Date: October 2 2009
Subject: Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Tower Theatre, Fresno CA
Sometimes, things just come together. I usually try to celebrate my brothers birthday (Oct 4) with him in Fresno (he lives and performs in several bands there). This time it had the added allure of the DH show on Oct 2, right down in the historic Tower District otherwise known as the artsy-fartsy area of town, where you’ll generally find an eclectic mix of trendy restaurants, upscale jazz clubs , people dressed to the “9”’s and the occasional half naked (from the waist DOWN) person passed out on the sidewalk. To further illustrate this point, our group was sitting down for a
pre-concert beer and nosh (at the popular local brew pub) and as I look out the window, who should I happen to see walking across the street, notebook in hand, but none other than Dan himself? We couldn’t quite see where we went, but we figured he probably wanted some “alone time” possibly to study the lyrics to a new song to his set(in the notebook, you see). We happened to notice several tables of grey haired gentlemen and their wives all wearing Hawaiian shirts and occasionally you would hear “mumble mumble.. Dan Hicks…mumble mumble ..1972…. mumble mumble.. LSD..” so we figured they were there to see the show as well. Especially when they all got up and looked out the window and pointed, saying “THERE HE IS!!”.
Once we finished our refreshment and started walking to the theatre, who should saunter up behind us, but Dan!? We had a quick “hello” and “see you inside” and off he went! It was just a couple seconds later we noticed Richard Chon (Dan’s violinist), kicking back with some folks at a little sidewalk table outside of some pizza joint or something. A lovely, laid back night in the Tower, (except for the 2 cop cars trying to get the drunk half naked guy into the ambulance)
In the lobby, prior to the show, I bought a “Tangled Tales” LP, decided to stash it in the car and bring it back later, for autographs. Inside the theater, it was quite rowdy. It seems that the audience was mostly comprised of folks from the “Love Generation” who looked at their fellow audience members and seemed mock dismayed that their peers were all old, gray and/or bald. One guy even stood up and took an age survey…
Once the show started, there was a LOT of chatter from the audience, shouting out requests, asking Dan where he’d
been… the usual. Dan pretty much handled it with his usual dead pan manner, we did have several “Q & A sessions” where one guy even asked Dan if he thought it was OK for him to dance in the aisles.. Dan basically said “whatever
floats your boat” and the guy apparently moved to a less populated area of the theatre as to not block people’s views.
The Lickettes Are: Daria and Roberta Donnay The Lickmen: Dave Bell (guitar) Richard Chon (violin) and Paul Smith (bass)
The songs, in the best order I can remember them:
Topsy/Swing 42 (after which he said that was the show, they just wanted to show what they could do and not have to stick around and listen to a bunch of shit being shouted from the audience)
I Feel Like Singing
My Blue Heaven (Dance routine)
Song For My Father
Blues My Naughty Baby Gave To Me
Buzzard Was Their Friend
I Scare Myself
Smoke, Smoke Smoke That Cigarette! (he was reading the notebook)
Beetle-Um-Bum (?) (also reading the lyrics off the note book)
Sweetheart (very nice version by the Lickettes, much different than Maryann’s)
it was around here were Dan broke a guitar string, he sent Dave offstage to fix it and they carried on to next song, without Dave
Canned Music (Daria played a little “melodica” wind instrument with piano keys)
Long Comma Viper
Limehouse Blues (outro 1)
Milk Shakin Mama -encore-
LimeHouse Blues (outro 2)
As usual, a very entertaining show. Dan seemed loose, and in a good mood, perhaps his pre-concert stroll in the Tower District pepped him up. Richard seemed to be the featured musician of the night, lots of solos on violin and mandolin. Paul did a couple of his bow-over-the-bass-strings-accompanied-by-voice type solos. Otherwise a very subtle performance. Dave, I must say apperehensively, seemed a little off his game at first, but got “it” back as the show went on. I guess one tends to get spoiled by one virtuoso performance after another, and a sub par performance from Dave is still excellent. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I invite any opposing viewpoints. The Lickettes, as has been previously noted have really started to come into their own, and put their stamp on a lot of the older songs, and even playing various musical instruments besides the usual percussion (Daria played a melodica and Robert played a little mini-accordian), plus there seems to be good back and forth with Dan.. Plus, and I cant say this enough, pictures just dont do these ladies justice (wolf whistle)
After the show, I went to the lobby to get my LP signed and to maybe have a little chat with the people who came out to sign (Dan, Richard and girls), but it was not to be. They were being mobbed and to Dan’s credit, he patiently sat there and listened to everyone’s individual story about how they saw him in some bar in 1972, all the while signing LP/CD/scraps of paper that were being shoved at him. However, my party was not so patient, and once I got autographed they were ready to go. I was OK with that, I’d had a fun evening, got treated to some top-notch tunes, with my brother, who has also been a fan since the early seventies but not quite as fanatic as me.
Another great night in the Tower District of Fresno. I hope the passed out guy was OK.