Date: March 12 2011
From: Skip Moore
Subject: Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, "Kollege of Musical Knowledge" Program, San Rafael, CA
Finding the Palm Ballroom, a new venue for me, was easy enough to find, as it's
attached to the Seafood Peddler, a funky old restaurant whose bright blue neon
sign radiates below a floodlit sailboat perched atop poles 40 feet high in the
night sky of San Rafael. Once in the unusually crowded parking lot, all I had to
do was follow the commotion and buzz.
These assemblies have made me increasingly aware that, like most other Dan fans,
I'm getting old. A lot of grey hair and glasses, with a kind of wide eyed
anticipation of the show to come; just like me. Great folk; warm and
enthusiastic about life. A large banner was strung across the red velvet curtain
behind the low stage proclaiming "Kollege of Musical Knowledge" flanked by
little dancing musical notes and some Hickesque characters drawn at each end. A
mannequin stood on the corner of the stage with a graduation cap on and a
mandolin slung around her neck. When we found seats, there were Diplomas on each
chair certifying that we had "satisfactorily completed the prescribed course in
Musical Knowledge..." and signed by Dan Hicks, Music Master.
The show started right on time when Ray Bonneville took a chair. While Ray was
new to me, his music wasn't, as I found it to be steeped in New Orleans' raw
visceral sound. Ray played drums with his feet, played undulating melodies on
his guitar and harmonica and sang with a voice that was part Spanish Moss and
part gravel road, with some peach pie to sweeten it up. Yeah, I liked it. After
a short set and a longer break, Dan Hicks, the School's Out Orchestra and the
Whiz Kids Singers took the stage to enthusiastic applause.
From the start Professor Hicks guided us through the evolution of American
music, starting with the Blues, moving into Jazz, Country Swing, Rock and ending
up in the Hicksville musical realm that we're all so familiar with. The six
piece School's Out Orchestra was made up of Paul Smith on bass, Paul Robinson on
guitar, Brian Cook on piano, Louis Aissen on flute/tenor, Brian Simpson on drums
and of course The Tall One front and center. Along the left side were the Whiz
Kids Singers, Daria, Roberta, Jimmy Dillon and Tim Eschliman. Throughout the
performance, the collective sounds and individual solos of these talented
musicians kept everyone enthralled as Dan guided them through varying styles and
tempos. What more could a guy ask for on a Saturday night?
I've posted what I could get of the setlist below.
Thanks, Dan & band for another tremendous foray into the vast depths of your
musical knowledge. The diploma's mounted on my board where it will continue to
remind me of the gifts you've so generously shared with us.
Gotta Right to Sing the Blues
Smoke That Cigarette
Sub Terrainian Homesick Blues
I scare Myself
Long Come a Viper
Piano Has Been Drinkin'
Love Me Like a Rock
Encore: Four or Five Times