Hicks and the Hot Licks At The Mint Supper Club
Los Angeles, California
July 10, 2005
by Kevin Cloud Brechner
Thanks to all the HixListers who wrote such nice
comments about my report on last night's concert in Solano
Beach. I finished that report and uploaded it to the list,
and then rushed from Pasadena to mid Los Angeles, southeast
of Hollywood a little ways to The Mint, at 6010 Pico
Boulevard between Fairfax and La Cienega. I was hoping to
get in for the second show at 9 pm. I had called earlier
in the week and the charming woman who answered the phone
encouraged me to buy tickets early in case they sold out.
Being a natural cheapskate, I didn't want to pay the agency
fee, so I thought if I got there early enough I might still
get a seat.
I had not been to The Mint before, but I learned from
their website that they have been around for a long time.
When I arrived I was happy to find no long line waiting
outside like you get when they play at McCabe's. No
outside box office, so I went in the main door to be
pleasantly surprised by hearing Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks
playing. The charming woman who had answered the phone was
also at the door. Her name was Dena and she was beautiful
as well as charming. Also at the door was a formidable
looking man who might have been the owner or the bouncer.
Either way, he looked like he wouldn't be happy if you were
a troublemaker. She explained that the band had just
started. I paid the $25 fee thinking I was buying a ticket
for the second show. She thought I was buying for the
first show. In the discussion that ensued, I said I was
writing a review for the Hixlist, so, being a wise
businesswoman, she said I might be able to stay for the
second show for free. She set me up with a small table and
a candle so I could jot my notes. Lucky me! Two shows for
the price of one!
HICKS AND THE HOT LICKS, FIRST SHOW
my notes I wrote that I thought the song they were
playing as I came in was "I Feel Like Singing," but I was
wrong because they sang that as the encore. My excuse is I
was trying to buy the ticket and get seated. If I were a
real fan I would have had all the lyrics memorized cross-
indexed to the titles. I am pretty sure it wasn't "Canned
Music" that he often starts with. Oh, well. Maybe
somebody else on the Hixlist can supply the title of the
The second song was "Long Come A Viper." As they were
playing it, I began to look around the interior of The
Mint. It was a dark club. As you enter the main door and
pass Dena's maitre d' spot, you see a long bar on the
right. The low ceiling above the bar was covered with 45-
rpm records. In a little alcove by the door was a table
set up with CDs for sale. A merchandiser was there ready
to take your money. On the left was the dining area and
stage. It is a large stage for the size of the club, which
was much smaller than I had expected. Pleated curtains
over the top and on the back gave the stage a rich look.
To the left of the stage is a large mirror under scalloped
drapes. It looked very much like a two-way mirror, but I
couldn't tell for sure. The lighting in the club was dark
with a couple of different styles of hanging chandeliers.
The stage lighting was too dim, which seems to be common in
a lot of smaller clubs, but you could see.
At one point I counted heads and estimated there were
only 42 people in the audience. I couldn't believe it.
What a comparison from the crowded mass at Belly Up in
Solano Beach the night before. I couldn't believe that in
Los Angeles, a town of 8 or 9 million people, that only 42
would come out to see one of the greatest musicians of all
time???? It was Sunday night, but gee whiz. Must have
been really bad publicity.
Even with the small crowd, the applause seemed as loud
and exuberant as the fans at Solano Beach. After "Viper,"
Dan thanked the audience for the applause, "Beautiful. We
worked hard on that to get it perfect. We finally got it."
He said next they were going to open up the Jim Kweskin
Song Book. "The Christy Minstrels are our idols.
(laughter) We saw that movie "A Mighty Wind." We do a
little folk sound now and then ourselves." They preformed
"Blues My Baby Gave To Me." It had a nice Susan Rabin
solo, followed by a nice guitar solo, followed by a nice
Dan scat, and followed by a nice mandolin solo. The crowd
was very enthusiastic.
