Date: May 20 2009
From: Mike Zim
Subject: Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, The Cedar, Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis, May 16
On Saturday night, Dan followed exactly the black-buzzard-like show strategy he outlined in last Monday's KFAI Freewheelin' interview: "Fly in, kill 'em, get their bread, split back, and relax." They did kill, an enthusiastic almost-capacity crowd of 400+. "This is quite a turnout. We usually play to about 7 people."
During the show, there were frequent shout outs, questions, and requests, which Dan always smartly squashed (with one exception) with a variety of kiss offs:
"We'll now be accepting your comments; You know, we didn't prepare ALL the songs; Yes sir, we REALLY like inane stuff being hollered out; OK, we'll now have a 10-minute period for questions and answers; Back in the 60's, Johnny Carson remarked that when people see you on TV a lot, they start thinking you're their friend, and get familiar with you in person. Well, that's not the case here."
These call-out/swatdown exchanges were rich. The asserters in the audience inspired a bagful of slick put-downs and rejoinders. All his large shows should have a sprinkling of them.
It was swell to meet gung-ho Hickster Bruce Monson. (Were those ladies really the original Doublemint twins?)
The stage walk-on, setup, pick-donning, etc, had a running commentary: "Dan is in the building. Dan and the band aren't quite ready to start, but will be soon." More in this vein, and finally, in a Don Pardo voice: "And now, we're proud to present DAN HICKS AND THE HOT LICKS, performing a cavalcade of Americana, Tin Pan Alley, and other genres." Then, in a show businessy, false-sincere voice, "Why, THANK you, Mr. Announcer Man. We're SO happy to be here,....". etc.
Dan played a multi-escutcheoned Epiphone.
The set included some of the fine older stuff, which I've not heard live that often:
4 or 5 Times
Avalon (Tip top solos by Dave, Paul, and Richard.)
Blues My Naughty Baby Taught Me
I'm An Old Cowhand (With a tasteful melodica solo by Daria.) Jazzy vocal spin by the ladies.
The Diplomat (Roberta & Daria on kazoos) (When Dan introduced the song as being about some of the things that bug him, someone shouted apprehensively: "UH-OH". Perfect touch.)
I Scare Myself (Dave's work was impeccable, as usual.)
My Blue Heaven (Dan on snare, Dan & Ladies dancing, to the audience's delight. (What's funnier than a tall, imposing guy, of stately embonpoint, pausing mid-dance-routine, and giving us a coy, over-the-shoulder look?)) "That's the kind of song that keeps us off the radio." Audience interjection: "And off the TV."
Beedle-Um-Bum (Miss Simmy down in Tennessee, covered by Kweskin. Then a brief disquisition on "covering".)
Song For My Father
The Buzzard Was Their Friend. ("This is basically a song about a buzzard. And his friends. It inventories the drugs we were taking at that time. This song alone is worth the price of admission tonight. It's so popular, there's even a website for it, TheBuzzWasTheirFriend.net.") (At another time, Dan mentioned that "all the band members have their own websites, like PaulSmith.org, where you can catch up on their projects." Interjection: "Does that mean it's non-profit?" Dan: "We'll get into that later." These comments about the inter-web suggest Dan's not quite as unschooled as he lets on.) [And to think, I was generously considering offering to help him set up an AOL e-mail account. Not now!]
Tangle Tales promo song, done in a 60's corporate, commercial style. (sample lyric: "A press of the mouse gets the song in your house.") Afterward, he mused "It would be funny if that becomes the biggest hit of the album."
How Can I Miss You?
Then Bruce loudly requested "Viper. Viper!" No response.
Lastly, Dan pointed to Bruce, and announced: "Now we're going to play Viper, at the request of THAT man." (Is such a signal honor at all tainted, by peeking at the set list laying on the stage, and anticipating the last song?)
At the signing table, Dan passed out postcards, which had the photo of them on the Flip Wilson show, raffishly dressed:
Overall, a great night of chills, swing, and whimsy. Happy Hickster hippies all around.
On Monday, several of the KFAI (show co-sponsor) radio programs buzzed about the night, and the album, prolonging the warm afterglow. The Bop Street DJ read the T Tales title song write-up, including the scat lyrics.
It was highly energizing to share the airspace of that hi-falutin', rootin' scattin', son of gun from San Francisco, big time jazzman DAN,......playin' with his raggy, BAND......dancin' round with great, ELAN......makin' smiles throughout the LAND.