COMBINED REPORTS - Dan's 60th Birthday Bash, The Warfield, San Francisco CA, December 9 2001
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 09:24:06 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Post Bash Brief
From: Kathy and Ken
Hi all, The Big Birthday Bash is now history. It was announced over the PA that it *will* be available on DVD in the New Year, so all will be able to share in the event!
We are bleary-eyed, a little sleep-deprived, and kind of overwhelmed with all the excitement, but wanted to post a few highlights of the evening.
* It was an amazing sight to see the curtains part, to behold some 45 or so musicians swinging out with "You Got To Believe" for the opening number.
* The ladies of the Lickette Brigade provided many high moments, "too numerous to mention" as of yet, they were all so wonderful.
* Ben Fong-Torres presented Dan with a Proclamation signed by Mayor Willie Brown declaring December 9, 2001 as "Dan Hicks Day" in San Francisco.
* The house was full, and everyone was most appreciative of the wonderful, unforgettable show.
We hope that all of the Hixters in attendance post their reports of this truly special night on the list over the days and weeks to come.
Thanks to Dan for sharing his music and humor with all of us for all these years, and for putting together the show of a lifetime.
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 10:32:10 -0800
Subject: Info on the birthday show you won't find ANYWHERE else...
From: Aaron G
Some interesting items from the birthday show:
First of all, Yes, it really was THAT GOOD...I may never be the same...FAR FAR outdoing any expectations I'd had.
It's OK for men to wear a necklace OUTSIDE the collar of a dress shirt.
Apparently it's also OK to wear a tweed jacket with shorts
Is it just me or did some of those people on stage look like the did quite enough acid in their time?
They don't serve water at the Warfield. Ahh the legacy of Bill Graham...still makin' money, huh Bill?
There was a heckler sitting right by us. He wasn't really that annoying, especially when his heckles consisted of stuff like "Go Steelers" Although, he did try to steel the poster we bought right off our table during intermission.
It's always fun to get people from Minneapolis high outta their minds on california homegrown, come back for more than three days next time...
Some guy brought his own percussion instrument. I made sure to keep an extra "throwing bottle" on my table just in case he tried to play along during the actual show...
Paul Robinson? That guys RULES
Let me get this straight, Willie Brown actually ordained Dan Hicks Day? Goddamn I love this town...
I'm in love with the tall Lickette ('01 series...), anyone who get's me a date with her get's a Harvey Wallbanger at the next show...
Walkin' One and Only...oh man...
OK, did I really count 43 musicians on stage?
I'm also in love with: The lady with the Solid-Gold-Dancer-meets-Cleopatra-Jones red silk dress with the gold sash
Someday I hope that I have the nerve to wear a really bad Cosby sweater, but for now I am weak...
I Scare Myself, News from up the Street, and REELIN' Down? Whoa...
Kathy Diemer, who ARE you? Dan looked right next to me when he thanked you, but I couldn't figure out who you were...
UNLESS, you're the woman with the flower in her hair and the crazy gypsy neck-armor necklace, but I really don't see her as the website type...
The lights on the audience were a little bright, I think I should get a free DVD for my suffering...
Do you think Dan will EVER do Mama I'm an Outlaw live?
Second best show I've seen at the Warfield, it'll be pretty goddamned hard to top the Bauhaus reunion - Ok, so I'm a very lost young man...
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 21:07:29 -0000
Subject: birthday bash "review" from a friend
From: The Grape in Santa Cruz
I attended the Dan Hicks birthday celebration. Actually it was tonight (Sunday Dec. 9th) and I just returned home from it. Yes it did feature the original Hot Licks, including Maryann Price, Naomi Ruth Eisenberg, Sid Page, John Girton and I think the bass player Jaime Leopold too. They did perform many of those "oldies", and it was definitely great to hear the those songs done with the original female vocals and instrumentation, although only a few songs had just the core members.
The show opened and closed with roughly 35 players on stage - billed as every surviving member from all the bands that Dan Hicks had ever been in. There were at least six violinists, six guitarists, six female vocalists, two standup bass players, keys, accordian, saxes, autoharp, drums, etc. etc.
The cast changed on almost every song, except for a couple of songs with the original Hot Licks and a couple of songs with Dan's current Hot Licks. Mostly the night was a mix of various combinations of old and newer members switching around with an average of about 10-20 musicians at a time. Wow! I was hoping myself for a Charlatans set (the San Francisco band whose prime was in 1965 & '66). I guess Dan didn't want to play drums tonight as he did in the Charlatans. At least two members of the Charlatans besides Dan were at the show - George Hunter on Autoharp and Mike Wilhelm on 12 string guitar, but they just played Hot Licks music all night without any of the psychedelicised traditional songs that the Charlatans used to perform. Incidentally, Mike Wilhelm was the only one of the instrumentalists on the stage who looked the least bit like a rock and roller.
The best news is that it was video recorded and an announcement was made that it's scheduled for a DVD release early in 2002. They had a long- armed "steadycam" camera rig floating around above the audience, so it probably came out well.
That's my late night report from Santa Cruz.
Bye for now... Jeff
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 22:17:04 EST
Subject: show report: my memories...
From: Tim Paterson
Whelp, I've been a Dan fan since I first saw him as 3rd billing at the Fillmore in the summer of 1970. In my 40+ times seeing Dan this had to be the most thrilling. I would think other hixters may agree. I arrived in style. Four couples rented a stretch limo and enjoyed the 35 mile ride into and back from the city. I even was interviewed when I got out of the limo by some guy who stuck a video camera in my face and asked why I was here to see Dan ....
I was VERY HAPPY to see the Warfield filled to the brim with Dan fans. I remember all too well a 15 year stretch starting in 1984 where it was a big house if 100 people were there with me to see a show. I made sure to hunt down Kathy and Ken(our webmasters) before the show to drink in the atmostphere and enjoy what was about to happen.
The show opened with a guy who played some very mean piano...Very enjoyable. He also played at intermission AND after the show as we all walked out.
What a sight to see the curtains pulled back showing the whole cast up there. Wow....The first song was 'You Gotta Believe' off Striking it Rich. For you oldtimers who used to own the vinyl remember how the album cover opened up like a matchbook?
I won't go into specifics but I'll touch on my personal highlights. For me it was when Dan brought out just the members of the band when they recorded Where's The Money, a live album and my personal favorite. Then, they went right into News from up the Street, my alltime favorite Dan song, and I was in heaven. Wow, what a night. Other highlights were Canned Music and of Course , I Scare Myself with Sid Page performing some of his famous licks....In that song all three of the violinists there played a little solo....It put chills down my spine....
Anyway, I'll let other hixsters spew their thoughts.... I will not forget this night for a long time..... It started and ended with a stretch limo and in between was pure magic.
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 22:21:39 -0700
Subject: A San Francisco Treat!!