Dan introduced the band. It was the same line-up as
at Solano Beach. Dave Bell on guitar. Richard Chong on
fiddle and mandolin. Paul Smith on bass. Roberta Donnay
on vocals and percussion. Susan Rabin as Lickette vocalist
and percussionist. Dan introduced himself, "You all know me.
I'm Billy Idol."
Dan was wearing a beige and mauve floral shirt. Very
soft colors. He had dark trousers held up too high on his
waist with a black leather belt. Dan is one of the few
people whose pants I would call trousers. The buckle was
large and oval and gold colored. Almost big enough to be a
junior champion rodeo buckle. Dan's shoes I got a look at
later. They were shiny black leather with some kind of
texture like alligator. It had white accent lines between
the uppers and the sole and also within the upper part. He
was playing a Gretsch Rancher cutaway guitar with a dark
Dave Bell was wearing a plain gray or green shirt, and
dark slacks. It was hard to tell subtle colors in the dim
light. He wore clear glasses. Dave Bell was really
wagging his head to the music. He damn near bobbed it off
on a couple of his solos. He really feels the music.
Richard Chong had on his goofy white straw hat
discussed in the Solano Beach review. He had a really
cool, bright red shirt with lots of black buttons down the
front. It had a squared-off hem at the bottom which he
wore outside his light gray slacks.
Paul Smith wore a near-white, long-sleeved shirt with
narrow vertical stripes. At both shoulders and down the
button area the vertical stripes were about an inch and a
half wide. The stripes were maybe maroon or dusty blue.
He had dark pants and was wearing clear glasses.
Susan Rabin was wearing a sleeveless V-neck tan
champagne-colored top over a black sparkly skirt. She had
black high heels and was wearing a black chocker around her
Roberta Donnay had on a black spaghetti strap cocktail
dress. It was cut an angle at the hemline over the knees.
In the middle of her belly area were black sequins. She
wore a sparkly black and silver bracelet on her right arm
and had on black high heels.
Next was "Song For My Father" which Dan said, "was
written by Horace Silver, but done in the Hot Licks'
style." It started with pizzicato violin and then a lovely
guitar intro. Dave Bell still bobbin' that head, and
continued to really get into the music. I didn't notice
him doing that so much at Solano Beach. Overall, all the
solos seemed better to me tonight. More inspired. Maybe
it was the effect of a small enthusiastic crowd that was
close and intent on the music. Nobody in the audience
talked during this show.
The next song was "That Ain't Right." Dan announced
that it was from the album "Selected Shorts," which led to
the inevitable chorus from The Lickettes of "Selected
Shorts!" Dan pitched the album with, "No song too long."
"This song," he said, "is about the human condition.
Thinking about the things that could be, but thinking "That
ain't right.'" Dan tried to recite the first line of the
song, but then faltered and couldn't remember it. After a
pause, he said, "Good to be back in L.A. We're from
Northern California. We're better." On this song, the
acoustic guitar developed that mystery electronic wah-wah
effect, which suggests the guitar is not all that acoustic.
At this point I ordered a drink from my tall, pretty,
young waitress, Stephanie. After last night's
disappointing Harvey Wallbanger I decided to try a Rob Roy
perhaps. And I requested that she ask the bartender what
was in it, because I had no idea. She said she didn't
think they could make that drink, so I ordered a rum and
coke. Later she returned with a Rob Roy saying she had
mistaken a Rob Roy for some other drink that they didn't
make. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a Rob
Roy is basically a Manhattan, one of my favorite drinks,
with Scotch instead of Bourbon. Everything else is about
the same, a dash of angostura bitters, sweet vermouth, and
a carcinogenic maraschino cherry. I would have rather had
the bourbon than the scotch, but it was good.
Dan thanked the crowd after the applause and said they
were now going to do kind of an old standard, keeping it
up-tempo, but he said he added a few new words at the end.
They played "I'll See You In My Dreams." The solos were
inspired on this one too.
Next was the classic "I Scare Myself," which brought
applause when it was announced. Dan and Lickettes don dark
sunglasses for this one. It starts out with lots of rhythm
clicks from the Lickettes. The guitar solo was much better
tonight than last night's. So was the fiddle solo. It
wasn't bad last night. It was great. It was just betterer
tonight. The fiddle solo was fabulous and got a lot of
hoots from the audience.
