The celebrated Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks will bring their original classic blend of “folk jazz” to Grass Valley audiences when they visit for a special Center for the Arts performance Friday.
Hicks has been writing new material for his upcoming album and plans to debut new songs on Friday night. Strong on vocals, the Hot Licks and Lickettes present “I Feel Like Singin”- a revue of lingual lyrical loquaciousness designed to dazzle and delight.”
Since the 1960s Hicks has captivated listeners with his unique mix of swing, jazz, folk and country music. The lyrics of his tunes range from the simply sublime to the sublimely ridiculous. Over the years, Hicks has developed a following for his sense of rhythm, laid-back vocalizing and infamous on-stage wit. “I consider myself, in a certain way, a jazz artist. I also consider myself a folk artist. I’m a folk guy. I’m a jazz guy,” Hicks said.
At a concert celebrating his 70th birthday last year, Hicks played at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco joined by Maria Muldaur, Van Dyke Parks, Rickie Lee Jones, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, John Hammond, Ray Benson (of Asleep at the Wheel) and Harry Shearer (of Spinal Tap). Hicks is finally getting the notoriety he never received playing the dance halls of the 1960s psychedelic era.
He earned a degree in broadcasting from San Francisco State College in 1959. About that time he picked up the guitar and was soon playing and singing in local coffee houses in the San Francisco folk music scene.
In the spring of 1965, Hicks, by chance, became the drummer for a San Francisco folk-rock group called, The Charlatans. That summer, the band found employment at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nev. known for its acid-dropping hallucinogen-fueled dances, a direct inspiration for the legendary psychedelic San Francisco dancehall scene.
“The dancehall thing happened, if you want to call it the psychedelic scene, the Longshoreman Auditorium, and the gathering of the hippies. I lived in the Haight Asbury at the time, from ’65 to ‘68,” Hicks said.
Hicks played the drums, guitar and sang with The Charlatans at all the noted San Francisco halls without achieving the same level of commercial success as other bands of the era such as: Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
“The Charlatans were kind of dysfunctional anyway. There was no real management, and it was just kind of some loose guys,” Hicks said.
Hicks began putting together an acoustic combo with two female backup singers, who were dubbed “Lickettes.” Billed as Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks, the group - a Django Reinhardt-flavored acoustic ensemble - began as an opening act for The Charlatans.
After a deal with Blue Thumb Records, the “classic” Hot Licks ensemble went on to produce the critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums, “Where’s The Money?” “Striking It Rich” and “Last Train To Hicksville.”
At the height of the band’s popularity, the Hot Licks disbanded in 1973. A solo career followed for Hicks. Today, Hicks tours worldwide with an updated version of the Hot Licks, and occasionally gigs at various jazz venues in the San Francisco Bay Area as a vocalist with his swingin’ combo, Bayside Jazz.
Tickets for his 8 p.m. show Friday are $25 for members of the Center, $28 for non-members and can be purchased at the Center’s box office or at BriarPatch Co-op. For information, go to http://danhicks.net.