From: Steve Ramirez
What a weekend! What a show! I just got back home, want to post a few thoughts
Hotel Utah- major blast! Guys with video cameras interviewing people, Kathy and Danny on stage doing Dan karaoke. Mary singing "Sweetheart" a-cappella. Got a chance to put faces with names: Hawkeye, Smoky, Mary, Cynthia, David Apelt, Kevin. Bonus for me: I found out that the owner went to high school with me!! (but I still didnt get to drink for free) Thanks Cynthia for suggesting it, David for organizing it and the rest of you nuts for showing up!!
I'll try not to repeat what everyone has already said, but some of it will be unavoidable....
Stood in line for a bit prior to the show... as it turned out we were standing right behind a Dixieland Dude (whose name I forgot) I forgot his explanation as to why he was standing in line with the rest of us bums instead of being inside with the rest of the Dudes, but it made sense. Then we got let in. This was my first time to the Warfield (unlike Dan, I only saw the Dead when they came to my town). A very nice place for a show of this magnitude. Some huge "Welcome to Hicksville" with some very interesting artwork posters adorned the walls as we came in. The guys with the video cameras from last night were there tonight as well. Got located, situated and after a 30 or so minute set by Mitch Woods, the lights dimmed and the PA guy announced that this show was going to be DVD'ed(yay). Then the curtain opened to one of the most incredible sights I've ever seen! Several generations of Hot Licks, Charlatans, Dixieland Dudes, Acoustic Warriors , Bayside Jazzians all jamming on "You Gotta Believe". At this point all I can say is thank God there is going to be a DVD because there were so many HUGE moments during this concert it will take a while for me to remember them all, so here are some of my highlights:
- Dan singing "Saving My Loving" with the Opinions (his version of the Pips)
- Sid's reminding us why "I Scare Myself" gives us goosebumps
- Dan used to sing both the male and female parts in Evening Breeze, and give bizarre explanation as to the whereabouts of the Lickettes, this time he had no excuses and they sounded great!
- Maryann doing "Im an Old Cowhand"
- Dan's little verbal exchanges with Sherry Snow, too funny!
- Songs I never thought I would hear again (with Lickettes) live if my lifetime: News for Up The Street, Walkin One and Only, Reelin Down
- Dan doing his "Milk Shakin Mama" dance with 6 Lickettes at once
- David La Flamme?? Are you kidding me? He still cooks!
- Watching the lineup changes between songs
- The whole audience singing "Happy Birthday" to Dan
- My favorite quote of the night "Thanks to Clare Wasserman Hicks for being my old lady..."
so much more to report but I'm getting tired... it was so great to meet those of you who I met, at the show and the open mike (you know who you are), and I'm so glad that they are making the DVD for those you couldn't make it. But never fear, Dan said he wants to do this again on his 75th birthday! Were gonna hold you to that, Dan.
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 02:17:55 -0600
Subject: More: A San Francisco Treat
From: Aaron "Smokey" Arnold
It's late, and I have just returned home to Austin, along with Maryann and Tary. In the four years I have known her, I have never seen Maryann walking around singing Dan's songs casually to herself in a cheerful, reminiscent tone, as I have today. Her spirits seem lifted very high by the experience, and I can't say I'm surprised. She was so pleased to see so many old friends, and participate among such a tight, neatly woven, set of forty some musicians.
My personal highlights: Of course, when Maryann took center stage to do "Cowhand" was my favorite part of the night. Also, Naomi really brought the house down with the hardest driving number of the evening, "We're Not On The Same Trip" backed by The Charlatans. I agree that Sid blew the house away on "I Scare Myself". And "Savin My Lovin" backed by a four part harmony male vocal group, The Opinions. I know that song mainly from SHOOTIN' STRAIGHT, and it was not what I would expect to be enhanced by such a group that I expected to break into a doo-wop song upon first glance. But it was a perfect marriage of four part harmony and Dan's beautiful witty vocalizing. Dan himself sustained that level through the full odyssey of the nights selections. What a job he had. He pulled it off. From "How Can I Miss You" to "Strike It While It's Hot". Each song had him in top form, with his unique satirical edge, that manages to be taken very seriously by him. One of a kind.
Backstage, there was a lot of love and affection in the air. They all seemed right at home with one another. It was also very chaotic. Much like a class reunion, everyone wanted to talk with about twenty five old friends, it seemingly took forever to pin them all down. Maryann asked me to get Sid, Naomi, Jaime, John, and Dan to pose for a picture with her, and it was impossible. Maybe next time. Also, band members were being interviewed on video, one at a time. Maria Muldaur showed up toward the end of the night, and knew everyone there. It's always a pleasure to see her.
As I said, it's late at night, and I just skimmed the previous emails. They seem to have covered the show pretty well. Excuse me if it's been mentioned already, but after the show, all were invited to a club called Enricos. They had an open mike jam there which included Maryann singing "They Can't Take That Away From Me", Maria Muldaur doing "Santa Baby", Sherry Snow (who goes by I different name now, I forgot it) doing "When Sunny Gets Blue", Susan Rabin leading the house in a swinging birthday song, Patti Urban singing a wonderful jazz song I was not familiar with, don't know the title (sorry), Naomi once again stealing the show with a phenomenal "'Round Midnight, and Dan doing "Bye Bye Blackbird". Dan was on guitar and drum brushes for some of the time, and John Girton played guitar the whole time I was there. They sounded like they'd been rehearsing all day. I guess, in a way, they had been. They all showed that they still had a passion for their playing as if they had just started. Then again, do good musicians ever burn out? Several band members and a lost of die hard fans were present as well.
I had never met Sherry at all, and had just met Naomi on the phone. They both look phenomenal for their age. If I did not know of them, and was working the age guessing booth at an amusement park, I would say somewhere in the early thirties. I don't know their exact ages, but considering when they joined up, simple math tells us they look like they drank from the fountain of youth.
I had promised I'd share the birthday card with you all. I sent an attachment that looks more like it was prtinted, and below in plain text. Thank you to all who added there words to Dan. In the end, it was, I believe, one or two less than last year. I gave the card to Dan's wife, Clare, after the concert. She said "Thanks, I'll make sure he gets it."
Now, as Maryann might say, time to catch up on some Zs!!
Aaron "Smokey" Arnold
'It's not my time to go'
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 12:04 pm
Subject: Setlist and more details..
From: Steve Ramirez
OK, I did not write a setlist, this is strictly from memory, I know some of this may be slightly off, but its how I remember. Please feel free to fill in the gaps or correct me
Dave Bell and Paul Robinson were the main guitar men for the evening.