Dan gets bored in this song
because of all the long solos. Tonight he was snapping his
head back and forth from right to left as he looked at
Richard fiddling away. The bass solo was also excellent.
Dan's usual fake solo at the end was good. Dave Bell snuck
in that electronic processor again on that solo. Dan got a
big hand when he turned his guitar flat like a Dobro and
twiddled his fingers above the strings like he was
magically playing a keyboard. This song got a huge hand
from the audience with many whistles and screams.
Dan pitched his album for sale, "Selected Shorts,"
which was echoed by the Lickettes. Then he thanked the
Ditty Bops for opening the show. I missed them, and am
sorry now, because they were incredible opening the second
set. More on them later. Dan pulled out a tambourine and
a brush to accompany the next song, "Honeysuckle Rose." In
the middle of an instrumental solo, Dan and The Lickettes
do a soft shoe synchronized (sort of) dance routine. It
was a real crowd pleaser.
At this point the lovely Dena brought me a handwritten
free pass for the second show because I was writing a
review." Normally they clear the house between shows. Her
boss should give her a raise for trying to make the house
look good to a person who might be in a position to promote
it. Actually I thought The Mint was really cool. Dena was
really sweet. The waitresses were very attentive. One guy
kept bringing in beautiful plates of food. The
presentations were works of art, and they smelled
fantastic. More on the food at The Mint later.
Anyway, thanks, Dena! (I have since learned that, even though she
wrote "Dena" on my personalized pass, her real name is
Deana Segretario. From the Internet I discovered that she
writes really great music reviews with photos for magazines
like the prestigious Music Connection.)
At the end of the applause, Dan said, "Yowsa, Yowsa,
Yowsa. Thank you so much." A few song requests were
shouted from the audience. "Next we're going to do a call
and response tune. It's a standard style in music. We're
not taking requests, but I think I will do "Moody Richard."
(Applause) He did a short version, about a minute long as
though that was enough to satisfy the request.
Next was "Evening Breeze" which Dan started with a
falsetto scat. This song is a very back-beat song. The
violin solo was wonderful.
And that ended the first set. Dan reintroduced the
band members and exited off stage with The Lickettes while
The Hot Licks played the closing music. Big applause for
only 41 people. Even the waitresses were clapping.
Dan came back for an encore of "I Feel Like Singing,"
about which Dan said, "We recorded this over at the
Troubadour in 1971." In the middle of the song Dan holds
out one note for a very long time. Susan did a nice scat
solo. Roberta showed her powerful vocal strengths from
high squeals to low growls. Dave did a nice guitar solo
and Paul Smith did the most assertive bass solo of the
night, albeit short. Richard also did a nice, but short,
fiddle solo. Dan and The Lickettes again left the stage as
The Hot Licks played exit music which included a little
instrumental interlude of "Alabama Bound." Thunderous
applause from the small crowd but it wasn't enough to coax
Mr. Dan out for another round.
As the applause was dying
down, the merchandiser by the door shouted out, "CDs over
here. We have a few left." And that ended the first show.
I looked around at the audience. They appeared to be
aged from late 20s to 60s. I did not recognize anyone from
the Solano Beach show. Some of the Hot Licks came out to
the bar. They seemed to have friends among the audience.
The lights came up and the voice of the owner or bouncer
filled the room with "Ladies and gentlemen, please clear
the room. We have people waiting for the next show." The
crowd doesn't really want to go. The band friends seemed
to be planning to stay for the next show. Musicians or
roadies were setting up for the opening act, the Ditty
A couple of the Bops were walking around the bar.
