From: Kathy Diemer & Kennon Baird
Date sent: 17 Sept 2002
Subject: "Holidaze in Hicksville" Dec 21 2002
Thanks to Dan's continuing good karma (or his deal with the Devil,
whichever it is) the skies over San Francisco were dry on Saturday the
21st after a week of wild storms, which brought heavy rain, high winds,
thunder, lightning, hail, and even snow to the Bay Area. It was certainly
a relief to finally have clear weather for our big holiday evening in
The legendary Fillmore Auditorium is located just a block or so from San
Francisco's Japantown, where we were able to get a good hotel deal at the
Miyako Best Western. After checking in around 2PM, we strolled awhile
through the Japantown Mall, which was interesting and fun.
Later, after changing clothes back at the hotel, we enjoyed sushi at one
of the many restaurants in the Mall, then walked the short distance to the
It was our first visit to the shrine that is the Fillmore, so we arrived
very early so we could scope things out, and get a good place in line. It
wasn't immediately apparent where the entrance was, or where a line would
start. As we looked around, Hixter Jim Howell from Chico, California
walked up to greet us, and kindly directed us to the official start of the
line - which turned out to be next to the flagpole in front of the post
office a little ways down Geary Street. It seemed odd to us, but closer to
opening time, we could see that there was a lot of movement in the area
right by the Fillmore's doors, such as beer kegs being rolled in, so it
looks like they need to keep that area clear for pre-show preparations.
It was kind of weird, though, to have to stand outside a US Government
facility to wait for Dan.
Jim, his wife Vicki, and their several friends had been the first to rally
'round the pole, so we queued up behind them and chatted about things
Hixian, and things in general, as we waited for the doors to open. The
line was slow to build, but by the announced door-opening time of 7PM,
there was a good-sized crowd on hand, and a cold breeze blowing down
Geary. Ken opined that it won't be too long before Dan's core audience
will be too old to stand in line so long, then race like rats for general
The doors opened at about 7:20, and we began filing in. At the door,
everyone was physically searched - patted down like perps on "Cops" - for
guns, knives, explosives, mace, video cameras, tape recorders and other
Weapons of Mass Destruction. Ken bristles at this sort of thing, but
managed to keep his mouth shut. It was an unwelcome first for any Dan
Hicks show we've attended. Kathy later remarked that there might have
been cause to frisk Dan's fans if they were looking for Metamucil or
anti-depressants, but not for weapons. We can only assume that the
Fillmore routinely attracts a decidedly non-peace & love crowd these days,
which is too bad.
Inside, the lobby walls are covered with framed posters and photographs of
the many luminaries who have played at the Fillmore, including a very nice
photo of The Amazing Charlatans. Also on display is Bill Graham's
original filing notice for his dancehall permit, and the original "Take
one…or two [apples]" sign (free apples are still offered at the door).
The auditorium itself - the sanctum sanctorum of psychedelic rock - holds
about 500 for a seated show. It has a high coffered ceiling which is
painted flat black. From the ceiling hang two rows of large crystal
chandeliers, which reflected ultraviolet spotlights.
There is a restaurant on the mezzanine offering such rock 'n' roll staples
from the evening's menu as Skewered Chili Prawns, Baked Goat Cheese,
Lobster Ravioli, and Braised Lamb Shank With Creamy Polenta And Broccoli
Rabe. The mezzanine wraps around one side of the auditorium, the walls
covered with colorful framed posters of contemporary Fillmore acts.
Fragrant evergreen swags were hung along the railings.
The stage itself is about five feet high. The backdrop for the evening
was a large painted canvas showing a fanciful snow-covered village.
Downstage left was a tableau consisting of a "Holidaze in Hicksville" sign
on an easel, a small stuffed snowman, an electrified light-up goose, and -
of course - Shorty Hicks, himself! The sign featured a manic-looking
google-eyed snowman, and the goose kept erratically blinking on and off
throughout the evening.