BTHL (Blue Thumb Hot Licks)
NHL=new hot licks
You Got to Believe (all)
Shootin' Straight (NHL)
How Can I Miss You when you wont go away (NHL)
Canned Music (BTHL)
Walking one and only (BTHL)
News From Up The Street (BTHL)
I'm An Old Cowhand (BTHL)
Payday Blues (BTHL)
Reelin Down (BTHL)
Evening Breeze (BTHL)
We're Not on the Same Trip (Mike Wilhelm, Naomi)
another song sung by Mike Wihelm(?)
a song with Patti Urban singing lead, cant remember which
Dan, Dick and John playing a Kingston Trio style song about San Franscisco Blues(?) Very nice and mellow.
There were one or two songs with some serious sax solos, I dont remember the sax players name but I believe he was from Xmas Jug Band.
Saving My Loving (Dan and the Opinions) as desribed by someone else, a very doo-wopish version.
Milk Shaking Mama (Jaime played bass)
I Scare Myself (violin solos from David La Flamme, Brian Godchaux and Sid Page, Richard Saunders on bass fiddle), Dan did his "guitar solo" as Paul Robinson provided the licks. Incredible.
ENCORE- The Buzzard Was Their Friend - The main thing I remember about this song is that all gutiar players had a few solo licks, it was great to hear Jon Weber and Paul Mehling addlng their unique style of licks.
OK my brain hurts now, I think this is all I can remmember at this time... better go double up on the Gingko
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 10:26:36 -0800
Subject: Bash Thoughts
The DVD will tell the tale, but I thought I'd post a personal note or two about the show.
I have to say that it's been a long time since any show has affected me like this one.
There were moments when I felt like I was tripping... when Dan's music transcended itself and the moment, becoming a kind of beautiful rising energy, much more than the sum of its parts. No, I had not ingested hallucinogens of any sort... not even the mild smokable kind. It was simply Dan's music in the hands of the ideal musicians. Just remarkable.
Some high points of the show for me were:
Opening with "You Got To Believe".
Every tune done by the "classic" Hot Licks lineup. They truly have the sound. How sweet, indeed!
"I Scare Myself", with otherwordly violin work by Sid Page, David LaFlamme, and the rest.
Dan's telling of his youthful Market Street caramel corn incident.
There's so much more. It was an unforgettable evening, and my hat is permanently doffed to Dan and all those fantastic musicians. Thank you, one and all!
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 11:58:03 -0800
Subject: BD Bash notes from the desert...
From: Buffalo Al and Queenie
Having made it home safely to our desert abode and having a day, a night and a 7 hour car trip to reflect upon the show, here is what we think about the events of Sunday night in San Francisco:
The Dan Hicks Birthday Bash was superlative, even for San Francisco. Tears of happiness were shed at the Warfield theater that night. Dan Hicks Day in San Francisco...That's so cool.
Dan looked more at ease than I have ever seen him--happy even. Some nervousness was evident in some of the group but once the music started everyone got in the groove. Dan should always have a 40 piece band with a string section!
I want Mitch Woods to warm up the crowd at all MY birthday parties.
Naomi Eisenburg stole the show.
Sherry Snow's sweet voice could be heard above everyone else when she was hitting it. Reminded me of the pleasure I've always gotten from "Original Recordings." Her impertinent exchanges with Dan certainly showed some undercurrents of the past and seemed to indicate that all has been forgiven, all the way around. I liked that.
Susan and Anabelle were gracious and definitely in charge of the Lickette side of the stage. They put the HOT in "Hot Licks!"
I never would have believed that I would get to see Dan and all the originals (not to mention practically everyone else he has ever played with). It was overwhelming. Way too much to process in one sitting. Thank goodness that Surfdog saw the potential in making the DVD for prosperity. It's gonna take some watching to really get everything that happened that night.
It was great to make so many new friends at the Utah and the Warfield this weekend. Everyone was cool and had their heads on straight. I'm really glad we got to share the experience with you all.
Regrettably, we missed the party at Enrico's, but Queenie had foot surgery a couple weeks ago and couldn't hack any more walking around after the show. Our friends Mike and Pat made it though!
Thanks Dan, for inviting us to your birthday party. We had a lot of fun. Let's do it again next year!
Buffalo Al and Queenie
A coupla Hixters from the desert...
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 13:18:29 -0800
Subject: A couple more thoughts
From: Steve Ramirez
I ate a healthy lunch and a couple of extra brain cells kicked in: "Strike It While It's Hot" was in the show. (ok I was looking to see if Bette was gonna come out... she didnt)
In addition to the presentation of the plaque commemorating Dan Hicks Day, Dan also got a special recognition from ASCAP. I wonder if that makes him eligible for some "Lifetime Achievement" award at a Grammy show. Maybe we'll see Dan and Brittany Spears together yet!
"And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting a special lifetime acheivemnt award to Dan Hicks... Britney Spears!!"
"Like, you know, I'm here to like, make a presentation or something, to this really cool old dude, OH DAMMIT, some of my glitter fell off! Can't any of you motherf**king makeup artists to ANYTHING right, GAWD I am SOOO embarrassed... this is like the WORST night of my life.. I mean first of all, the limo for my dog was late and then when I finally got to this dive.. WHAT DO YOU MEAN GET OFF THE STAGE, DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM, MOTHERF***ER? I OWN THE GRAMMY AWARDS!!!... "
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 14:00:09 -0800
Subject: Re: [hix] A couple more thoughts
From: David A from the East Bay
Yo Steve, I loved it - the ASCAP presentation featured a subtle yet puzzled response from Dan - "Yeah, Thanks, Jim" .
It was also cool hearing Ben Fong-Torres sing Dan's KSAN jingle so well, and get complimented for it by Dan. We sure could use KSAN now, hoo boy . . .
In the 80's, Dan did a great jingle for the late, lamented Prune Music in Mill Valley - "If you're looking for a place to shop, Prune music is the place to stop . . . " I'd love to get a recording of that, it's like a good outtake from a record.
Dan's extra baggy 30's black-stripe viper pants were Very Cool indeed. And the giant "South Pacific Idyll cloud passing in front of the moon" humongous backdrop was perfect for that enormous cast. I really dug the swing of so many violins plucking and sawing in unison, and the guitars were like a lush bed of cool grass to lay the vocals on top of. "San Francisco Bay Blues" was a definite highlight.
For me, "Evenin' Breeze" has always been Desert Island top 10, so I got a particular kick out of Maryann and Naomi coming to the front of the stage to get sassy with it. And Maryann just floored me with "Old Cowhand". Hearing "We're Not on The Same Trip" was hard rockin' bliss, and a great performance from Naomi.
John Girton really was polished on his leads, did anyone notice his overall excellence throughout the show ?
And it was a brave accordianist indeed that soloed on "Buzzard was their Friend", (!) The short scat solo from Maryann on that rocked !
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 15:36:41 -0800
Subject: What an Event!