Most noticeable was a tall slender woman with orange-dyed
blonde hair. The formidable owner or bouncer got back on
the PA and seriously tried to clear the room. Fortunately
he did not throw me out, nor some of the others sitting at
the bar, so I did not need to use Deana's kind, handwritten
pass to get in free for the second show. They began
loading in the customers who apparently had been waiting
outside for the second show. The ones coming for dinner
got nice tables near the band. I kept my little table with
my candle right inside the door next to Deana's welcome
station. The incidental music the house played while
loadingin the audience included what sounded like
Combustible Edison, somebody doing cha-cha music, and Bobby
Darin, but I could be wrong.
The opening act of the second show was The Ditty Bops.
They opened the first show too, but I arrived after they
had finished. I am sorry because they were good. They
were more than good. The Ditty Bops have been discussed on
the Hixlist a couple of times and I remember several people
endorsing them as being good, but they were more than good.
They were fantastic. And I don't say that lightly. Their
harmonies were tight and powerful. The arrangements were
excellent. They had lots of change-ups in their songs,
like time changes, rhythm changes, and mood changes.
The band consisted of two women up front, including the tall
thin orange-haired blonde, and her pretty friend who is
shorter and browner in the hair. They were backed by a
bass player, guitar, and keyboards, all males. But it is
the two women up front who sing the songs and hold the
power. Their music has the harmonic sophistication of Dan
Hicks and his friends, but only some of the humor. The
Ditty Bops seem to be a little more serious in some of the
songs. Dan is more expressive between the songs, and
funnier too. The Ditty Bops' sound reminds me a lot of a
favorite band of mine, Ranch Romance, an all-woman country
I counted the crowd. This time only 32 people filled
the room. It is still hard to believe in a town of a
gazillion people that only 32 show up for Dan Hicks.
Someone really dropped the PR ball. But lucky us, the
audience, to get such an intimate close-up interaction with
the band. Such a contrast to the talkative milling crowd
last night at Solano Beach. And no amazons to have to look
Anyway, the Ditty Bops were excellent from the very
top, in a song with lyrics about "leaves falling from the
trees." It had a nice lap steel guitar solo. The tall
orange-haired Bop also played mandolin.
I was seated at a little table with a candle, in front
of Deana's station. My table was next to the dining area.
Just to my left was the largest booth, upholstered in red
In the middle of the Ditty Bops' first song, Dan, The
Man, came wandering out into the club and chose to sat in
the big booth, right next to little old me, not more than 6
feet away. When the Bops ended their first song, there was
that little pause at the end of the applause where I could
have leaned over and said something like, "Hey Dan, where'd
you get those shoes?" Or "Man, you've really got the
style." Or "Let's exchange emails. I'm in a band too."
But no! I just blocked up in the clever quips area. It
happens when I really am in awe of someone's talent.
It reminded me of the time back in 1973 when I was a
young sprout and I had lucked into being an extra in what
was to become the great dramatist and actor Orson Welles'
last film, The Other Side of the Wind. I was totally in
awe of him too. Once during a break in the shooting I hit
the head. While I was standing at the urinal taking a whiz
who should walk in but Mr. Welles himself and sidle up his
300 plus pounds at the urinal next to mine. Now if ever
there was a time to come up with a world-class line, that
was it, but I was tongue-tied. I figured the poor guy just
would like to be left alone. Later in life I learned that
what celebrities really like is attention, but that fact
didn't help me this time with Dan Hicks.
It was only during the break in the next song that I managed
to get his attention and tell him I thought tonight's show was much
better than last night's. He courteously said "thank you."
I later concluded that I had implied last night's show was
not good, which it was. Very good. But tonight's show,
with this little crowd, was fantastic. All the Licks'
solos were better with this little attentive crowd.
Stardom is a funny thing the way it influences people.
The Ditty Bops second song featured the guitar,
mandolin, and the keyboard player switched to an accordion,
which gave it a European sound. The third song had a
lyric, "I gotta chip on my shoulder" and really sounded
like Ranch Romance to me. The next song they announced was
inspired by the L.A. freeway system. The tall Ditty Bop
woman played a one of those metal Cajun corrugated
washboards that fits over the player's chest like a vest.
She played it with metal brushes. It was a beautiful song.
