Fifteen years ago this evening, I got to catch Dan Hicks and The Acoustic Warriors performing at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, where I had seen (and would see) him perform several other times. In fact, he’ll be there in a couple of weeks on March 1st, back to being billed as “Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks” from the old days.
The “Acoustic Warriors” changed personnel slightly from time to time, but the music was always all Dan, and he was always his usual, consummately effervescent self. His performances were always very fun and entertaining, like his music—upbeat, quirky and clever—musically as well as lyrically.
How to categorize his ‘style’ of music? That’s always a tough call, since it simultaneously includes elements of several genres: folk, rock, country, jazz, pop, swing, jump…it’s just not that easy to describe or pigeonhole into a familiar ‘type’.
A few years before this show, I saw him at the cozy cabaret once known as the Cinegrill at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (alas, it is no more). We got to the hotel about 45 minutes early, parked in the hotel parking and walked through the lobby toward the club. There wasn’t much activity in the lobby at all as we approached the lounge door, only a guy sitting on one of the padded benches reading a newspaper. The closer we got, I realized it was Dan, himself, relaxing with the paper for a few minutes before the show. As we passed, I said a quick, “Evenin’ Dan.” to which he replied, “Yup.”
Inside the club, I could see why he was spending some time in the empty lobby. That place is tiny without a bandstand, and with Dan (no small guy) and 3 other musicians, it was a bit tight. There wasn’t much of a crowd, either, for whatever reason. We’d gotten there early to get a good seat, which turned out to be almost anywhere. I’ve only seen him in small venues, but this was a very small, intimate setting. And, of course, a most excellent performance.
Back in the 90s, Dan kept a mailing list of his fans, and would (personally?) send out post cards when he would be appearing in your area. The front would almost always be some original artwork of Dan’s, usually something kind of crazy or silly. Hmm, I know I still have them, somewhere in the archive, but not handy enough at this writing to include here. They will be forthcoming in another post, once I run into them again, promise.