I'm an admitted newcomer to this forum. However, I've been a fan of Dan's since the late 60's. Coming of [an] age in the Bay Area in the mid to late 60s exposed me to alot of fine local music. Some have stayed and I've stayed with them - Boz Scaggs, Santana, Tower of Power and of course Dan. Some are missing and I miss them - Country Joe, Quicksilver, Steve Miller. Some are gone and I cried - Bill Graham, Jerry Garcia, Ken Kesey.
When we shifted from vinyl to CD, I dutfully replaced my Hot Licks collection, glad to get rid of the party inflicted pops and scratches, rediscovering the crystal ambiance of the recordings. But otherwise had thought of Dan as a part of a once colorful past. Then I discovered "Alive and Kickin' at the Tower listening station and have worn it out, gleeful in the realization that he was still alive and definitly kickin'.
So when the Warfield show was announced I was all over it. I had become kinda calloused to performances, having experienced the magic of the Avalon Ballroom, Speedway Meadows, Fillmore, Winterland, etc., it just all kind of rings hollow anymore. (Oh, Boz did a great show at the Warfield 2 weeks ago, so it seems I'm on a roll.) How was I to know that Dan's Birthday bash would return me to the magic of the music. As Ken so ably put it, I was trippin, transported to another plane of consciousness, grinning with a rediscovered joy. Only unlike the 60's, I was without a chemical or organic catalyst. I was SKYIN', man. Tear filled bliss, heart resting on the multitude of strings resonating from the front of the house, soaring on wings of the event, powered by the energy of the gathering. Maybe it was the collective memory of the assembled musicians and fans. More likely it was the transcendental nature of the performance. I haven't touched ground again since.
Thank you for the valuable and insightful other posts I've received. I feel I've opened a dooor to an old family home. And thank you Dan for a most cherished addition to my musical memories, and for recharging my beliefs
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 22:35:37 -0600
Okay, listen up. I just had the best weekend of my life visiting San Francisco and seeing our Main Man at the Warfield and finally getting to meet Kathy & Ken AND meeting the rest of the Hixsters. So I get home, begging for a little sleep and before you know it, it's time to go to work. Finally, Thursday night arrives, my usual night out at the local watering hole (they just got a "Internet" juke box about two months ago, without any Dan) and I get back in town to find Last Train and Where's The Money available for download. I spent more on the jukebox than I did buying the original albums(I'm talking vinyl). I asked the barkeeps how Dan got on the juke, and they all swear it was just a coincidence (they all knew why I was absent last weeke nd). Whoa!
This is NO SHIT!
Still on cloud nine,
PS Stay well everyone ;^ }
From Mary Averill:
What a party!!! It was a true pleasure to meet up with a bunch of Hixsters last weekend. I think I have recovered. It took a few days to get caught up at home and put together some thoughts about the show, so here goes. The Open Mike evening was just great. Kathy and Danny were real troopers on stage and even figured out a few chords so I didn't have to sing Sweetheart completely acapella. Putting faces with names was a lot of fun and I hope to get a chance to meet up with this gang again sometime. The show Sunday night was beyond great. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face the whole evening. True, it took a while for everyone to swing together, but after a couple of songs it sounded terrific. There were a couple of times that the look on Dan's face was priceless. He seemed so happy and was really having a good time. Especially during the final encore when everybody on stage got to take a solo, I felt like he was holding court. The fiddle playing has always been a high point of the Hot Licks sound for me and to see so many good fiddlers there was a treat. I love Brian's recent work with Dan, but hearing Symphony Sid was truly sublime. Mary Ann has been my singing idol for a long time and she very kindly signed a personal autograph for me during the break. I agree with the previous posts that Naomi looked fantastic. I had the CD insert from Where's the Money with me and I swear she looked the same, maybe even better, than in those pictures. I had to miss the after show party to hang with my cousin. We closed some bar near the Warfield and I flew home the next day with a hangover. Yuck! That DVD better come out soon, because there was just too much to remember it all. Cynthia, I look forward to seeing your photo work and you can count on me for one of the collages. Thanks, Dan!!
DAN HICKS BIRTHDAY BASH and HOT LICKS REUNION
December 9, 2001
Warfield Theatre - San Francisco, California
Saturday, December 8 My partner Nancy Hotaling and I flew in to Oakland Saturday morning December 8 and took the BART train over to Powell Street in San Francisco, then a bus up to our friend, Shag Hearne’s apartment. Nancy had given me concert and airplane tickets for my birthday in November. Shag lives in an apartment between Nob Hill and Russian Hill. Shag is tall, thin, sedately outrageous, and the Muse of Musicians, particularly the band Little Feat, of whom she is one of the world’s leading experts. She pulled out from her archives a couple of packs of Dan Hicks’ 'Strikin It Rich' matchbooks, which were a promotional item way back when the album came out. A very rare item today.
We messed around during the morning and early afternoon walking around North Beach to City Lights Bookstore and then down into the heart of the city. We were headed towards the first of the Pre-Game Show events held by the Hixlist. David and Rose Apelt had very kindly arranged these events for us. They did a great job. The main activity was a jam at the Hotel Utah from 6 to 8 pm, but in order not to look totally ridiculous on stage, the plans were to meet at a restaurant called Momo’s first, at 4:30 pm, to work out the show for the Utah.
We arrived on foot at Momo’s right at 4:30 pm and were the only ones there. The young woman at the front desk didn’t know anything about the event other than that someone had phoned about it earlier. So we sat and waited. A few minutes later David and Rose Apelt arrived looking around and we found each other. We went into the bar. I immediately liked both of them. Buffalo Al and Queenie, of California City, arrived shortly afterwards. It was kind of amazing how much we all had in common besides our love of Dan Hicks’ music. Immediate rapport. Kathy Diemer and Kennon Baird, of Fremont, California arrived next.. I really wanted to meet them since I have been communicating with them for years, and they have done so much for the rest of the Dan Hicks fans in the world. Shag was showing around her Strikin’ It Rich matchbook to great "oohs" and "ahs" from the fan club. Dave shared some pictures of DHHL millenium concert in Santa Rosa.
Two great guys from North Carolina, Robert Sprye and Danny Keever showed up and entertained us immediately with their Southern accents. Both were musicians. I am pretty bad with names and I was starting to go into overload at this point, because more people arrived from all over and I couldn’t keep track of it all. Anyway, nobody planned anything for the Hotel Utah. And it was about time to go over to the Hotel Utah, so we all headed over that way. Nancy and I bummed a ride with David and Rose and Shag showed Robert and Danny how to get there in their rental car.
I don’t think anybody really knew what was going to happen at the Hotel Utah, but when we arrived at 6 pm everybody remarked that it was the perfect place for the event. It is an old hotel bar with a long bar and a sunken ro om down a couple of stairs as you passed under the stern of a boat. The room was dark wood and black, with some booths, tables and chairs. A little raised stage off to the left. "Very Hixian" was the term used. It was easy to visualize O’Reilly sitting at the bar saying "I’m gonna smash your face."