Dan got up and headed back stage to get ready for his last
set. The violin player, I think his name was John Landon
told a story about Dangerous Jimmy who peaked in the window
of a deserted house. I didn't quite get it. The sixth
song was eerie.
At this point I ordered another Rob Roy and I had to
have something to eat. Normally I am pretty frugal when it
comes to buying overpriced club food, particularly when the
menu publicly announces that the portions are small but
good, but I saw a couple of platters brought in by a young
man dressed in dark. In fact, all the employees are
dressed in black, the waitresses, the owner or bouncer, the
intriguing Deana and the guy who brought in the food. Must
be a club policy to go along with the dark interior.
Anyway, the food looked really cool and it smelled really
good. So you need to enjoy life! I ordered the catfish
with butternut squash, applewood bacon and sausage. I
think it was about ten bucks, the price of a movie.
Back to the Ditty Bops, the seventh song was a new
grass honky-tonk tune with lots of time changes. They
introduced the band and I couldn't get all the names, but
it sounded like Ian Walker on the upright bass, Greg
somebody on keyboards, John Landon on fiddle, and they
introduced their merchandiser with the CDs near the door.
They said they would finish with a fast song because they
wanted to give Dan as much time as they could, "cuz they're
hot." The last song sounded like an operetta sung by the
taller one. After the final applause started to die down
their merchant yelled out, "Wow, they're great. I want a
CD." That brought a random chuckle here and there.
The whole Ditty Bop set was great. I said that to
Deana and she said they have a really cool website,
www.dittybops.com. I had seen it earlier and I just opened
it up now to try to find the names of the other musicians.
But it loads very slowly in my ancient Macintosh, so I
During the break before Dan Hick and The Hot Licks'
second set, my catfish with butternut squash, applewood
bacon and sausage arrived. The presentation was beautiful.
(You might think I am getting a kickback from The Mint, but
I'm not. It really was beautiful). In the dark it kind of
looked like a lobster. An oval piece of bread was on top
of the fish and squash. Long strands of chives stuck out
in a way that kind of looked like the antennae and legs of
a lobster. The taste was incredible. The menu had
announced small portions but powerful flavors, or something
like that, and they pulled it off. It wasn't even that
small. The bacon was in fine powder, finer than bacon
bits, which gave the squash an amazing light crunchy crust.
Some kind of great sauce was splattered all over the plate
the way fine chefs present foods these days. Anyway, I
really felt I got ten bucks worth of flavors. I don't
usually say that. Maybe it was because I was starving.
HICKS AND THE HOT LICKS, SECOND SHOW
here we go with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Set
Number Two at the Mint in Los Angeles. 9 pm Sunday night.
I counted heads. Only thirty people in the audience this
time. Even more intimate. At least a third of the crowd
were holdover friends from the first show. Dan started out
by interviewing himself. It was pretty funny as he asked
himself questions like, "What's your favorite tune, Dan?"
They opened up with "Canned Music." Very casual.
Lovely fiddle solo. Dan had changed his shirt to a black
satin one. It fit the room. It reflected rust red from
one of the stage lights. The small audience was very loud
and enthusiastic at the end. "Thank you very much, Ladies
and Gentlemen. That was an example of our music...our
style of music. We bring it to the masses...30 people at a
Next they performed "The Blues My Baby Gave To Me." A
song that starts out quiet and builds. It got a big hand.
"We're having a lot of fun here, Ladies and GentlemenÉ and
getting paid too." Someone in the audience shouted out
something that got a laugh at their table. Dan said, "We
don't want anybody in here being funny. That table seems a
little funny. We'll let it ride. We're going to do a
classic Hot Licks song recorded a while ago. I think it
was on the white album. We like to mention the albums.
Who was on it? Mick Jagger? We like to be educational."
They played "The Buzzard Was Their Friend." It was
fast and hot from both the guitars and the fiddle. The
bass solo was solid and under all the way. The song got a
nice hand from the audience.