We settled in for the show at a good table down front, joined by Hixter
Tim Patterson and his date, Montana Molly. The body heat of the crowd
slowly began to warm up the chilly room, and a welcome glass of wine took
the edge off the pre-show cold and frisking. Table service was pleasant
and efficient, if somewhat pricey.
Soon, the members of The Christmas Jug Band began taking their places on
stage. Then some other guy came onstage, stepped up to the microphone,
welcomed all to the Fillmore, and introduced the man we'd all come to see,
"The Mayor of Hicksville, Dan Hicks!"
Dan came strolling out to resounding applause. He was wearing pleated
black slacks, a black shirt with white squiggles, and his red "Commodore
Dan" yachting cap. He rapped to the crowd for a few minutes before
introducing the CJB, saying that "Christmas is the Holiday we're talking
Dan then introduced the CJB, and joined them for their entire set, which
included "Winter Wonderland", "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'", "Washboard
Road", "Santa As Seen On TV", and the breakout hit from their new
"Uncorked" CD, "Santa Lost a Ho". It's always fun to see the Jug Band,
and they were a fitting opener to the evening's festivities. "Santa Claus
Is Coming To Town" featured Dan on lead vocals. Dan also made a crack
about his use of "passive-aggressive crowd control" on the vocally
enthusiastic audience members who were determined to shout comments and
suggestions between songs during the CJB's set.
Dan then announced a short break, during which the stage was reconfigured
for the Hot Licks. When The Man reappeared onstage with the Hot Licks, he
had doffed the yachting cap, and had changed into a red and black Op Art
patterned shirt. The Hot Licks were similarly clad in the red and black
theme. Band personnel for the evening were:
Yes, 3, count 'em, 3, Lickettes! At several points during the show, Dan
led the "Vote For Your Favorite Lickette" applause. All the ladies were
well appreciated, but Susan consistently led the audience poll.
Dave Bell, guitar
Paul Smith aka Corky Rodriguez, bass
Mark Shinbrot, keyboards
Brian Godchaux, violin and mandolin
The set went like this:
- "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy", which had a special Santa verse added for
the occasion. Dan kind of messed up the words of the Santa verse, so he
stopped the band, and they did it right the second time, just like real
professionals. - "Blues For Dixie" - "Strike It While It's Hot" - "Hell,
I'd Go!", before which Dan informed us that the Martians' special holiday
is "Snarf Day".
Special guests, the a cappella group The Fabulous Opinions joined Dan and
the Hot Licks onstage. The Opinions are Austin DeLone, Tim Eschliman,
Brien Hopkins and Jay David. They sound great, and their bizarre yet
low-key stage presence – coupled with their eccentric dance moves – make
them a joy to watch.
The set continued with:
- "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy", a Christmas ditty from the Buck Owens
songbook. - "Savin' My Lovin'", arguably the highlight of the night; just
lovely with the Opinions' backup vocals. - "Exactly Like You", featuring
Dan and the Lickettes' soft-shoe dance routine. - "I Scare Myself" - "I
Feel Like Singin'" - "That's Just The Smoke They're Blowin'", which will
appear on Dan's next album. We first heard this tune back in November of
1998 during Dan's show at the Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz - it showed up at a
couple more gigs, then it went away. Glad to see it back in its shiny new
arrangement. (Now if only Dan would bring back the jazzy, sassy "She's
Right", which was a download available some years ago on Chaler's late
lamented Dan website.) - "Long Comma Viper" - "My Hero (Song For Santa)",
a holiday take on Horace Silver's "Song For My Father". - "Evenin' Breeze"
- "Reelin' Down", which had that full gospel feeling with the three-strong
Lickettes, plus the Fabulous Opinions, on backup vocals. Always one of
Ken's favorites. - "By Hook Or By Crook"
- A touching medley of "I'll Be Home For Christmas", dovetailing
beautifully into Johnny Mercer's "Dream (When You're Feeling Blue)". It
was a perfect end to a very enjoyable evening.
Dan told the crowd that he'd see us all back at the Fillmore, same time
next year, so it looks like "Holidaze in Hicksville" will become another
Bay Area Christmas tradition!
Happy Holidaze to all,
Kathy & Ken