Since nobody knew what was going to happen, nobody did anything, but drink. Two of the requirements the Hotel Utah gave to David Apelt was that we had to spend $150 as a group, and we had to get out at 8 o’clock before the real entertainment got there. Lots of other people started showing up who had not made it to Momo’s. Steve Ramierez arrived from Mesa, Arizona. He is another one I really wanted to meet, cuz he started the Hixlist and website and like Kathy and Ken, have done a lot for the rest of us. Another person I wanted to meet who showed up was Smokey Arnold from Austin, Texas, confidante to Maryann Price and regular contributor to the Hixlist. Cynthia arrived from Alaska with her camera, Leslie Legendre and Bill Hawayer from New Orleans came and were really fun. We met a woman who had come from Iowa, and a pretty nurse from Boston, and there was somebody from Seattle, and I was really reaching name overload.
A videographer showed up with camera and lights to shoot some interviews of fans for a DVD video to commemorate the event. He set up at the top of the stairs near the bar and pulled up anyone who wanted to be interviewed.
Finally Kathy Diemer and Danny Keever took the lead and broke out instruments. Kathy had a guitar and Danny a mandolin. Everyone was thankful to the two of them for knowing enough Dan Hicks’ songs to keep us going for over an hour. I had wondering who was going to be Dan Hicks at this event, and it was Kathy who was marvelous leading the group in a ragged sing-along. Danny filled in for all the instrumental Hot Licks doing the solos. He was really good. Various people got up through out the night and contributed. Cynthia came up to the mike and was The Lickettes for several songs. People in the audience sang along or played various rhythm instruments that were available. As their Hicks repertoire ran its course, a few other songs were performed. The absolute highlight was Robert Sprye’s rendition of a hilarious country (not western) tune about chewing tobacco. All-in-all it was a very fine time, and kind of like the bonfire pep rally the night before the big Homecoming Game. Our time was up and I think the bar must have made their $150 a couple of times over. After it was over, Steve Ramierez invited everyone to meet tomorrow night before the concert at 5:30 pm at the bar in his hotel, The Hotel Milano, about three blocks from the Warfield Theatre.
Sunday Night - The Hotel Milano - After a day of prowling the Bay near Fort Mason Nancy, Shag and I took a cable car into the Market District. It was jumping and full of traffic, so we got off early and walked to the Hotel. We got to the bar about 5:45 to find Steve and three or four other Hicksters having drinks. This was a rather elegant bar with big glass windows and light sconces and drapes and stuff. I think the bar was black marble. If it wasn’t, it should have been. A distinguished gray-haired bartender served up cocktails and espresso, and was extremely slow at it. Another Manhattan for me and an espresso for Nancy. We talked a little bit, but everyone was getting so charged up for the concert that there was little to do but get antsy. The doors of the Warfield Theatre were to open at 6:30 pm for the 8:00 pm concert. Since all the best seats were on the floor, and the floor was general admission with no seat assignments, we hoped to get in line early. Steve and his friends left the bar first, and here is where the slow bartender got a little irritating. We were trying to pay our bill and he kept doing everything else, very slowly. Finally we got out of there. Even being late we caught up with Steve and company.
The Warfield Theatre - Hoping to get there early, we found, when we arrived, a line half a block long. Kathy and Ken were just ahead of us.Steve Ramierez and his friends right behind us. Robert Spyre and Danny Keever were right there with us too.
Another guy in line ahead of us turned out to be an old band member with Dan, but was not performing tonight. He and his wife had on the coolest 60th Birthday Bash t-shirts. They are similar to the posters, but different. And they were cool. I was envious and greedily desirous of one. We thought they would be on sale inside, but they weren’t. So if you can score one of those you must be an insider. We saw a couple of other insiders also with T-shits come out of the theatre and come over to this guy next to us. Finally they took him backstage. Lucky dog.
So while we were standing in line for probably half an hour, we checked out the action on Market Street, the constant stream of panhandlers hitting up the crowd for money. A guy came by with a big box holding an ice cream cake. He said it was left over from a party they had given for Dan and they wanted to share it with the crowd. Some people were wondering if we might get a little dose of acid in the cake. You know, San Francisco-acid-musicians, they kind of go together in your mind. It wasn’t, I am happy to say, but it was good cake.
A couple of people were going along the line looking for tickets. A guy next to us had an extra ticket. He sold the $30 ticket for $30 to a thin young guy in a cowboy outfit. The ticket seller said he ate the $8 service charge he had to pay to the ticket Mafia. The opposite of scalping. I probably would have asked for $38.
So we were out there. It was chilly, and we were checking out what everyone was wearing. Some casual, some retro-hippie, a plethora of goofy fedora hats on men, but the winners of the clothes contest were Kennon Baird for the men and Shag Hearne for the women. Ken had on this tasteful tailored suit, little bow tie, and these outrageous shoes with white tops and some kind of little design on them. They kind of looked like fur. Shag wore her trademark black beret and a very feminine “old timey baby” red dress with little grey lozenge-shaped sort of polka dots. A black furry coat over it to ward off the cold. Old fashioned, but showing a little leg. One of the Lickettes, Susan Rabin, even commented on Shag’s dress later after the show.
Well, FINALLY they opened up the theatre and the stampede for seats began. The ornate, elegant looking Warfield Theatre was built in the 1920s as a vaudeville house. It opens on the north side of Market Street in the very center of the city of San Francisco. The theatre seats about 2500 on the floor and the large balcony. The walls are very ornate, encrusted with rococo plaster designs in beige and gold gilts. Fluted columns define the edges of the proscenium, which curves upward over the stage in a huge spiraling arch. A big gently sloping balcony covered two-thirds of the space above the main floor.
On each side of the stage were the balconies from what would have been the preferred loge seats where the Queen of England probably would have sat had anybody bothered to tell her that Dan was having his 60th birthday bash. Ornate gold cartouches decorated the front of the loge balcony. Across the seating area behind the balcony was a dark burgundy velvet curtain. On the curtain was a large circular wreath of tiny magenta lights. Above the loge box was a tall gilt lattice that stretched up toward the tall ceiling. It probably hid the theatre’s speakers. The ceiling had a fresco painting of figures stretching across the width of the theatre. Lining the side walls of the balcony were rows of pseudo loges with fake balconies each with an ornate cartouche shield. Quite an elegant theatre.
The Warfield is part of Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium empire. It has hosted concerts by The Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and scores of other bands. A lot of information on it and photographs of it can be found online if you do a search on Google or Yahoo. On our rush through the lobby we saw the wall lined with photo posters of the rock and roll giants who have played the Warfield.