"This is a song from our new album, "Selected
Shorts'" Dan said. The Lickettes repeated the album title
in two-part harmony. The song they sang was "That Ain't
Right." As mentioned earlier, the acoustic guitar on this
one has a definite electronic sound to it. It got a good
hand. Something in the house bothered Dan because he said,
seemingly half joking, "I see some of the employees over
there making all this fucking noise. Get the fuck out of
here." He didn't say it meanly, but he did make his point.
"We'll do a tune now called, "One More Cowboy'," and
they did. It is a slow shuffle. It was a great song, but
too bad Willy Nelson couldn'ta been there like he was on
"We're going to bring up a little ukulele playing now,
with "Pay Day Blues.' It tells the story of a guy who gets
a job at a shoeshine parlor and has a nice little lady back
in the trailer house. She leaves him. You'll see. Does
anybody here have a job?" Susan Rabin played the uke and
Dave Bell played a Hawaiian slide guitar. It is one of the
group's signature songs, and is always a crowd pleaser.
Dan introduced the band, with Roberta Donnay and Susan
Rabin on vocals. Dave Bell on guitar. Richard Chong on
fiddle and mandolin. "And the People's Friend: Mr. Paul
Smith on bass. Of course you all know me. I'm Michael
Jackson...making a big comeback. We're going to do another
from the album "Selected Shorts'," (The phrase repeated by
the Lickettes) "where no song is too long." They performed
"I'll See You In My Dreams." It was hot, hot, hot.
"Here's a tune called "I Scare Myself'," he said.
"It's a love song we dedicate to everyone in here who never
has been or ever will be in love. What the world needs now
is love sweet love. Love and marriage go together like a
horse and carriage. A sideways love song from the side, in
your face. There is a message deep, deep inside. You will
find it deep inside." As the music starts its simple but
entrancing theme, The Lickettes turned their backs to the
audience and swayed. They start playing rhythm instruments
like little finger bell cymbals and maracas. They both
donned dark sunglasses, as did Dan.
This song mostly features instrumental solos.
First off was the guitar solo. Much better tonight than last
night at Solano Beach where it had been only great.
Tonight it was stupendous.
Dan gets bored with this song because he has to sit back
and just strum out the rhythm. So to keep him amused he
does a 360-degree turn. The fiddle solo was the best I
have ever heard Richard Chong do it. The bass solo started
small but built slowly and subtly. Next was Dan's fake
solo, where Dave Bell turns his back to the audience and
plays a hot solo while Dan pantomimes playing a heavy metal
guitar, bobbing his head around. It got a big hand from
This is probably Dan's most recognizable song.
Dan complained that there is not enough guitar monitor
on stage, then said, "This is an old standard, "Honeysuckle
Rose." In this tune, Dan played a tambourine with a brush.
Dan and The Lickettes dance a synchronized soft-shoe dance
number. A rousing response by the audience at the end.
Dan said that after the show they are going to come
into the audience and have a meet and greet. "I'd like to
meet each and every one of you. And get your cell phone
numbers. Keep in touch, Ladies and Gentlemen."
Next they performed "Long Come A Viper." "The Stones
called and wanted to do this song, but we said, "No way.'
You can't keep up with it. That ended that. We have our
own money." Dave Bell played a bottleneck slide guitar.
The last song was "I Feel Like Singing." It was
great. Susan has a nice solo in this. The new singer,
Roberta Donnay, again demonstrated a wide vocal range and a
voice with a lot of depth.
Dan had announced at about 4 songs before the end that
he wasn't going to do an encore. And he didn't. Off they
walked. Thunderous applause at the end, with lots of hoots
and hollers. What a night! Dan Hicks in Los Angeles.
Long Come A Viper
Blues My Baby Gave To Me
Song For My Father
That Ain't Right
I'll See You In My Dreams
I Scare Myself
Moody Richard (About one line of it)
Encore: I Feel Like Singing
Alabama Bound (instrumental, partial song)
The Blues My Baby Gave To Me
The Buzzard Was Their Friend
That Ain't Right
One More Cowboy
I'll See You In My Dreams
I Scare Myself
Long Come A Viper
I Feel Like Singing