautiful women, sing a cowboy song. The anthem for a generation, I Scare Myself, is also a great song and I was happy when they played that. I would have liked to hear Moody Richard but enjoyed everything they did so much that I hardly missed it. Their musicianship is extraordinary.
    And the laughs – oh, the laughs! “We do take requests — but not at this time.” Dan’s humorous way of silencing the folks who were shouting out song names. Band intros – “The heir to the Taco Bell fortune” (for David Bell), “Daria – welcome to the area” (for Daria), and “Four time Grammy award loser,” (for bass player Paul Smith).
    It was one of the best live shows I have ever seen, made all the more special because it was my first time, but hopefully not last, to see the fabulous Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.

  2. paul smith says

    What am I,chopped liver? Paul Smith,bassist ,DanHicks & the Hot Licks
    AKA, great review (sort of) thanks,Paul

  3. Daria says

    Hi everyone,

    This is Daria. I actually am the cartoon!!! Shhh…don’t tell anyone! Great review. Thanks!

  4. Sherry Murray says

    Dan, I just love your music. I’m 51 and first heard your stuff when I was in High School in the 70’s at a friends house!! Been hooked ever since. I’ve been happily married too my best friend Butch for 25 years. He too is a Fan!! We live in Littleton Colorado and this will be our third time seeing you. We will continue too be a Fan as long as your around. You just seem like the kinda guy you would just like too have a drink and a laugh with!! They broke the mold with you sir!! Take Care!! Sher

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