A television crew was set-up to record the event for a DVD. A stationary camera on a tripod was centrally located on the main floor probably to cover Dan, the Man. Two handheld camera were on each side of the stage, and a big old black camera jib was on the floor to the right of the stage. All night long it kept flying in over our heads towards the stage. On the way into the theatre we passed a sign warning us of the taping and claiming if we went in, we agreed to be on TV. At the bottom of the sign it said “Coming Home Productions 13701 Riverside Drive Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.”
We lucked out and got great seats 4th row center. They really jam ‘em in there. I commandeered one of the little black round cocktail tables to do the sketches which accompany this narrative. Everybody settled into seats. The North Carolina boys were next to us. We met a guy who had flown in from Seattle in front of us. A little closer to the stage and off to the right were Leslie and Bill from New Orleans. David and Rose Apelt were right over there too. Steve Ramierez was one row ahead and a little to the left of center. Kathy and Ken got special seats reserved somewhere. I was happy that all our new friends all seemed to get great seats. There was so much anticipation of a great, historic show about to happen.
The Opening Act - An offstage announcer welcomed the audience and pointed out that everyone was in store for a unique and remarkable night. He introduced the opening act, Mitch Woods, a pianist. Mitch plays with a Bay Area band called the Rocking 88s. He came out wearing a warm beige suit, probably camel hair, and matching goofy fedora. He sat down at a beautiful black Steinway grand piano and played a selection of honky tonk styled songs like Honeysuckle Rose. Shag said he reminded her of Professor Longhair. Me, too. He was very good and got the night off to a fine start.
He must have played about 20 minutes. Then a break. Bright lights were turned on to illuminate the audience. When a TV show is being done the audience also has to be lit so the camera can see them. Finally the time arrived for what so many fans and musicians had flown in from around the country to be a part of: Dan Hicks and his infectious music and his monstrously talented musician friends.
The Main Event - Announcer introduces "Dan Hicks and his Friends." The huge curtains draw open to reveal Dan and 35-40 musicians. Dan is wearing a shirt with black collars and wide black panels along the front buttons and cuffs. The body of the shirt is orange and green fruit shapes. His trousers were black with tight, thin sparkly stripes, held up by a thin black belt with a simple silver rectangular buckle. He was looking good, with his shiny brown-tan hair combed back on the sides and little flips around central part, a little reminiscent of the style my grandfather wore and called "angel wings" because the two little opposing curls kind of looked like angel’s wings.
1. The entire band broke into You’ve Got To Believe. It was a little overwhelming to hear such a large body of musicians playing a song that usually has a cast of only six or seven players. The tune was followed by thunderous applause from audience of long-time supporters.
2. The full orchestra then went right into Soda Fountain Baby. Everybody, the musicians and the audience, was grooving to the music. We were all trying to pick out who was who. The current Lickettes, Susan Rabin and Anabelle Cruz were up front. The former Lickettes were lined up stage right on a riser behind a row of musicians. The fiddles crossed center stage to stage left. The bass and drums behind them center stage, and some horns behind the violins stage left. A couple of guitarists were interspersed. The grand piano was downstage right. Big fat black speaker stacks were on t he stage wings. Black floor monitors lined the front of the stage. At the end of the song a big explosion of admiration from the crowd.
As the applause died down, a member of the audience yelled out, wishing Dan a Happy Birthday, which was followed with applause from everyone there. Dan thanked the audience and said they were trying to get used to the house and the large size of the band. He started to talk about all his friends, Acoustic Warriors, Bayside Jazz, Mel Torme, Tiny Tim, Eggs Over Easy, Mill Valley, Friends from Santa Rosa with whom he went to school. Dan said, "This is an idea of what it is..". An audience member shouted "Happy Birthday". Dan continued, "and happy birthday to me." Dan mentioned the names of band members so quickly that I could not catch them all. My sincere apologies to band members if I name the wrong people, spell names wrong, or leave someone out. There were just too many of them, and I was trying to enjoy the concert.
3. The assembled musicians exited the stage except for the current members of the band. They performed Waitin’ from the 'It Happened One Bite' album. Dan described how he had been commissioned to write music for an animated movie which never made it into the movie. It is a great song with lots of starts and stops in it. After the tune, Dan said, "That was a nice job by the Stringettes....got to use the 'ettes' thing.....toilets, Lickettes."
4. Shootin’ Straight, originally recorded on the 'Shootin’ Straight' album was next. Dan announced it was from his latest album, 'Alive and Lickin’', not from the older album 'Shootin’ Straight.' The Lickettes sang the phrase "alive and lickin" to promote the album, which drew laughs. After the song Dan introduced the line up of Dave Bell on guitar, Brian Godchaux on fiddle, Tim Bond on Drums, Paul Smith on bass and vocal back-ups by Annabelle Cruz and Susan Rabin, along with Loudon William Wainright III (who wasn’t there at all).
5. The next tune was Strike It While It’s Hot from the 'Beatin’ The Heat' album, again promoted by the Lickettes singing the phrase "Beat, beat, beat, beatin’ the heat." Some of us were sort of hoping that Bette Midler might come out on stage to reprise the duet from the album, but she was probably "on location" on some movie somewhere. The band did just fine without her.
6. The band members shifted to members of the Golden Era Hot Licks, Sid Page on fiddle, Jaime Leopold on bass, John Girton on guitar, and vocals by Maryann Price and Naomi Eisenberg. They performed News From Up the Street. to thunderous applause from the audience.
7. Dan gave tribute to these particular musicians by saying that "some of the songs I haven’t done cuz I wanted the right sound, and these are the folks to do it." They proceeded to deliver an incredible performance of Walkin’ One and Only. Afterwards Dan revealed that most of his ideas come from the Police Gazette.
Dan played a few bars on a blues harmonica. Dan remarked, "A little known skill of mine is the Marine Band harmonica," which he immediately put away and did not play for the rest of the evening.
8. Next a song from the Gene Autry movie Rhythm on the Range, a tune called I’m An Old Cowhand. Maryann Price sang the song that made her famous. She introduced it by thanking Jon Weber for giving it to her. Dan replied "I gave it to Jon Weber." She was accompanied by Stevie Ford on mandolin and Robert Sproul on piano. During the instrumental break Maryann and Dan jitterbugged in the middle of the stage. The Jukies were having a ball.
9. Evening Breeze. Dan told how he was living in Haight Ashbury when he wrote it. The full complement of musicians played this one. Dan introduced the soloists, but there were too many and he said their names too fast for me to catch all of them. What I did catch was Paul Robinson on guitar, Dan K..., John (maybe Weber), Stevie Black on mandolin, and then I was lost in the list.
