Date: Dec. 9 2009
Subject: Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Yoshi's, Oakland, CA
Caught the 10pm show last night at Yoshi's, the Bay Area's premier jazz club. Yoshi's is a cozy medium-sized quarter-circle room with tiers of booths and tables looking down on a medium-sized stage, all seats are good.
Dan displayed his impeccable taste in opening acts, sharing the gig with piano-playing Bob Dorough ("door-row") (with a bass and drums). Dorough apparently played with Miles and Charlie Parker and the like. He sang a number of light-hearted songs and accompanied himself with a sparse, loose playing style. I''m Hip, Better than Anything "(but love"), and a few others. He told a story about Miles wanting him to write a Christmas tune for an album to which Columbia wanted him to contribute, imitating Miles' low hoarse voice. So he wrote him a dark, anti-consumerist tune, and last night dueted with Dan on it. V. entertaining. That was followed by Dan's straight-up rendition of Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.
Then on comes Dan and the Lickettes and the Lickmen. Started off with Evenin' Breeze, and included Feel Like Singin' (which Dan unconvincingly claimed was a Christmas song), Piano Has Been Drinkin', Scare Myself, Old Cowhand, plus several others, including Christmas tunes like Cool Yule. Had Bob Dorough join them on Dan's special Christmas lyrics version of Song for My Father ("They named him St. Nick, But that didn't stick, So now he's Santa .... The Man."). Dorough had a couple of nice short solos playing that Horace Silver tune.
Seemed like a quick set. The songs were all the long version, with multiple solos. The crew seemed to be hamming it up a bit more than usual, which can mask how good they are playing. Daria and Roberta each had dynamite verses in Feel like Singin', including some scatting. At some point when they had just had some over-the-top moment and the audience was applauding, Dan held up his hands and said "Don't encourage 'em!". David Bell was cooking all night (as usual), especially on the walk-through-a-dark-forest passage of Scare Myself. Paul Smith was his usual solid, bouncy bass self. Richard Chon on fiddle and mandolin seemed even more restrained than usual; I'd like to see him come out with spiked green hair some night and go nuts. And Dan allowed himself some flashes on his rhythm guitar.
When they came out for the encore (Pennies From Heaven), the audience first sang Dan Happy Birthday, much to his initial consternation and eventual appreciation. Said he was happy being 68, that he loved what he does for a living, and urged all parents to have their children learn a musical instrument. (Before the show, I said Happy Birthday Dan as he was passin' by, eliciting a Unnhh.)
All in all, a jolly time was had by all.