Dan proclaimed the end of the set, which led to a standing ovation. Dan announced that many of the cast would come out to the lobby for a "meet and greet" with the audience. Interestingly they did not close the curtain. Dan left and the others just wandered off stage, or not. Some kind of hung around. It had an interesting effect of leaving the audience part of the show, not excluding them from the musician’s break. It was a long break. The lobby was filled with people buying CD’s for $20 and autographed posters for $10 (seemed like a deal to me.) They are really cool, and I will bet some are still available. Also on sale were Maryann Price’s CD’s. I bought her 'Hot & Cole' CD, a tribute to Cole Porter. Next to the sales booth was an 8 foot tall cut-out of Dan in round-lensed red sunglasses. As hard as we looked, we could not see a single musician from the show out in the lobby. Who we did see were all the movers and shakers of the San Francisco music scene. "Dinosaurs of the music business" as Shag called them along with lots of young and middle-aged people. The lobby is lined with pictures of famous stars who presumably had performed at the Warfield. A very early picture of the late Jerry Garcia was framed in a deep frame with dried roses around image. The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, etc. etc. After a pee break in the Warfield’s restrooms on the balcony level we worked our way back to our seats.
The second set started up with Mitch Woods playing his solo piano again. This time he didn’t have the hat. He played for quite a while and it was very relaxing. Then back to the show.
First came tributes to the glory of Dan. The off-stage announcer came on "Right now, a man who...." and he went on to give the credits of the first speaker, Ben Fong Torres, writer for Rolling Stone and former announcer on the legendary 60’s San Francisco radio station KSAN. He came out and gave a brief tribute to the recently deceased author Ken Kesey. Then he told stories from the many years he had known Dan, since San Francisco State University. Dan had made a jingle for KSAN which Ben imitated. He showed a plaque and read the inscription. It was from the Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, Jr. On the plaque the Mayor praised several of Dan’s songs by name. The audience applauded after each one. I wondered if the Mayor actually knew any of those songs, or if some aide supplied the list. Dan was up-front, but kind of shy about it. Ben Fong Torres read that the Mayor had proclaimed this day, December 9th, to be "Dan Hicks Day" in San Francisco. Dan received the plaque and said, "This looks good."
The next speaker was Jim Steinfleck (?), a representative of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers and Publishers. He too had a plaque. It cited Dan for "memorable, moving, witty songs." Dan said, "This looks good. Thank you very much."
SET TWO: Now back to music. In beginning his introduction, Dan pointed out gifts that had been left on stage during the break: A gardenia and something he only described as "Hot Licks Hot Shots."
10. Dan introduced the next song which he called "4 bar blues, a quasi bossa nova tune based on a true life story from the Police Gazette." The band played Canned Music. The full group of about 40 musicians played, 6 of them violinists. Sid Page pointed out the soloists with his bow. Dan changed a line in the song from "...playing on the radio" to "playing on the internet...as digital as it can get." Afterwards Dan pointed out Julian Smedly (?) and David LaFlamme (of It’s A Beautiful Day fame) on violin, and Richard Olson on reeds, and George Somebody on something. Again, he was going too fast for me to write. He pointed out that the "meet and greet" session scheduled for the lobby during the intermission didn’t quite happen, alluding to the thought that he had tricked the audience into expecting it.
11. Naomi Ruth Eisenberg was featured on the next song, We’re not on the Same Trip. My scribbled notes look like they say either John Girton or Naomi did the guitar solo. That gives you an idea of how illegible my scribbling can get. Naomi’s outfit was a big hit. She looked slim and trim in a black off-the-shoulder leather dress. Her long blonde hair was out there and she had a little black top hat with a black fluffy feather cocked on the left side of her head. Everyone wondered how in the hell she kept that thing on through all that moving she did. Later at the post-party Shag asked her and she said, "bobbi pins." Anyway the song was great, and not one I have heard before, so it was a real treat. She has such a dynamic strong voice and she displayed some great vocal moves in the song.
12. Dan came back center stage and said, "I think this Dan Hicks Day is sort of getting to me. I can go out on Market Street and say whatever I want." Dan began relating his own history beginning with Santa Rosa. Three of the band members he played with back there in college, Dick Zigler, John Brandenberg and Mike Woolen (?) joined Dan on stage for a great rendition of San Francisco Bay Blues, by Lone Cat Fuller (?) A great classic which probably reached its greatest audience from the 60s recording by Peter, Paul, and Mary.
13. The Santa Rosa guys sang the verses of How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away, a tune Dan described as the first song he ever wrote. The full orchestra played along with this one. Another classic, which was probably first recorded commercially by The Charlatans.
14. For me, the next song was the second biggest treat of the night. Dan brought out a group called Eggs Over Easy, whom Dan said he started playing with "back in the 70’s, before rehab." Four men, Jack O’Hara (?), Austin Delany, Brian ?, and Jay David, grouped around the microphones and sang an incredible harmony to I’m Saving My Lovin’. Finally after all these years, I got to hear some bass vocal harmonies to one of Dan’s tunes. I have been providing those bass harmonies for years in the privacy of my own home, yearning to hear them for real from some real singers. Always the Lickettes are high on the vocal range, albethey wonderful harmonies. Even the Acoustic Warriors never sang low down, but here it was. And it was magnificent. Think of barber shop harmony but without the stupid striped shirts, straw hats, or goody-good lyrics. It would be so wonderful to hear some more, more, more, of that kind of vocal virtuosity on Dan’s future albums.
15. After the applause died down an audience member yelled out some comment. Dan said "That period about the heckling is over. Let’s have a moment of silence...as adults." He broke into a short passage of The Wind Called Mariah, stopped and said, "It’s my day, ladies and gentlemen." Then the band played Payday Blues, one of Dan’s big hits. "I got my paycheck today.....Spent it like a crazy fool."
16. Next Dan talked about a group called Bayside Jazz, whom Dan described as "like Mel Torme....well not Mel Torme, the velvet fog." Dan introduced a woman he called "the very first Lickette", Pat Moretly (?), and he called attention to "The Fiddlettes" playing violins and two saxophone players. Dan sang a duet with Pat called I Hadn’t Anyone ‘Til You. It was a soft jazz number. Dan and Pat traded scats.
17. Dan felt the need to thank the people who helped make the show possible. He had a list that he read. He thanked his wife and others. Applause from different areas of the theater when audience members recognized a name. He thanked Ken and Kathy and that garnered more than the average amount of applause from the Hixlisters in the audience. Then he announced a song "featuring the ladies, Reeling Down That Old Highway." He explained that he wrote it while with Dick Zigler on a road trip in ‘64 to San Antonio. July 2nd he recalled. As he was describing this, the chorus of Lickettes from over the years started sending funny verbal barbs toward Dan. Dan said something back I didn’t catch, and Sherry Snow, I think it was, said, "That’s why you kicked me out of the band a few years ago. Dan retorted, "Put it on the carpet," as a good natured jab at her airing dirty laundry in front of the audience. One of the others, Maryann I think, said something and then Dan said, "One of the Lickettes is trying to hit on me." When they got to the song, Reelin Down, they sang it as a gospel number. The women traded off singing solos. It was great to see all the past and present Lickettes performing together.
18. The set-up for the next song was long. Dan told an anecdote about a caramel corn stand that used to be located next to The Warfield Theatre. At the caramel corn stand you got to make it yourself. Somehow Dan was alone in the stand and went outside while the door locked behind him. He said he went down to another caramel corn stand, I guess to report it, then came back. That was about the extent of it and he admitted it wasn’t much of an anecdote. But it did serve as the lead in to the final song of the set, Dan’s greatest song (IMHO), I Scare Myself. This is what I had been waiting for all night. I have always wanted to hear Sid Page play violin on this song along with Dan. As far as I am concerned, since Stephane Grappelli died, Sid is now the greatest fiddle player in the world, and I Scare Myself is the tune he cut his teeth on. I would have been satisfied to hear him play about a 3 hour solo to that song, but since this was the last number they had to let everybody get their licks in. All the fiddlers were, of course, wonderful, and played marvelous, very inspired solos. Last on the list to play was , in his pure white suit and black shirt with orange yellow flames burning up his front. As he drew his bow up to play, I whispered to Nancy, "Watch out. Here it comes." Within one, possible two notes from his bow you knew that this song was his, even after all these years of not playing it. He can pull such an incredible range of emotions from his instrument! It makes you cry to hear it; it is so beautiful. I don’t know why about half way through some of the other fiddlers decided to join in. Maybe that was the plan, for a final free-for-all fiddle jam, but as far as I was concerned it detracted from Sid’s virtuous and virtuoso performance. Even so, it was a great number, and the perfect one to close the show. The audience went mad. As he exited Dan said, "Goodnight. I love you madly."
The curtain closed. The entire house was on its feet in explosive applause. It was enough to bring him back, and he didn’t draw it out to milk the applause. Dan came back and first off thanked some people for making the concert possible: His wife, Claire Wasserman Hicks, the friends of Bill W., everybody on the stage who came to support him, and Gus Gurell (?)
19. Dan ended the night with the same song he ended his latest 'Alive and Lickin' album, The Buzzard Was Their Friend. As they were starting it, Dan said "Everybody gets a solo." I never did get a good count, but around 40 musicians filled the stage, and sure enough everybody got a solo. It was fun seeing them all take their turns in order, and listening to their different styles. I wished each of the solos could have been longer, but all good things must eventually end, and so must this concert. As Dan made his final exit he wished the audience a safe journey and said, "Thanks. I’ll see you sometime." And one of the greatest of musician-songwriter-storyteller-band leader and wits, "the only hip person there is," took his leave of the stage.
The curtain did not close. The musicians just walked off, or started to tear down their equipment. It ended more like a gig in a club. It seemed more personal to end it that way. The audience slowly took their leaves and filed out. What a great evening! A couple of people played a little on the piano. Sid Page jitterbugged with Susan Rabin. The Jukies were still having their ball. Lots of people did not want to leave. The ushers had to get insistent when they were trying to clear the lobby 20 minutes later.
After the Show - We tried to find out if anyone was planning a party afterwards. We asked the big guns in the Hixlist but they were mum. Thanks to some intelligence gathering and a little luck I was able to find out that Maryann Price said she was going over to a restaurant in North Beach called Enrico’s. We didn’t have anything better to do, so we decided to give it a shot. The worst that could happen was we had an adventure.
We walked down and took the cable car up the hill towards North Beach. It was late and only a few people were on it. Cable cars have two attendants, a driver and a brakeman. I wasn’t surprised that Shag knew the brakeman. She seemed to know at least one person everywhere we went. One of the Warfield ushers also got on the car. We got to talking. I was surprised to hear that he did not have an especially happy night. He said that a couple of the crowd members and one musician had been a little belligerent, and obnoxious about deserving special treatment. Probably everybody who was anybody in the golden era of SF music was there.
Enrico’s - We got off the cable car and walked through a deserted China town down to Enrico’s at 504 Broadway at Kearny. We weren’t sure whether we were on a royal goose chase or not, but as we walked into the outdoor seating area Shag thought she recognized a couple of musicians from the show.Enrico’s, which advertises "Great food - Hot Jazz - Fine Cocktails" was well-lit with large glass windows across the front. A large outdoor seating area was between the sidewalk and the windows. All the tables inside seemed taken, but most of the outdoor tables weren’t, so we took one in the center. It was a chilly night, but an outdoor gas heater was sort of aimed at one of our chairs.
Another musician walked in we recognized. Maybe we are going to be lucky and get to see some of the Licks. Nothing indicated there was a private party going on. So, we ordered dinner and I got one of their fine cocktails, a manhattan. It was fine. As our food arrived we saw a Lickette arrive. Naomi Ruth Eisenberg came in still dressed in her tight black dress and tiny black top hat with a black feather cocked on the left side of her head. Gradually the whole group arrived, including Dan, The Man, himself. Actually Maryann Price was one of the last to arrive. So, for the rest of the evening we were flies on the wall, except Shag, of course, who knew a couple of the people. A couple of other Hixlisters had also found their way there, so we had a fun time talking with them, and watching the party inside and spilling out around us. Musicians were trading off playing inside. After an hour or so, the waiters called "last call" for the bar. Gradually people left as the evening waned on. Some room opened up at the bar, so we moved in to listen to the music and warm up a bit. The waiters starting making unsubtle moves to indicate it was time to go home, like putting the chairs up on vacated tables. It did not deter anyone however. Dan was sitting down singing, with a circle of musicians. I don’t even remember what it was, just that it was nice to hear him sing, and to see him in his element, and to see him happy on his birthday.
I got the opportunity to chat for a bit with Sid Page and his wife Bonnie. Very interesting conversation about their work doing studio sessions in Hollywood. Their son was ready to leave, was pulling on them, and started to walk out the door. I jokingly called out after him "don’t you know this is a historic occasion?" Apparently he didn’t really care how historic it was. He was ready to leave. I also spoke briefly with Maryann Price before she left and met her husband, Tary. He seemed like a nice guy, which made me glad, because she deserves a great husband. It was interesting how many male fans told me what crushes they had had on her when she was touring with the Hot Licks.
Dan sang a couple of more songs. I think Honeysuckle Rose came up again. Then he finished and it was over. Time to call it an evening and go home. Shag went up to Dan at an appropriate time and got his autograph on the book of Strikin It Rich matches. He told her that he hadn’t seen one of those since 1994. He used to smoke and he used them all up. I briefly got a chance to shake his hand and thank him for a nice evening. He was wearing the coolest brown suit with tiny little polka dots. Afterwards, Shag gave me the matches as a birthday present to me. That brought the evening to a perfectly wonderful close.
Dan’s last public remark of the evening was when he got up from performing with the music circle. He stood up and said to his gathered friends, "This has been a good night. Thanks."